Raveena Tandon has never been one to soft-pedal her answers or mince words.
You haven't seen her on screen for a while now. But, post marriage, films are not all she has on her mind. She might, she says, consider joining politics. She is also the president of the Children's Film Society of India. She has a marriage, to distributor Anil Thadani, to concentrate on. She has her two adopted daughters to take care of. She is no hurry to get anywhere, she says in this interview:
You had an early break in films, right?
I never thought I would become an actress. I was this roly-poly kid at school. I was an intern at Genesis PR, helping [ad-man] Prahlad Kakkar, when friends and people around me started complimenting my looks.
But [photographer-director] Shantanu Sheorey gave me the first break. He called and said he wanted to shoot with me. I told him you haven't even seen me, and said I would ask my parents. That was the time when models were becoming actors.
My parents said, 'Is that [acting] going to be your next move?'
I said, 'I haven't thought about it.' But I refused film offers. Prahlad kept saying millions of people are waiting for this chance and you keep refusing it. So I thought there is nothing to lose. Then Patthar Ke Phool happened.
Why did you drop out of college?
I completed my second year of BA. I appeared for exams regularly. Since I had started working by then and was a star, college authorities used to have tough time handling the crowd. Mithibai College [where Raveena studied] was kind enough to let me take the exams. Then, I decided I would do the final year through correspondence, but that never happened. I was totally into work by then.
How did you feel when you did your first 'dance'?
I was not nervous at all. I have been dancing since my childhood, especially at birthday parties, with my brother. I was nervous when I gave my first shot, though.
You acted with Amitabh Bachchan in Aks. How was it?
I was not nervous. I was completely in awe of him. I had met him before, as he and my dad [director Ravi Tandon] were friends. When he used to see me on sets, he would say, 'I have seen this girl when she was a kid.'
Before Aks I had done Bade Miya Chote Miyan, where I played his sister. That was easy. Strangely, during Aks, I didn't speak to him at all. The confrontational scenes were difficult. So I thought I shouldn't get friendly, because I would not be able to deliver the dialogues well.
Were you offered Rani Mukerji's role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Karisma's role in Dil To Pagal Hai?
Dil To Pagal Hai was offered to me when I was quitting. As you know, I had retired for two years. I took a sabbatical. I was always a reluctant actor and was never too ambitious. I refused quite a few big films; I refused films like Gupt as well.
When I decided to restart Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was offered to me. I didn't want to restart my carrier playing the second lead. I didn't mind doing a male-centric film with a small role and didn't want an actor junior to me playing the lead role. Karan is a good friend of mine and he understood me completely.
You won the National Award for Daman where you played a mother, and now you are president of the Children's Film Society of India. What is it with you and children?
As it is said, child is the father of man. They are a big responsibility. You bring a child into this world. A child doesn't ask you to do so, it's not his fault. I love children anyway, so I don't mind doing it.
How has marriage changed you?
I feel more secure. He [distributor Anil Thadani] is my companion. There are friends and there is family, but he is my companion for life and he is totally mine. I feel complete.
Since you are an actor, have you had to make changes in your personal life?
Not really. Since he also comes from a similar background, he understands.
A personal question: do you intend to start a family?
Not right now. I have too many commitments. I want to do complete justice to all of them. CFSI is also there. I love children and know about cinema so I can put both together. I also have quite a few films signed up. I am cutting down on the number of films I will do. I plan to do just about one or two films a year. Meaningful films. When I have enough time and feel I am responsible enough, I will start a family.
Do you intend to join politics?
Only when I have sufficient knowledge. One needs experience. Politics is not just about fame or popularity. One should feel like doing something for society, and should be ready to devote time. I may join, as I said, only when I have sufficient knowledge. Even if I don't, I will continue to do social work.
Actor, producer, television -- will you get into scripting and direction as well?
I live each day as it comes. I don't think too much about the future. CFSI, social work family is very important. And that is my first priority. I will fulfill those first.
What are your future projects?
Dobara, Ek Se Badkar Ek, etc.
Will you do a film on any social issue, and what would it be about?
I would do a film with a good director and cameraman. A cameraman is very important. At times, they are better than a director. I would do a film with a strong role, which will totally help me empower my role as a woman, today's woman.
One director you haven't worked with, but want to?
I have worked with all the top directors, except my dad [Ravi Tandon]. He made amazing films like Zindagi, which is like today's Baghban. He also did Khuddar, Khel Khel Mein, and he was the first to bring in disco songs. But unfortunately he retired when I was joining, so I didn't get a chance to work with him.
Every actor wants to leave an impression, how do you want people to remember you?
I want this to be inscribed on my tombstone: She came, she saw, she lived, and let live.
What is your philosophy in life?
Live and let live.
Are you an angel or a devil?
A bit of both, depends on my mood.
Do you eat to live or live to eat?
I am not a foodie, I eat to live.
Which is your most special film?
There quite a few films which are special to me. They are like landmarks in my life: Patthar He Phool, my first film; Dilwale, which was a super duper hit, etc.
Which are your memorable films?
Shool, Aks and Satta.
Who is your favourite co-star?
I would say my friends Govinda and Jackie Shroff.
Who was your first crush?
A guy from my building.
Most frequently used words?
'Oh my God', 'Hey Bhagwan!'
If you were to describe yourself in a few words?
I am like a dog, very faithful and very loyal
Bringing up my two [adopted] daughters, and my close-knit family.
What is your biggest fear?
Losing the people I love.
If not an actor, what would you be?
I don't know, I have no clue. I didn't know I would be an actor, it started as a hobby.
Who has been your greatest influence?
My father. Now, post marriage, my mother.
What is the best compliment that you have received?
When I was doing my internship at Genesis, I was traveling by train one day. I had a load of files in my hands, and I bumped into a college-going guy. All those papers fell out. I began to pick them up. I said, "I am sorry." But he said, "I am not." That is the sweetest compliment I have ever got.
What makes you laugh?
When I am depressed, I watch these three films: Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Padosan. They really make me laugh.
What makes you sad?
Children on the road, begging in tattered clothes. I think kids are the responsibility of the adults, and I believe we should bring them into this world only when we can take care of them and provide them with good education and health.
Are you romantic?
Yes, very much.
What according to you is romance?
Small things. It is a sweet and a beautiful feeling. It could be any small gesture for the man you love.
What is that one quality of yours that you are proud of?
I can forgive people.
Is there something you have done that you want to change?
Loads. I have done emotionally stupid things.
Published with the courtesy of Radio City 91 FM