Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 29, 2017)

Tabu on her unique relationship with the actor who she’s romancing on screen again after 23 years, why she’s still single but no longer afraid to mingle and why the Golmaal franchise is irresistible

Are you just romancing the job or is there a special someone in your life too?
If you asking whether there is a romance brewing, then the answer is ‘no’.

But you will admit that you have metamorphosed from an Eid ka chand to a party animal?
I was reserved when I was younger and doubtful about what to do and where to go. Farah Khan’s house is the only place where I was comfortable and I’m still happy when I’m around her. Today, I’m all grown up and go where I think I should. Professional appearances are tiresome, but for friends I will walk the extra mile. House-parties are great and the nice thing is that whether I dropped by or not, friends like Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar never stopped inviting me to their homes. When you’ve been in films for over two decades, the film industry is your home.

Golmaal Again will mark your return to slapstick comedies after more than a decade. What was the experience like?
I’ve wanted to do a light-hearted film for a long time, more so because my mother was fed up of me doing rona-dhona roles. A lot of people too have been saying that they wanted to see me in a comedy like Biwi No 1 and Hera Pheri. I remember joking with Rohit Shetty at parties, saying, “I want to be part of the Golmaal franchise because I want to just stand there and laugh.” To be honest, even in a film like Golmaal Again, I’m the more serious and credible character, but as part of the team, I get the chance to stand there and laugh at the boys (Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas Talpade and Kunal Kemmu) who are doing what they do best.

I’m working with Rohit for the first time and I’m really happy. There is an unexplained familiarity when I’m on the sets with him. He’s completely focused on the action but at the same time, he makes his actors comfortable.

Ajay and you share a bond that goes beyond work, right?
Yes, Ajay and I have known each other for 25 years. He was my cousin Sameer Arya’s neighbour and close buddy, a part of my growing up years and that has laid the foundation of our relationship. When I was young, Sameer and Ajay would spy on me, follow me around and threaten to beat up any boys who are caught talking to me. They were the big bullies and if I am single today, it is because of Ajay. I hope he repents and regrets what he did.

We’ve heard that he’s now taken the onus of getting you hitched?
(Laughs) I told him the other day to please find me a boy to marry. But jokes aside, our relationship has grown because we have worked so much with each other. From among the male actors, if there is anyone I can count on, it’s Ajay. He is a like a child and yet so protective. The atmosphere on set when he’s around is stress-free. We share a unique relationship and an unconditional affection.

What do you see when you look back on your two-and-a-half-decade career?
I really want to be able to look at my career graph from the outside, objectively, but I find it hard to do that. I was fortunate to find innumerable scripts with well-layered parts for me, films like Maachis, Hu Tu Tu, Maqbool, Life of Pi, The Namesake, Chandni Bar, Astitva, Haider, Drishyam, to name a few. I’m happy the filmmakers who made them thought of me. I didn’t consciously create this graph, I still don’t commit easily to a film but once I do, I give it my all. I’m happy I’m still doing relevant stuff.

What next?
There is a Luv Ranjan film in which I’m paired with Ajay Devgn. We did Vijaypath in ’94. It’s nice to be able to romance the same hero on screen even after 23 years.

What draws you to a film today?
For me, the most important aspect is how my character is written and if it allows me to engage with myself when I am in front of the camera. The length of the role is unimportant. When I did Hu Tu Tu (1999) in which I was ready to bomb my own mother or for that matter Maqbool (2003) in which I had a hand in a murder, there were few characters so layered and dark being written for women. I’m grateful to Gulzar saab and Vishal Bhardwaj for giving me these films at a point when I was bored being Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. I realised then, that I had to take a chance with my roles and I’m glad I did.