Rani is one of the most difficult and challenging roles of my life. Everything had to be worked from bid to chadhaal. Bihari accent I had spoken in Gangs of Wasseypur, so there was not much problem in it. Accent I also learn very quickly, but the style of wearing the sari of Rani, Bindi, Sindoor, Bichhiya, Mangalsutra, living in these signs of Suhagan all the time, it was all very different. It was challenging to play the character 180 degrees apart from Huma, so it was challenging, but also a lot of fun. This is a very satisfying character. It did not feel like anything was left.
You have recently stepped into Hollywood from the film ‘Army of the Dead’. How different or special was the experience of working there?
Enjoyed it. Got to learn a lot by working in a different industry. I made my Bollywood debut with a lot of characters from the film Gangs of Wasseypur, which was a very unconventional debut. My Hollywood debut was the same. I would like to continue doing films there and represent my country. It feels good when you go to another country and work there as an Indian artist. Their questions are, about your work, your country, so I also got good exposure and those people also got to know a lot about India.
What questions do they have, about India?
About our films, our way of life, our food. Everyone was to come to India there. Everyone had to work in Hindi films. One day everyone said that we have to eat Indian food. We were shooting in Mexico. There was no Indian restaurant, but we found an Indian store, so we bought a pressure cooker, bought chilli masala, garam masala and made dal, chicken, casserole for everyone. They were very happy, so I feel good when people praise our food, movies. Once I was going in a cab with my friend Nora, who plays Lily in the film, the driver was Indian. They were surprised to see me. He took out his phone and started playing the song of my film, so Nora was stunned whether he knew you. I said that yes, we Indian actors are lucky, that we have access to every country.
You are also doing the noble work of connecting with ‘Save the Children’ in Corona epidemic to build a 100-bed hospital. How did this engagement happen? What is the goal and where have you reached it?
I have been associated with ‘Save the Children’ for quite some time. They work very well for child rights. When the issue of Covid started, I was very sad. After seeing everyone on TV, my heart was very upset, so I thought I should talk to them. We thought that we start with a 100-bed hospital on a small scale. This problem is all over the country. Where we go, what to do, I myself am trying to understand what can do better. Now we thought let’s start with 100 beds. We have seen the place in Tilaknagar Delhi. We have got support from many partners, donors, organizations, government people. This is completely the people’s own effort. I might have started, but many people are connected to it and more people should join it, so that we can help the health workers.
You are playing the role of CM in Maharani. What is your opinion on current politics? If you really become CM, then what would you like to do first?
I am an actor. I do not understand politics. I remain silent on this, because I am really unintelligent in this matter. I only talk about humans. I talk about humanity. That too when I am asked, otherwise I keep my perspective to myself. If someday I really become CM, I would think of it as a nightmare and go back to sleep (laughs).
You have also written the story of a female superhero, on whom Hollywood wants to make a film. How did this idea come about? And what is the reason for making it in Hollywood instead of Bollywood?
At first I am very glad that you know about it. Actually, as an actor, we always resort to the words of others and reflect their thinking. When the world was closed in lockdown, I had a story. I wrote that. Inshallah, when the time comes, he will also release the film, he will also publish it. This is the story of a brown superhero girl. I will not say much about it. The reason for pitching in the US is that I feel like the world is going on now, in that we should talk about love, peace, peace. Talking about what are the similarities between different cultures, the world will become a good place. Respect for this diversity at the international level is very important. Then, when you see that an Indian character is in an international film, it is being shown well, then you also feel proud.