of ace-photographer Jagdish Maali, Antara is the new
sensation of tinsel world with her natural and vivacious
performance and the ability to fit into any role given
to her. Antara Mali made her debut in a small budget
film called Doondte Reh Jaonge, which went unnoticed.
Her second film, Dum Dum Diga Diga was shelved halfway
through. Her next break came with a Telugu film, Prem
Katha that did average business but she was spotted
by Ram Gopal Verma who is the 'miracle man of Bollywood'
and from there her career went steaming ahead. She got
a small role in Mast but she became a star overnight
after her performance in Company. She is now cast in
Ram Gopal Verma's 'Road', which is to be released on
27th Sept, 2002. Antara talked with Seasonsindia correspondent
Shobhana Arora about her career, her experience with
Ram Gopal Verma and her future plans.
Excerpts from the interview.
Why did you want to join
the film industry? Is
it because of the glamour associated with it or was
it that you were always interested in acting?
Well, to be frank yes glamour is definitely one thing
that has attracted me but it isn't the most important
thing. You see acting is in my blood. When I was in
school at that time itself I had made up my mind to
be an actress but I kept it to myself and didn't disclose
it to anyone. When I finally did, dad did all he could
to dissuade me. I thought he would be supportive of
my decision, but he was totally against it. It took
me months to convince him and finally I got him to shoot
Why do you think he agreed
and let you pursue your dreams?
Well at the shoot he must have seen my potentials and
realised that I can do it. I was very comfortable in
front of the camera and dad could see that. He has over
the years photographed so many models and stars that
he knew that the camera wasn't lying.
And what was his reaction when he saw you on the big
I will never forget the day. He completely put me off
and was my biggest critic. The entire length of time
that I was with him watching the film he kept on a running
commentary. According to him everything about me was
wrong. My body language, costumes, make-up, dialogue
delivery and performance. I was so offended that I just
got up and came home.
After 'Mast' you completely
disappeared and went into hiding for about a year.
Yes, actually I was not sure about the way my career
was heading and I just wanted to re-think. I had actually
given up on my career coz the only offers that came
my way were second leads, but then a miracle happened.
Out of the blue Ramuji offered me a South film followed
by Company. I was delighted because it's a pleasure
working with him.
Did you ever think that Ramuji would offer you the lead
role in 'Company'?
To be frank, NO. I hadn't even dreamt about such a break
and as I said I had completely given up but still something
in me kept telling me to be patient. There were endless
offers from big banners for supporting roles, from television
and also from stage. But I wanted to be the lead heroine.
Today cinema has changed and it's a revolutionary stage
where looks don't really matter much….what matters is
talent. An actor like Manoj Bajpai got to do Satya,
Shool and later Zubeida. Today an actress like Urmila
Matondkar gets to act in films as diverse as Rangeela,
Daud and Kaun. So why can't the rules break for me too?
And fortunately it did.
Tell me what's the best thing
about working with Ram Gopal Verma?
Well Ramuji is very supportive and understanding. He
is open to criticism and suggestions. I haven't done
all that many films hence I can't compare him with other
directors. He gives a lot of space to his actors. In
fact, he's almost like a counsellor. It's all very reassuring
and the actor feels confident when finally facing the
Many stories are being cooked up regarding your relationship
with Ram Gopal Verma. It is said that you are the next-Ramu-girl.
What do you have to say? Nonsense. People
say many things, but all the things can't be true and
can't be believed. Ramuji is a producer and I am an
actress. I love working with him and its really an honour
to work with a director of his calibre. He picked Urmila
and brought out all the amazing qualities and acting
skills in her. If now he has picked me and I know that
I will grow and I am talented then what's wrong. I don't
care what people say. I am only interested in my work.
Can you tell us something about
your character in 'Road'?
Well my character is very interesting. Apparently, I
romance both Manoj Bajpai and Vivek in the film while
on a journey by road. It's a very high paced thriller
and I am sure the audience will love it.
What do you say about the sexy
and hot numbers of you with Vivek in the film? Where
you comfortable shooting those scenes?
Well I have worked with Vivek before so I am very comfortable
with him. And to be frank while doing those numbers
I didn't actually shoot with him. I just had to do my
part and look as sexy as was needed for the particular
song. So there was no question of feeling awkward. Its
good the song turned out to be good.
So what is your future plans?
Well I am getting many offers but I can't disclose anything
at this stage. One thing is for sure I will only do
versatile roles and will not be stereotyped.