Tabu’s delicious performance as Simi, the seductive, amoral wife of a yesteryear’s movie actor in Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun (2018), was one of the greatest pleasures in an especially strong year at the movies. But Sriram, whose top choice for the role was always Tabu, was not sure the Haider star would agree to playing a character so irredeemable. Having never worked with her before, the filmmaker hoped she would say ‘yes’.
For months before he’d offered her the role, Sriram reportedly had a whiteboard in his office with the word ‘NUTS’ scrawled across it, as both a reminder that he was crazy to think a top leading lady like Tabu would take the job and also as a ready reckoner for actresses he was planning to approach. ‘NUTS’ was an acronym for the four actresses that were on Sriram’s shortlist: Nimrat Kaur, Urmila Matondkar, Tabu and Sushmita Sen.
Lucky for him (and us) that his first choice ended up slipping into the role like the snake she was meant to play.
Siddhant Chaturvedi, who broke out with a terrific performance as rap mentor MC Sher in Gully Boy (2019) earlier this year, has added another feather to his cap in having landed the dubbing gig for Chris Hemsworth’s character Agent H in the Hindi version of Men in Black: International (2019). The 26-year-old actor told me he will bring a bit of rap and Sher to his work for the film. In Bali earlier this week where he was introduced to the God of Thunder, he rapped for a video the pair recorded together, culminating with Chris borrowing Siddhant’s star-making line ‘Bohot hard!’
Chaturvedi is aware the industry has its eyes trained on him, keen to see what he does next. Turns out there might be an action film with Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Productions, and at least one more “big movie” that will be announced shortly. But he reveals he’s been saying ‘no’ more frequently than ‘yes’ and understands some filmmakers may not take kindly to being turned down by a newcomer. Some expect him to say ‘yes’ without so much as giving him a script to read. “But I have to make the right choices. I only get a limited number of chances,” he says. He also added he isn’t swept off his feet when he’s offered films originally written for bigger stars. “That can’t be the reason to take a role. It has to be right for me.”
Work Is Waste
A popular 80s leading lady who largely retired from the screen after motherhood delivered a solid, knockout performance recently in a hit thriller. The actress walked away with some of the best reviews for a film that didn’t even feature her in its publicity. Just don’t think of it as her comeback—the actress detests the idea of spending long days on the set.
Insiders reveal it was her daughter who ‘practically badgered’ her to take the role when the director chased her to do it. Her daughter, herself an actress, reportedly told her she was a terrific performer and what was the point of that talent if she wasn’t going to put it on the screen every now and then.
A source from the unit of the film reveals the 80s leading lady did not like the idea of going away to Europe to shoot the film. She was especially not thrilled about having to leave her (grown-up) children behind while she was away working. When she learnt that her cook had decided to play hooky for a few days, she contemplated returning to Mumbai so she could make sure her kids were taken care of, but was eventually dissuaded by her daughter who promised to figure out an alternative plan and make sure her brother was ‘sorted’ too.
The reluctant actress has told friends she isn’t driven to work anymore because she worked especially hard during her youth. She’s frequently joked she only takes roles when she’s broke, and adds that she wishes she’d win a lottery so she’d never have to act again.