After almost two decades, Hema Malini turns producer with Tell Me Oh Khuda starring daughter, Esha Deol. Bollywood's original ‘Dreamgirl' talks about juggling the roles of mother and producer.

Your production Tell Me Oh Khuda is considered your daughter Esha's re-launch film.

Re-launch? Esha has done about 25 films, but some of them did not click. It's not her fault. The film industry is a very unpredictable business.

As for this film, Esha fit the role. Now, when I have a talented actor for a daughter, why will I not cast her?

How do you juggle your roles as a a star mother and producer?

When Esha is late, the producer in me comes to the fore, and when she overworks, the mother in me takes over.

What are the challenges involved in film production today?

Competing with big producers is a huge challenge — getting finance, the right script, and completing a film is a big task. You have to be alert as even an extra day of shooting can cost so much.

Have you been spending lavishly because of your daughter Esha stars ring in the film?

No. I believe in shooting within a budget. The film has a rich look, but I know when to tighten my fist. For instance, when shooting in Turkey, director Mayur Puri was keen on a helicopter shot. It would look good, but would also cost a lot of money; I took a week to approve it.

The theme about a girl looking for her father sounds a lot like your earlier production, Dil Aashna Hai.

This is not a serious and sad film like Dil Aashna Hai. Esha's character has loving parents but when she realises that she is an adopted child, she is curious to know her real parents. So she goes on a journey to find them. This film has all the vital ingredients necessary for a good film, and I believe it has universal appeal.

You launched Shah Rukh Khan in Dil Aashna Hai and he went on to become a huge star. What are your hopes for ing of Arjan Bajwa, who is the male lead in the this film?

Arjan is a very sweet boy and has a terrific personality. He is sincere and enthusiastic.

You acted in Vinod Khanna's home production Himalya Putra which was Akshaye Khanna's launch pad. and Now Vinod Khanna is part of your home production. Is he returning the favour?

(Laughs). We are very good friends and have always been there for each other. Our generation values friendship a lot.

Will you be acting in the film too?

Let's see. There are three couples in the film. One is Rishi and a Turkish actress; then there is Vinod Khanna who is a widower. The third pair is yet to be decided. So I might figure.

Are you looking for more acting projects?

Yes, but I want to do central characters. I don't want to do roles where I have to say ‘beta kheer kha lo' anymore. We are planning a film with Deepa Sahi, which will star Esha, Nana Patekar and me.

We have to create roles for actors in my age group. If I am successful in this venture, I would like to make such films. For instance, take Meryl Streep, who, at her age, has done some wonderful films.

At 61, you are so beautiful, you could still give today's leading actors a complex. to some of the leading actresses today. How do you maintain yourself?

I feel embarrassed when I am told that I am beautiful. You have to eat properly, exercise, and be spiritual. That's all. We have to make an effort. If God has given us beauty it's our duty to maintain it.

Bollywood News Service