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With fresh looks and hopes anew

Her "Om Jai Jagdish" may have come a cropper. But unfazed Urmila Matondkar awaits her next release, "Deewaangee". Here in conversation with SUBHASH K. JHA, she confirms that she is a heady mix of beauty and brains.

Confident about her talent... Urmila with the Deols.

IT'S BEEN a while since we saw Urmila burn up the screen with her sensuous appeal. Her last release "Om Jai Jagdish" didn't count, though she did. Looking stunning in the promos of her new flick ``Deewaangee" awaiting release, Urmila's new-look cropped-hair avatar is the talk of tinsel town. She speaks about the new deewangee in her life.

The promos of "Deewaangee" promise a great deal of excitement...

I'm very excited about ``Deewaangee." Ajay Devgan who saw the film recently sounded very excited about it. He isn't the kind to say good things for no reason. When the director Anees Bazmi came to me with the script I knew I had to do the film. I feel the screenplay and performances are the film's strong points. Aneesji is completely in control of his script. ``Deewaangee" has turned out to be a `complete entertainer.' I've done a thriller — "Kaun" — before. But that wasn't really a mainstream film.

What do you play in ``Deewaangee"?

Oh I play a pop star. Never done that before, though I've been doing quite a lot of floor dancing in my films (laughs). Dancing is just one aspect of my role. The film revolves round the three characters played by Ajay, Akshaye and me. I think both the heroes have done a wonderful job. I've always made a conscious effort to select challenging roles. More now than ever before an artiste needs to be aware of much more than her own role in a film. This is why "Om Jai Jagdish" and "Deewaangee" interested me.

Anees' films as director haven't been too successful and neither has your pairing with Ajay been successful ...

That may be so. But Aneesji's film with Ajay "Pyar To Hona Hi Tha" was a success. If not mine then I hope their luck rubs off on "Deewaangee".

Honestly I don't think any individual or team can deliver a hit. Success just happens. Aneesji once told me that the audience can tell within five minutes whether it likes a film or not. Likewise an artiste can tell whether a film is worth doing within five minutes of narration. That happened to me with "Deewaangee."

Were you disappointed with the way "Om Jai Jagdish" shaped up?

Disappointment would be too strong a word. But yes, I did think the film would be something different from what it was. I'm sure all the six of us saw different versions of the story in our imagination. I was convinced about the strength of the role in spite of it being a multi-starrer. From the reviews that I saw, I was noticed in "Om Jai Jagdish". I think the audience understood the character's viewpoint. To that extent I did succeed.

Everyone from Tabu to Antara Mali seems to be embracing your chic look. Is that flattering?

I think it would be slightly pompous of me to take credit for that. But now that you've brought this to my attention I must admit it feels great. I don't understand why journalists should question actresses for being conscious about their looks. To be a complete actress one has to be conscious of every aspect of one's personality. Somehow journalists always bring up my looks-consciousness to put me down. They don't realise that some heroines are indifferent. They make you wonder why they haven't put in a little more effort in what they do. I don't think being careless is cool.

Urmila Matondkar... chic and stunning.

Are things going well for you?

Even gossip journalists who fill up little spaces with dirty lies about me can't deny that filmmakers are approaching me with multi-faceted roles. And I'm going ahead with my work to the best of my abilities. I know they come to me only because casting me is a market-friendly manoeuvre. I think I'm one of the few actresses of my generation who isn't just talking but also doing things.

Are you trying to balance a "Pinjar" with a "Deewaangee"?

Yes, in case you haven't noticed I've always tried to make life interesting for myself by doing different roles that connect mainstream cinema with its offbeat counterpart. I guess I've been daring and lucky with my roles. I wouldn't like to say that I'm turning into a serious actress. I've never made tall claims. I'm an actress, period. I want to do every kind of role with reasonable amount of panache. I want to be a fair combination of style and substance.

Did it hurt when your pain-lashed performance in "Pyar Tune Kya Kiya" went unnoticed?

But the funniest thing is, even those critics who weren't generous in their praise in print called me later to tell me how brilliant I was. Even those who didn't give me any awards have called and sounded apologetic. An even funnier thing was the category in which I was nominated (best villain). That took the cake. So much for the credibility of popular awards. I'm not one of those actresses who runs down awards when she doesn't get them and praises them when she does. Right from my "Rangeela" days I've maintained that good work often goes beyond awards. There was not a person that I know who didn't call me to praise my performance in "Pyar Tune Kya Kiya". Everyone reacted to the performance even though I didn't play a sweet, bubbly, typical heroine.

A lot of your fans feel you haven't got your due recognition as an actress ...

I've always felt I've done my job very well. But the media has been constantly confused about me. After "Rangeela", "Judaai" was a complete bouncer for them. When I went from dresses to saris everyone wondered what I was up to. But I just did what I felt like. Why do journalists realise that I've done a variety of roles only when they sit down to interview me? I've never made claims of being an ``actress." It always suited the media to slot me as a sex symbol. It became a bit embarrassing for them to move away from that image even when I moved away. They still don't know where my career stands vis--vis their perceptions. I'd like to leave them with their confusions hoping some day they'd come out of it. I'm very happy with my career. I haven't been good with my PR. I'm aware of this shortcoming.

Thank you for an intelligent interview.

Intelligent ... I don't know. Honest, yes.

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