Movies

I am not a megalomaniac like most actors, says Urmila Matondkar

Future prospects: ‘Bewafa Beauty’ is Urmila Matondkar’s way of testing the waters for a possible comeback

Future prospects: ‘Bewafa Beauty’ is Urmila Matondkar’s way of testing the waters for a possible comeback  

Urmila Matondkar returns to the silver screen with a new sizzling item number for Blackmail

A costume change in the middle of a song is a Bollywood trope only a ’90s star is over-familiar with. The style might have faded out but the divas continue to keep the tradition alive. When Urmila Matondkar stomps in for a session of interviews being conducted in a suburban five-star hotel, she’s wearing a beige trench coat dress that could give Priyanka Chopra’s now-infamous 2017 Met Gala red-carpet appearance a complicit wink. The trench coat is Matondkar’s last look for the day. She has previously taken short breaks to appear in an olive-green ruffle skirt paired with an off-shoulder white shirt and a salmon-pink jumpsuit—outfits that please the shutterbugs and remind us of her sartorial choices, a key facet of the star’s allure in the ’90s.

Matondkar is meeting the press to promote her guest-appearance dance number, ‘Bewafa Beauty’ in the forthcoming film Blackmail. The song marks her return to the screen after a decade. Last seen in EMI (2008), Matondkar stepped back from Hindi films, making a special allowance for a Marathi film Ajoba (2014). She married actor-model Mohsin Akhtar Mir in 2016 and decided to return if lured by challenging roles.

Back in the limelight

The song is Matondkar’s way of testing the waters for a possible comeback. “You know when I heard the song, I realised it was something new because I do happen to know a lot of Hindi songs. The thought, the madness, the craziness and the tune, all of it I loved. It required a lot of adakari (performance), nakhra (affectation), as the director [Abhinay Deo] mentioned, which appealed to me,” she says.

The black comedy drama involves Dev (Irrfan Khan), who plays a cuckold extorting money from his wife Reena’s (Kirti Kulhari) paramour played by Arunoday Singh. Matondkar says her appearance in the song is a red herring and not just an embellishment. “I have been known to do a lot of glamorous, glossy songs in A-lister set-ups. This was unlike that. Blackmail is a gritty film, so the song is also very different from what I have done before,” she says.

Describing how the song makes a difference to the drama, Matondkar adds, “The song is the torchbearer of the film. The lyrics are pretty much giving away the story of the film and it also comes at a point in the narrative when something crucial is taking place in a bar where the film’s key characters are present,” she says. “Both the lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya and the music composer Amit Trivedi have hit bull’s eye with a one-of-a-kind tune,” she eulogises.

Forever glam

‘Bewafa Beauty’ is a departure from Matondkar’s scorcher hits from the ’90s. It depicts her as a bar dancer who performs with less vigour than what she would have probably done back in the day when her breakthrough role as Mili in Rangeela (1995) turned her into an overnight star. The trailblazing costumes by Manish Malhotra and her electric dance moves on A R Rahman’s memorable melodies spawned several films such as Daud (1997), Mast (1999), and Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2001), in which Matondkar is remembered for little else apart from her pelvic thrusts.

Shooting for the track has been a pleasurable experience for her. Calling herself a dance enthusiast, Matondkar says she rarely missed a step. “All of them have been effortless though there has been a lot of hard work that went into the making of them. Dancing is never excruciating as preparing for it is, for instance the song ‘Chamma Chamma’ had heavy outfits and even more heavy jewellery. ‘Kambakht Ishq’ was shot in extreme heat during the day and a rain sequence in the night, so we were literally drenched throughout the night,” Matondkar says of her memorable chartbusters.

The actor’s wedding in 2016 was a quiet affair and she keeps a low profile. She has virtually no presence on social media apart from an Instagram profile, which serves as a mirror for her pouty selfies. Matondkar has been able to separate her career and home in separate boxes. Speaking of her conjugal life Matondkar says it is not for public display. “I am an introvert and I keep that separate from [my] high profile career,” she says. Marriage has allowed the star to devote her time to activities other than films. “We travel a lot and it fulfils us. We do things like scuba diving together and those little joys keep us happy,” she says, adding that marriage has made her turn away from a number of hit item numbers.

Child star days

Matondkar began her career in the Hindi film industry as a child-artiste in Karm (1977), Zaakol (1980), and Kalyug (1980). Her performance in Masoom (1983) earned her praise and her career took an upswing not very different from the trajectory of Sridevi, an actor she idolises and worked with in Judaai (1997). Matondkar feels at home at a film set. “I have never felt that I am facing the camera or doing something out of the ordinary because I have been acting ever since I can remember,” states Matondkar.

While Sridevi was four-years-old when she faced the camera, Matondkar was three when she acted in Karm. “I was on stage from an early age,” she recalls. “It always felt to me like something I was born to do. I remember Govind Nihalani was the cinematographer for the Marathi film Zaakol and he was completely aghast that I was so effortless in my very first scene,” she grins.

When asked about the recent trend of remixes, namely ‘Ek Do Teen’ (Tezaab), which has been performed by Jacqueline Fernandez in Baaghi 2, it’s a possibility that a number of Matondkar’s hit songs could get the same treatment. She says the thought hasn’t crossed her mind. “The good part of it is that I am not a megalomaniac like most actors are. There is life beyond movies also and right now I am busy exploring that,” she emphasises.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 7:49:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/i-am-not-a-megalomaniac-like-most-actors/article23436286.ece

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