FRIDAY REVIEW

Rising like a phoenix

RANA SIDDIQUI

AMISHA PATEL

A HISTORIC LOVE TALE THIS Amisha patel rommances Toby Stephens in "Mangal Pandey - The Rising". PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT.

A HISTORIC LOVE TALE THIS Amisha patel rommances Toby Stephens in "Mangal Pandey - The Rising". PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT.  

Those who have seen Amisha Patel in Anil Sharma's "Gadar - Ek Prem Katha" would vouch for her classical beauty. Vulnerable and yet so elegant. Didn't she look so much a part of that period? Come this Friday, time would again be for lady Patel to don a period garb. In Aamir Khan's much-touted film "Mangal Pandey - The Rising". With the word out that Amisha however, plays a `cameo' in this pre-partition saga, the actress gets rather straightforward here, despite being a small role, it nevertheless isone of the most important ones. Something that has given her "tremendous satisfaction as an artiste."

Here, Amisha plays a Bengali widow, Jwala who is also the love interest of a British Commanding Officer, William Gordon played by British actor Toby Stephens. In the film, the protagonist Mangal Pandey, played by Aamir Khan, saves the life of his CO (Toby) during the Afghan War and thus they end up as good friends. Toby too saves Amisha from the funeral pyre of her husband, and falls in love with her.

Describes Amisha, "It is an amazing love story in which for the first time you will see a mainstream Bollywood heroine romancing a British actor on screen. My character is gentle without being vulnerable. She is dignified and has tremendous self-respect. I am Toby Stephen's conscience same as Rani Mukerji is Aamir Khan's conscience in the film. People would love the incorporation of a parallel love story between two of us in the film because it's the first of its kind in the history of Hindi films." Most importantly, she says, "Jwala represents the rising of a love affair between the two countries who are apparently enemies to each other. Our romance in the film is symbolic of same sentiments between two different countries." The debate whether a British officer had indeed fallen in love with Jwala is subject to verification in the pages of history. But Amisha has her own case to put forth. "It is very much a part of the history but I don't know if it is a part of recorded history. While doing the film, I read many books on 1857 including William Dalrymple's `The White Moghuls'. In this book, I did find a mention of the romance between an Englishman and a widow. But I don't know if other books do that."

Amisha says she found herself so "related to history and its characters" that she didn't mind playing a cameo. "It's a pleasure to be a part of a historical film. The length of the roles in such films doesn't matter. My role is very powerful. It has great impact on the story of the film. And since it's a man's film, women in any case couldn't have been at the centre stage. Sometimes even 20 scenes in film don't leave that impact that two scenes do. It depends upon what your role is," defends Amisha.

And here, for the first time, Amisha appears sans make-up in any film. Initially, the actress relates, she was very "under confident and apprehensive" about her looks, but gained confidence gradually. "My look was so well taken that it has created a fashion of sort now. I got great compliments from people who saw me (in promos and pictures)," is how she reacts now. And Aamir Khan reportedly told her that her flawless complexion would look stunning on screen and thus tried to motivate her to appear without make up. "That's true. People say that I have got a classical look and I gel so well in period films. After tremendous response on this count, I really feel like working only in period films. I have got a versatile face that goes well with modern dresses also. And I am so thankful to God for that," chuckles the lady who has earned countless fans even in Pakistan after her role-playing as Sakina in "Gadar... "

Talking more about "Mangal Pandey... ", she says, there were no creative differences between Aamir Khan and Toby Stephens (as reported in a section of media) on the film's script on the grounds that Indians call 1857 the First War of Independence and the Britishers call it Mutiny. "Toby was completely in agreement with the script. He knows that there were several British who agreed with Indian concerns. In fact, he has great love for our culture, food, and our love and affection. He thoroughly enjoyed working with us," she adds.

And on the sets too, there were no major hassles worthy of counting. "It may also be because most of the technicians and production unit were foreigners (British). He didn't have to face unorganised working atmosphere here. It was also because Aamir had everything ready beforehand, from a bound script to sets. We had a very nice experience working with him, " claims Amisha.

"Mangal Pandey... " over, Amisha, has some "good deal" of other films to work on. Such as "Humko Tumse Pyar Hai" opposite Sanjay Dutt, "Mere Jeevan Saathi" which is long pending, and an untitled film with Sunny Deol.

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