`I want to build a theatre for you'

THEATRICALLY YOURS The mother-daughter duo shares a joke PHOTO: K. GAJENDRAN  

One is a veteran of theatre; the other is making her presence felt on stage. One is a writer/director, the other is a committed actress and they happen to be mother and daughter. Nadira Babbar and Juhee, who were in town to present two plays - Begum Jaan and Ji, Jaisi Aapki Marzi for the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation were game for a Take Two. "I am game, but I do not know whether mum will want to talk to me," said the effervescent Juhee who presented a whole new meaning to coordinates - from the Dior shades perched on her head to glittering bling blings around her wrist to the ubiquitous mobile phone.

Though she did not meet with much success in Bollywood - her debut feature opposite songster Sonu Nigam Kaash Aap Hamare Hote did not exactly set the box office ablaze; she has done very well for herself in Punjabi cinema. Nadira does not need any introduction with cognoscenti and her untiring work with her theatre group Ekjut has enthralled theatre lovers in Mumbai and around the world. Mini Anthikad-Chhibber takes a behind-the-scenes look at the ma-beti duo.

Juhee: Is there anything about me that you would like to change?

Nadira: Nothing really. You are very caring - a special daughter, a special friend, a special sister. But yes, I wish you would curb your temper.

Juhee: What were your feelings about my wanting to act?

Nadira: I felt very nice. I felt I owed it to you. So many people have learnt so much from me and I felt it was only right that you should benefit too. I give my opinion whether solicited or not.

Juhee: If I agree with it, I go with it otherwise I beg to differ. Usually when you are directing me, you are not `mummy.' But there are times when one tends to confuse relationships. It is difficult to have working relationships. We have worked together for seven to eight years. I find it...

Nadira: Endearing. We share a strong sense of humour and we laugh and laugh much to the embarrassment of the third person.

Juhee: We will do a replay of this conversation and laugh ourselves silly. If you were to recount your most unforgettable moment in theatre, I guess you would have one for each year!

Nadira: Tu bata (You tell)

Juhee: I think my most memorable moment on stage was my very first performance. You remember in the first scene, I was with forty people on stage. Then there was a blackout and the others left the stage and I was alone on stage. That was really an earth-shattering moment. Alone on stage in Nehru theatre, with a 1,200 strong audience and papa (Raj Babbar) sitting in the first row! Our differences of opinion are resolved through dialogue and time. Otherwise anyway I am a conservative dresser so we don't get into many arguments about my clothes and stuff...

Nadira: I trust your inclinations and your decisions. I know you will do the right thing.

Juhee: But this morning on the flight when we were talking about my friend, who visited us, you said she should not have worn a dress, as she was pregnant. I thought she looked very cute. And there is curfew. Papa does not like me to be out after 9.30.

Nadira: And I get sandwiched between you and him!

(Nadira tries on Juhee's glasses)

Juhee: Mama don't, they will become wide

Nadira: I think it looks nice on me and also my face is narrower than yours. Do you wear glasses for short sight or long sight?

Juhee: Both! One eye is short sighted and the other is long sighted.

Nadira: You know with 80 per cent of our time spent rehearsing and working on a play, any evening if we get to spend at home, I like to be alone.

Juhee: You get your alone time and also go for movies with friends. There are so many movies that I have not seen and when I say `let's go for it,' you say you have already seen it. You know I would like to give you many things, but most importantly I would like to give a really good theatre. I hope 20 years down the line; I am able to build one for you.

Nadira: And I would like to give you a good husband - who has a sense of humour, education, culture, respects our work and has money for a comfortable living. He does not need to have 6 Mercedes

Juhee: One would do. You are an amazing cook but it irritates me. The kitchen is common for papa's office, the theatre group and at any given time there are about 30 people you cook for. I wish you wouldn't

Nadira: I love cooking. But you - ek cup chai bhi nahin banati (you don't even make a cup of tea)

Juhee: I knew that was coming can we please change the topic?