Remember 'Tere Naam'? Yes, I am talking about the film that gave us the famous 'Tere Naam' cut which was sported by most of the youngsters during that period The film's songs were every autowallah's delight and the love-sick Romeos empathized with Salman Khan's Radhe throughout the film.
But the craze just didn't stop there. There was yet another person who caught the attention of many. It was none other than Bhumika Chawla whose coy Nirjala made everyone's heart flutter with her innocence and simplicity.
'Tere Naam' made her into an overnight sensation but sadly, her filmography failed to do justice to her acting talent. But hey, like they say nothing is permanent in showbiz. The actress is back in the limelight with her sister act in Sushant Singh Rajput's 'M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story'.
We recently caught up with the stunning actress at her candid best about her disappearance from Bolly-land, 'Tere Naam 2', rumors about trouble in paradise and of course Salman Khan.
Excerpts from the chat-
1. What took you so long to make a comeback in Bollywood?
I was waiting for a good script to come my way. Earlier when I did have some good scripts things didn't work out. So I guess over a period of time one thing piled on to another and the gap became so long.
2. So how did 'M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story' happened?
I was called by Vicky Sidana, the casting director and then he wanted me to meet the director. I met Neeraj Pandey Sir and we sat for about an hour talking. So that's how things started.
3. Did you met Dhoni's sister Jayanti?
4. What about M.S Dhoni himself?
No. I am hoping to meet him soon. (laughs)
5. What were the challenges before you to enact your role since you didn't meet his sister?
Neeraj Sir is so thorough with his job. Even if you see his previous films he does everything so meticulously that even for a moment I didn't feel that we didn't meet his sister. Finally when he did tell us in the first meeting itself..he told me so many things..it was an eye-opener..Dhoni's journey, his relationship with his parents and sister.
6. How was it working with Sushant Singh Rajput?
It was nice. He is a very hard-working actor and is very dedicated to what he is doing. The moment he comes on sets he is totally prepared. It's joy to work with someone who is so thorough with his work.
7. You even shared screen space with Amitabh Bachchan in the past...
For any actor, working with Mr Bachchan is one of the finest things that they can do. He is like a mini institute in himself in terms of discipline and hard work. Even today I don't think anyone can match his timing ever. His sense of humor, rapport with his co-stars, his respect towards everyone regardless of the status..there is so much to learn from him. I did two films with him and it was a brilliant experience.
8. You even did two films with Salman Khan. But people still talk only about 'Tere Naam' and the other film (Dil Ne Jisse Apna Kahaa) wasn't spoken about. Are you still in touch with him?
No, I am not. I do bump into him at events but otherwise I am not in touch with him personally.
9. When you worked with him in 'Tere Naam' he was on the verge of becoming this 'Bhai' in Bollywood. Of course the film turned out to be a huge hit. But how was it working with him considering he was known for his mood swings and was facing a personal life crisis at that point of time?
Working with Salman was very different. At that point he had his own fun and moods. The mood swings were always on the fun side. He was very chilled out and never bothered about what people were thinking about him. I don't think he is bothered even today. (laughs) It doesn't matter to him and even then he was like that. But he was very kind-hearted even then and what I hear even now is that he is still kind. I still remember if someone on the sets ever complimented his watch, he would just remove it and give it away irrespective of whether it's a Rolex or a Tag Heur. I have seen him doing that.
10. He was going through a personal trauma during 'Tere Naam'. In fact many people even felt that the film derived from his own life. Did he ever discuss anything with you?
We never discussed personal lives. I am someone who stays away from discussing such things and I think he wasn't too interested in discussing it. (laughs). Instead he used to treat everyone with biryani on the sets and would keep cracking jokes.
11. Sometime back Satish Kaushik had said that he is planning to do 'Tere Naam 2' as all the fans keep insisting him. If it ever happens, will we get to see you in it?
I don't know what he is thinking about. I don't know if the audience wants to see me and Salman back again in 'Tere Naam 2'. (laughs) I don't know if the cast will remain the same or it will change. But if it happens then I am sure it will be beautiful journey again.
12. Your films after 'Tere Naam' didn't work wonders at the box office. What do you think went wrong?
Sometimes I just guess it's the timing. Films are always a gamble. Few years back I used to go to Goa. No one remembers 'Tere Naam' there. No one remembers Neerjala in Goa. The only thing that remember is 'Run' and that song 'Dil Mein Hai Jo Baat Hai' from that film. I even remember a lot of people liking 'Silsilay'. So you don't know what works for some people and for some not.
13. How important is it for an actor to be visible in today's time?
I think it's very important in today's time. Visibility is something which is to be seen and heard. But I don't think it's only for the actors, it's applicable for other fields as well. It's very difficult if you take a long gap in any field.
14. Has your choice of choosing films and scripts changed over the years?
No, it hasn't. I am still the person who loves taking risks. I love to risk where my characters in the films are concerned. So many people told me 'Bhumika, you shouldn't be doing a sister's role, your career is doomed'. But why? Today the times have changed. The audience is so open. It doesn't matter what your role is but you have to be good in it. Even back then when I was launched with 'Tere Naam', everyone at that time were having a glamorous launch-pad. I choose a simple role. So people didn't have any questions whether it will work or not. But it did work. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan played a sister in 'Josh' and even in 'Sarbjit'. She was shown aging in the latter film and now here she is in 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' looking so beautiful and gorgeous. So I don't think people should really worry about an actor playing a sister or a mother on screen.
15. From 'Tere Naam' to 'M.S Dhoni' how would you sum up your journey?
It's been a very beautiful journey..something which when you look back to giving you a lot of fond memories. It's a very nice feeling having worked with different people. It gives me a smile on my face.
16. What kept you busy all the while?
A lot of people don't know that I was working down the south all these years. In fact I continued shooting even when I was expecting. I was shooting for a film when I was five months pregnant. Then I took up a Kannada film when my son Yash was just seven months. When he was a year old I did 'Dhoni' so I have done films throughout my pregnancy and post delivery.
17. Any Bollywood film which you were never approached for but wished to be a part of?
Quite a few. 'Queen' is one of them. I couldn't find one fault with the film. It was one of those near perfect pictures that come out. I would have loved to do Kangana's role. But I am sure she is brilliant. I am an ardent fan of Kangana. I think she is one of those really good actresses that we have here today.
18. You always had a sweet, girl next door image. Are you open to doing more challenging roles?
I would love to do them as an actor. I am ready to experiment. But for me to be bold, there has to be a requirement to be bold. I don't want to just look only gorgeous. That's not my thing.
19. So how's Bhumika Chawla in real life?
Just like everyone. (laughs) I have all sorts of emotions and sides to me. I enjoy spending time at home and love reading. I love to go out sometimes and catch up with my friends. I enjoy drawing and sketching. And of course I love cooking for my son. (laughs)
20. You must be aware about the ongoing controversy regarding the ban on Pakistani actors from working in Bollywood. What's your take on it?
I think to get boundaries of physical earth into creativity, getting all that into your creativity or into your thought process is very sad. Actually if an actor or actress is good then it doesn’t matters where he is from! If you are good, you are good. So if people feel that they should be banned, it’s their perspective and thought process. For me indulging too much into caste and religious differences is something that I don’t believe in. Everyone is just normal; if you can connect to a person then you will talk. I don’t think Pakistanis should be targeted. Rest I can say that everyone has their opinion.
21. There have been a lot of rumors surrounding trouble in your marriage since past few years...
I can't believe we are so important yaa. (laughs) We are making difference to someone's life, it's not bad. Well, we are still together and we have a son. (laughs) Well, it's just that people have to say something about someone. I mean who doesn't fight in a marriage..everyone does that (smiles). In fact 99% of couples fight. It's a part of a journey in a relationship. It's okay. But people just complicate it by making it the next big thing.
22. What's next in the pipeline?
I haven't signed anything yet. But hopefully I would be hearing few scripts soon. Let's see if things work out.