(2006) Woman on top

What did the real Kiranjit Ahluwalia say to you after she saw the film Provoked?
It was very important for us that she see the film at Cannes. After she watched it, she turned to me and said, ‘‘That was me.’’ For me, that was the biggest compliment. She will try and come to India for the premiere. Immediately after the screening she had to go for a wedding so we were concerned about how her family was going to take it, but it all went well.

What was it about her character that appealed to you when you first read the script?
The story was obviously the winner and her courage was really the inspiration. And as you know, I always enjoy taking up a role that is challenging.

Were you in any way apprehensive about not looking glamourous?
When my first film Iruvar released, I thought I had proved that it was the character in a film that was important to me and not the look. But here I am saying it all over again.

What was it like working with the cast from London in Provoked?
Naveen Andrews and I have worked together earlier on a very different film Bride and Prejudice, so for us it was a reunion of sorts. He’s a great actor. Working with Miranda Richardson was simply magic. I think you can tell that there’s chemistry just by looking at our performance. I’m really glad that I got to discover Nandita Das as an actor because I’m a great fan of her work.

You’re going to be seen in two diverse roles, a battered wife in Provoked and then Umrao Jaan?
The two women have over a hundred years of history between them. Umrao Jaan was very challenging for me. Even after Vaibhavi Merchant had choreographed the beautiful pieces, it was OP Dutta who often came to me and asked me to add that extra bit of ada. I’m a huge fan of both the novel and Rekha’s Umrao Jaan. The dance sequences are so brilliantly done. Comparisons are inevitable, but I’ve tried my best to be true to the character.

- Expressindia

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