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15 Years of Life in a Metro EXCLUSIVE: “I felt that my kiss with Dharmendra was out of the box and provided SHOCK value. Two old people don’t really kiss in Hindi movies. However, they do have romance in their blood” – Nafisa Ali

en Bollywood News 15 Years of Life in a Metro EXCLUSIVE: “I felt that my kiss with Dharmendra was out of the box and provided SHOCK value. Two old people don’t really kiss in Hindi movies. However, they do have romance in their blood” – Nafisa Ali

The anthology has become a trend nowadays. However, 15 years ago, director Anurag Basu attempted to make a film with three stories, which were different from one another, and yet inter-connected in some way. Titled Life In A Metro, the film got acclaim and also box office numbers thanks to the plot, script, execution, performances and unforgettable music score by Pritam Chakraborty. The film had an ensemble cast, comprising Dharmendra, Nafisa Ali, Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Shilpa Shetty, Shiney Ahuja, Kangana Ranaut, Kay Kay Menon and Sharman Joshi. Everyone did well but Nafisa Ali stood out. Hers was a rare track in Bollywood which focused on the romance between two old-aged people. As a result, it emerged as one of the most memorable aspects of not just Life In A Metro but also of Bollywood.

15 Years of Life in a Metro EXCLUSIVE: “I felt that my kiss with Dharmendra was out of the box and provided SHOCK value. Two old people don’t really kiss in Hindi movies. However, they do have romance in their blood” – Nafisa Ali

As Life In A Metro celebrated its 15th anniversary, Bollywood Hungama decided to exclusively speak to Nafisa Ali who is currently in Perth, Australia. When asked what made her say yes to the film, she explained, “Actually, Dharam (Dharmendra), his wife Hema (Hema Malini) and I go a long way back as friends. So, when this role came about, Dharam wanted me to act in it. I, however, hesitated. Then director Anurag Basu also came to persuade me. He told me to take it up and that I am perfect for the role. And Dharam, as you know, is a sweetheart. When he continued to insist, I agreed. That’s how Life In A Metro happened for me.”

Nafisa Ali continued, “It was shot in such a way that there were 3 stories in 1 film. Hence, it was a unique way of bringing out modernity, romance and the various nuances of life. Meanwhile, Anurag Basu is a very great director and quite sensitive. We had a wonderful time shooting it. I felt the story was important to be told and that’s why I accepted it. I felt that the old people today and their feelings and desires are not acknowledged in the eyes of their children. Children always dominate and they always have their viewpoints. Our track was about two old people who were childhood sweethearts. Their children don’t have time for them; they visit them once in a while the parent is shifted to an old-age home. When love came her way, they object, maybe for inheritance or maybe because of what will the society say. Therefore, Dharam and I decide to run away.”

The scene where both elope on a bike while the staff person from the old-aged person made everyone smile in the theatre. She laughed and stated, “It's such a cute scene. I jump on the scooter and hold him tight!”

When asked about the feedback she got for her role, the veteran actor revealed, “I was at Heathrow airport and one lady, who’s a lawyer, approached me. She told me that her mother was also a widow and she wished to remarry. However, the lady and her siblings were not allowing her to do so. She then told me that her perspective changed after watching our track in Life In A Metro, and that they told their mother that she should live the life the way she wants to. Moreover, they also got her remarried to the person she loved. It was heartening and the purpose of the film was served as we managed to enlighten that life doesn’t stop when you become a widow or a widower.”

In the pre-climax, Nafisa Ali and Dharmendra also share a kiss. When asked about it, she replied, “When you are an actor, you have to portray whatever is required from your character. I felt that it (the kiss) was out of the box and provided shock value. Two old people don’t really kiss in Hindi movies. However, the old people do have romance in their blood and they do have feelings and emotions.”

Did it require cajoling on the part of Anurag Basu to get her to do the kiss in Life In a Metro. Nafisa Ali admitted, “Anurag was very smart. He told me that he had leukaemia and he made me very emotional (laughs)! He insisted that the scene is very important to the film and hence, I agreed.”

Talking about Anurag Basu, it is said that he is known to improvise and instruct his actors to come unprepared. On this, Nafisa Ali said, “We were narrated the scenes and we emoted it in pure emotion. Dharam and I are comfortable together. He’s an adorable person and hence, it was very easy to play this part. I felt that even though I am getting old. So I was like ‘let’s do this and let’s share the message to the youth’.”

Anurag Basu in an interview had said that shooting Dharmendra’s entry scene at Sion railway station was memorable as thousands of people had come to see the shoot. “They didn’t come to see me. They came to see Dharam,” quipped Nafisa Ali and laughed heartily. She continued, “Dharam was very badmaash. When the shot was being filmed, he bent a little to get his best angle and looked up at me. Meanwhile, I kept hoping that my double chin was not showing!” She, however, is glad that the scene came out very well.

Not just the scene, the whole track came out well. She nodded and said, “It was very cute, joyful, and emotional and brought you to tears.” What also complimented the film was the music score. She stated, “Of course. The music was beautiful in Life In A Metro.”

Is she still in touch with Dharmendra? She replied, “Oh yes. I keep meeting Dharam regularly.” She lost touch with Anurag Basu though, due to the happenings in her life. She said, “After being diagnosed with cancer, I was in Goa. Currently, I am in Perth. Nevertheless, I cherish my time in the world of cinema. I just acted once again in Sooraj Barjatya’s film, Uunchai. There’s a comfort level when you are working with your old friends and colleagues.” She revealed that she plays Amitabh Bachchan’s wife in the movie and that the shoot has been wrapped up.

When asked how she is doing now, health-wise, Nafisa Ali answered, “I am perfectly okay. I am in remission. It’s been two years. I am living life to the fullest (smiles). If I get a special role, I will never refuse. I always call myself a comet.” And why is that? To which she said excitedly, “In cinema, people tend to forget you. But when there’s a role for me, the directors always find me. It comes out of the blue. Hence, I am not a star. I am a comet!”

She’s also known for her paintings. She revealed, “I had bought a whole lot of paints and canvases. I was going to teach my grandchildren how to paint in Goa. And then the lockdown happened in March 2020. I was living alone by myself and before I feared that I would go crazy sitting alone, I started painting and I consumed my thoughts and energies in it.”

What also kept her busy was her love for the animals, “The lockdown was traumatic for people, especially animals. I would be the only person on the beach with a haversack of dog food, as a volunteer from the Goa government. I used to feed all the strays. There was no food for them. For 6 months, I fed them. Every dog on Morjim beach knew me. It was so sweet; they’d see me from miles away and come running (laughs)! The police also knew me and realized that I have an important role to play. Hence, I was never stopped.”

What is she doing in Perth? Nafisa Ali said, “I am with my mother and brother. My mother is 85 and is not keeping well. She had some heart issues. Thankfully, the government has lifted restrictions in Australia. Hence, I rushed to Perth to be with me. Now she’s better.”

However, she did face some roadblocks before flying Down Under, “My visa application was not getting processed. I was so stressed. I sent a Twitter message to the High Commissioner of Australia. I informed him that my mother is sick and that I need to go. Some miracle happened and the visa was given to me in just 2 hours!”

Also Read: Dharmendra shares a cute video from his reunion with Tanuja – ‘A recent affectionate meeting’

More Pages: Life In A... Metro Box Office Collection


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