Going by the trailer, Mom is the darkest role you’ve played?
It isn’t at all a dark character. That’s a misconception. It’s a very emotional film. And I got to work with such great actors Akshaye Khanna, Nawazuddin, Sajal Ali, and Adnan Siddiqui. They’re wonderful…
Sajal Ali who plays your daughter became very attached to you?
Yes absolutely. We were close from the start. Then during the schedule in Georgia Sajal and my two daughters and I bonded beautifully. Sajal’s mother’s death shattered her. It is very; very unfortunate she isn’t there now to see her daughter’s film. But Sajal is like my third child. Now I feel I’ve one more daughter.
You never used to bond with your co-stars the way you did with Sajal?
It isn’t that. I actually had a good rapport with all my co-stars whom I worked with.
Are you now opening up with your co-actors?
Aisa kuch nahin hai. I am the same.
Akshay Khanna has said you take the concept of reclusiveness to another level. Do you agree?
Look, Mom is not the kind of film where I could sit and joke around with my co-stars. It isn’t a comedy or love story where I could be constantly talking. Mom is a very intense drama. I wanted to be in that kind of a frame of mind where I felt isolated from others. It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part to be aloof during Mom. It was just the way my character had to be. It was our director Ravi Udyawar who did all the talking on this one.
Nawazuddin thinks you are the best actor in the world?
Coming from him, that’s a huge compliment. I am overwhelmed. I am a huge admirer of Nawaz. I love all his characters in Badlapur, Gangs Of Wasseypur, Raman Raghav…And Sajal Ali will surprise everybody. Akshaye Khanna also. Such a strong performer. He doesn’t have to do anything. He just has to stand in a frame and the audience won’t look at anybody.
Sorry, which audience are you talking about? The one I know can’t look at anybody else when you are in the frame?
(Laughs). In that case you see Mom once for me and then again for the other actors.
We had to wait three years after English Vinglish to see you in Mom. Why?
After English Vinglish I was under no compulsion to do another film. Mom grabbed my attention. I know it will be compared with English Vinglish. That film made such an impact. Everybody from children to old people identified with my character. I don’t know how much of an impact Mom would make. But as an actor it really satisfied me. I am lucky to have worked with Gauri Shinde in English Vinglish and now Ravi Udyawar in Mom. He is so passionate about his work. He made everybody’s job easier.
You make everybody’s job easier?
Aisa kuch nahin hai.
Do I have to wait three years again after Mom to see you back?
No no no. This time I will be back much sooner. In fact I am already closing another project.
That whole controversy about you turning down Baahubali?
Once and for all, there’s nothing to talk about. It’s over and done with. I have turned down so many roles in the past. It isn’t nice to talk about the films that you don’t do.
How did you end up doing that awful Puli after English Vinglish. Kaise hua?
(Laughs) Ho gaya.
Finally what should I expect from Mom?
I don’t know how successful it will be. But this much I can say. When people leave the theatre they will take something valuable away with them from Mom. Just like they did from English Vinglish.