Working with Bhansali
Playing Dhankore, the female don in Sanjay Bhansali’s film was tough. But I loved the experience of playing this powerful woman who commands a lot of respect. Luckily, the dialect was not a problem. Sanjay was of great help in getting a fine performance out of me. I remember the time he would come home to meet mom (late actress Dina Pathak). They shared a warmth and mutual respect for each other. She had fond memories of her shooting with him during Devdas.
I am half-Punjabi and half-Gujarati. My dad’s friends were mostly Gujarati and I am proud to be a part of both the worlds. I lost my dad when I was very young. Naturally, mom and we sisters became very close and shared a strong bond. Like all mothers, she was worried about me, especially after my elder sister, Ratna’s (actor Ratna Pathak Shah) marriage.
She would often say, ‘is ladki ka kya hoga’ (laughs). Since I never visited hersets in my growing years, not many people knew me. I had once accompanied mom to an awards function. When we arrived there, she introduced me to everyone as her second daughter and people seemed surprised that my mom had a second daughter too.
As a kid, I did not consider acting as a career. My mom had played the lead in a play Mena Gurjari for many years. Later, she wanted to direct it as well and thought I was perfect for the lead character. I agreed to it. The play was a huge success and my act became the talk of the town. During the same time, I was doing another play with Dinesh Thakur. Shyam Benegal spotted me in that and offered me Kalyug. After that, I did a couple of films like Bazaar, Mirch Masala and Masoom.
A well-deserved sabbatical
In the ‘90s, I took a break from films because my priorities had changed. I wanted to devote more time for my home and family. That’s when Pankaj (Kapur) suggested that we start a production house. So we started with the show Mohan Das BALLB. I was the executive producer and my kids also helped behind the scenes, it kept the family together while working. I learnt a lot from Pankaj, he’s a great teacher besides being a great actor. His guru mantra is that the script will guide an actor.
Even now, I want to give enough time to my family. So I only take on roles that have substance in them and keep me excited. Like my role of Hansa in Khichdi which was entertaining and popular as well.
The family portrait
Whenever Ratna and I meet, there’s a lot of chatter about our lives, families and friends. We don’t talk much about films. I feel she’s a fabulous actress, I loved her in Golmaal-3 and Sarabhai vs Sarabhai. My kids-Runaah and Sanah are my world. Since they have grown up in a film family, acting is in their blood. Both of them worked behind the camera with Pankaj during Mausam. Sanah has studied acting in New York and will take up acting whenever she is ready for it. My son Ruhaan will also studying acting and direction in New York. As for Shahid, he is doing well for himself. Personally speaking, I hope that he gets a girl who will always keep him happy. When we read that Pankaj is hunting for a bride for him, we can’t help but laugh. We always tell him ‘humne ek doosre ko itni mushkil se dhoonda hai, tum khud ke liye dhoond lo’ (laughs).