”Kiara told me she wanted to join films’

‘I introduced her around.’
‘Her first audition was for Heropanti, but she did not get it.’
‘Now she is doing movies regularly.’
‘After her movie releases, she always calls me to ask if I have seen the movie and if I liked the way she acted.’

Anooradha Patel has been in the film industry for five decades.

She has appeared in movies like Love in Goa, Utsav, Phir Ayee Barsat, Dharm Adhikari, Sadaa Suhagan, Ijaazat, Rukhsat and recently, in Radhe Shyam. Now, she will be seen in SatyaPrem Ki Katha.

Ashok Kumar’s granddaughter (his elder daughter Bharti Jaffrey’s daughter) and Kishore Kumar’s grandniece, Anooradha — surprise, surprise — is also related to Kiara Advani, her costar in SatyaPrem Ki Katha.

“Her mother Genevieve is my step-sister,” Anooradha tells A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com.

The first of a multi-part interview:

Facing the camera for the first time to facing it now, how different has it been?

When I was 10 years old, I did a film for the BBC about polio victims. I just followed instructions.

When I was 12, I did a film called Kamli for Films Division. It was about child marriage and dowry.

I was very happy those days because the principal would give me permission to bunk classes.

When I was in St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, I used to model regularly. The ad agencies used to come to our college looking for fresh faces.

My brother Rahul wanted to be a fashion photographer (Rahul Patel is one of India’s leading photographers) and he used to use me as a model to practice.

I studied interior designing and worked in the field for six months. But I found it boring.

When I went for shooting and people realised that I was Ashok Kumar’s grandchild, they respected me a lot.

Khiladi was my first movie with Shabana Azmi and Nadira. I met Kanwaljeet (Singh) on the sets; he was cast opposite Shabana.

That movie took seven years to complete. I couldn’t complete it. They got another actor to do my role.

By the time it was completed, I was married (to Kanwaljeet).

I am comfortable in front of the camera.

I get nervous when I start a new project, but after that, I am okay.

One of the standout films in your career was Utsav. Though the film was made in 1984, it was an example on how sensuality could be shown on screen without making the audience cringe.

It was a period drama and gracefully done. The ambience was great.

It was shot in a respectful way.

You made a careful return to acting, almost as if you were testing the waters, in 2017. What made you feel the time was right for you to re-enter the profession?

I was a mother with two children.

I was shooting a 56-episode serial for Sony TV.

One day I returned from the shoot at 4 am. I had done a 20-hour shift. My 15 month baby boy was lying in my mother-in-law’s lap. He was ill and had loose motions.

I drove him to the hospital immediately.

He was dehydrated. They put him on a saline drip and the next morning he was okay. I decided to look after my children.

Last year, you were seen in Radhe Shyam with Pooja Hegde and Prabhas. This year, we will see you in SatyaPrem Ki Katha with Kiara Advani and Kartik Aaryan. What was it like working with them?

You know, Kiara is related to me. Her mother Genevieve is my step-sister.

One day, Kiara called me and said she wanted to join the film industry. I introduced her around.

Her first audition was for Heropanti, but she did not get it. She persisted and later, entered the film industry.

Now she is doing movies regularly. After her movie releases, she always calls me to ask if I have seen the movie and if I liked the way she acted.

Kartik Aaryan is such a nice boy. He improvises on the sets.

He doesn’t only concentrate on his own role; he contributes to the entire shoot.

What are the changes in the industry that you don’t like?

These days, stars have such huge teams of 9 to 10 people.

A make-up man with an assistant, a hair-stylist with an assistant, a chef with an assistant, a spot boy with an assistant. Earlier, we managed with one make-up man and hairdresser.

Producers have to bear the cost.

Those days, we were innocent. The actors today are much more aware.

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