Can you tell us about your role?
I play a Marathi girl born and brought up in Dharavi, Mumbai. My name is Puyal Charumathi Gaikwad in the film. Ranjith is very keen with details and that's why he gave Charumathi as my middle name instead of my father's middle name. Puyal means storm. The girl is like a storm, very feisty and a strong headed girl of Mumbai.
You have won many awards for your performance. Did Kaala satisfy you in that department?
Yes, I have won many awards. But awards are never my intentions. Acting in films happened by chance and whatever happens as an offshoot is always like an extra thing.
There are different projects which I do for different reasons. There are some films I do for commercial reasons, some for pure intention to satisfy my need as an artist. There are few films which I have to see for both the economics and the role equally. Then there are some roles which I do just for the experience of it. Kaala was one of such films that I needed to do for the experience of working with Rajinikanth. It also satisfied me artistically because as an artist I feel I am responsible in many ways and I felt that solidarity with Ranjith and his vision as a director. So it was a bonus that I got to work in a Rajinikanth film which was a huge experience but it is just not a mass commercial film. If you talk about performance, there would be many films which explore my side as a performer and there is Kaala where you will see glimpses of my performances.
You dubbed in your Sinhalese film. Did you dub in Kaala? If yes, how was it?
Yes, I did dub for my Sinhalese film where I speak my lines in Sinhala and Tamil. I dubbed for Kaala and it was fun. I love learning new languages and speaking them. I did it in Kaala as well. I guess everyone was happy with my dubbing. I like to dub for my roles as it is weird to see myself with a different voice. I try to speak my lines as much as possible.
How was working with Rajinikanth?
Of course, it was great working with Rajinikanth sir. You can't expect anything less. I have heard him being humble, down to earth etc. These are things which everybody knows. But when you see it first hand, you really are filled with a joy of how a man can be loving and gracious. He is a beautiful soul regardless of him being the superstar. What makes him so beautiful is his simplicity and humanity. It is very rare to find someone like him especially in an industry which is all about power, fame and inflated egos. For people who want to be simple, humble and human in this industry, he serves as a great example. For me, he was a great inspiration.
How was Ranjith as a director?
He was fantastic. Ranjith is very clear and clever. He is one of the smartest directors I have worked with. He knows what he is dealing with. He is dealing with all the weight of how a Rajinikanth film should be and at the same time, he has the courage to talk about things, the system, the power, the politics and the issues which our society is avoiding to talk about. Hats off to his courage and the way he is doing it! He is very sensitive as a director, as a person and very open; yet he knows what is expected of him. So I give full marks to him. He is a very talented director. He also found relationship details in the film in my character as well as that of Kaala, Zarina or Kaala's wife. All those aspects are very important for storytelling. He made all the characters really see things and not merely being there as secondary supportive characters.
You have worked in many film industries. Can you compare the working styles?
It is different with each state and language. Each industry has a different style. I don't know how to compare them. I guess it comes with the food, the culture and our ways of being in each state. In Marathi film set, it will be a small film set and crew. It is more like a family. People move and talk like a family. It is similar in Tamil too.
At Kaala sets, after lunch, people used to ask me if I had eaten. I was perplexed because we all had lunch break at the same time and why are people asking me. Later I realized, it is the custom to ask if you had had good food. I also understand that there is huge respect given to food. If a person is eating, he/she would not be disturbed here. These things are subtle details I found in Tamil film industry. It is like a family but a bigger family especially on the sets Kaala. People are very caring here.
Hindi, I won't say very professional but less family like. We work, we give our shot, we talk and we get back into our vanity van. It depends on each film set. But there is less of this family feeling in the sets of Hindi film.
What are your current projects? Have you signed any Tamil film?
I have worked in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Mere Pyare Prime Minister which will release on October 2, for Gandhi Jayanthi. I also have a Marathi film which will release by the end of this year. I have not signed any Tamil films yet. I have a few proposals and I am reading scripts. I am finding the right people to work with. My current project is a documentary which I am directing. It is now in pre-production stage. It is about real people, people from our society, people who had experienced unconditional love and compassion through their daily lives. It is the documentary that features people from north of India, a Spanish woman, a folk singer from West Bengal and others. I will start shooting from July.
Wishing you the best of luck Anjali!