French, swimming, sign language…Skills that Bollywood teaches

April 19th, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Mani Ratnam
By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) These days actors don’t mind picking up new skills for their roles. From the legendary Amitabh Bachchan and veteran Shabana Azmi to the new breed of actors like Bipasha Basu, everyone has learnt something to portray their characters realistically. Amitabh Bachchan: For the first time in my career I had to learn a skill for Sanjay Bhansali’s “Black”. I learnt the sign language. I think this silent but utterly eloquent way of communicating helped me become a better human being and actor.

Bipasha Basu: For “Dhoom 2″, I finally learnt to swim. Earlier, I couldn’t even get into the water. Swimming was required for a surfing shot. However, finally I didn’t have to apply my new skill because the sea was too rough. But at least I learnt how to swim.

Victor Banerjee: The one skill that I had the hardest time learning for a role was a bit of a joke. You see, I had to learn to speak Urdu for my first Hindi film “Shatranj Ke Khiladi”, and that too for the mighty Satyajit Ray. I had three Urdu teachers - Shama Zaidi, Javed Siddiqui and Saeed Jaffrey, all spewing venom and tearing me apart because Urdu with a Bengali accent is certainly peculiar. And another unique skill was for a Bengali film “Pratidaan” where I had to learn how to wield the ‘lathi’ to play the baddie while Naseeruddin Shah and Sharmila Tagore played the romantic lead.

Urmila Matondkar: For “Naina” I had to learn and understand the complete body language of the blind. I also got to understand the psychological changes and physical disturbances in a person after she gains her vision. It was then that I realised how much we take our senses for granted.

Shabana Azmi: For “Morning Raga” I had to master Carnatic music. It was a terrifying and frustrating learning process. But it felt very exhilarating when I got it right. Thank god for my guru Ranjini and her patience and dedication.

Shilpa Shetty: For Indra Kumar’s “Rishtey” I had to learn to speak Hindi with a Marathi accent. That was more difficult than anything I had to face in “Big Brother”.

Lara Dutta: I had to learn to speak French for “Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom”. I absolutely loved it. I got to learn the cheesiest pick-up lines.

Aftab Shivdasani: For Vikram Bhatt’s “Red”, I had to work on my body. I went through rigorous training and had to be on a strict diet for several months. Though it required immense discipline, I enjoyed it tremendously.

Rajit Kapur: To play the character of Sadanand Borde in my only Marathi film “Limited Manuski”, I had to ride a scooter. I didn’t know how to drive it. I reached Pune a day earlier to start practicing. I didn’t know on the first day of shooting that I had to drive through the crowded streets of old Pune. I was very nervous at the outset. I thought I’d knock someone down. But eventually I had a ball.

R. Madhavan: I have had to learn just one skill as an actor. And that was for the Tamil version of Mani Ratnam’s “Yuva”. For the role of the street lout I had to walk, talk and abuse like a goon. I spent days with guys in chawls, told them to brief me on the art of appearing uncouth on screen without overdoing it. My entire body language changed.

Vidya Balan: The toughest thing that I had to learn for a role would have to be plying the wheelchair effortlessly for “Guru”, and that too with one foot twisted. That is when I realised how many of our physical abilities we take for granted.

Riteish Deshmukh: For Anubhav Sinha’s “Cash” I had to learn street luge. It’s actually lying down on a skateboard and chasing cars. It was risky but exciting.

Hema Malini: For Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan I had to learn to speak Urdu, and I really enjoyed myself. Ironically, I hardy spoke in the film.

Raima Sen: For Aparna Sen’s “The Japanese Wife” I had to learn how to do domestic chores. It wasn’t enough to just fake it. My character actually had to look like she does house work. My director needed that to show in my body language. So I did actual cleaning and sweeping every day till these chores were ingrained in me.

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