Saat Khoon Maaf has been intriguing many a Bollywood fan since we first saw the teaser with Priyanka Chopra saying, “This time I am going to drink his blood” with that maniacal laugh. With each new reveal we learned more about the story and her character and wanted to see more! In a role that she says is one of her most challenging, Priyanka plays Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes, a woman looking for love so much that she marries seven times over the course of 35 years. The film is directed by Vishal Bhardwaj and based on a short story by Ruskin Bond, who also did the screenplay. The seven husbands are played by Neil Nitin Mukesh, John Abraham, Irrfan Khan, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Anu Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and Vivaan Shah. We were lucky to catch the actress for a quick 10 minutes and she gave us some great answers about playing Susanna, working with Vishal, seeing herself at 60 and what acting means to her. Intrigued again? Read on to find out more!
What was your reaction after first reading the script of Saat Khoon Maaf?
Actually Vishal gave me the short story, which Ruskin Bond had written. That is the first thing I saw and based on that I said yes, I definitely want to do the film.
It seems that to play someone like Susanna, you would have to get deep into the character. How did you become Susanna?
Vishal and I chatted a lot. It was actually about three months we were discussing Susanna while I was shooting my film Anjaana Anjaani. I was involved in the film from its screenplay writing on, so I kind of grew with the script!
Tell us about working with Vishal Bhardwaj again. What do you think he brings out in you as an actress?
I think he is somebody who lets me act with my instinct. That is the most amazing part about him. He hardly ever directs. He usually throws an actor on the set and says just do what you think the character would do. That is the scariest part about him as a director, because you have to depend completely and only on your own instincts.
I bet that is scary. It must have also great to have the seven great actors with you to work off of because he does throw you into that situation. What was it like working with them?
I think it was great working with all of them. They all brought a lot to the table and enhanced each story so much. That really worked in our favor, the fact that each of the actors was so involved with the stories, especially since they have very short chapters in the movie. They were all really gung ho to be a part of it and that really meant a lot to us.
At first I thought it was all just Susanna in the sense that she was a black widow, but as I read more she is someone who is searching for love but finds all the wrong guys. What kind of character arc does she go through?
She is lonely girl just looking for love. She finds that love is attracted to her in many, many ways, but they also just happen to be wrong for her.
At this point a voice breaks in and says Priyanka is at a special preview for the film, it is at the interval and lots of people want to speak with her. They ask if they can call back. I say no problem at all, figuring that was the end of our interview since our slot was only for 10 minutes. However, I was wrong, and a little while later, they call back and Priyanka says, “Hi Stacey, I am so sorry I had to leave at that point.”
So we continued…
Is it hard to play someone in a black comedy? I mean you have to play the comedy, the love, the drama and even a bit of the evil.
Of course it was hard to play her. It was one of my most difficult films ever. More than anything because she is such a mix of so many convoluted thoughts and emotions. It was very, very difficult to play her.
What was the most difficult scene to do for the film?
I don’t think there was one particular scene that I would say would be most difficult. I think the aging of Susanna was most difficult.
How did you like yourself looking older?
I think was a hot 60 year old. (Laughs)
How did you go from playing 20 to 60, I mean not only your mindset but it was body movement you had to change?
I think that was the most difficult part for me. It was the body language, the voice and making sure it was seamless, that was most difficult.
So on the way to that first day, that first shot what were you thinking?
I was tremendously nervous because I didn’t know where I would start. I think so far so good. The film is over. It is looking great. I am just hoping for the best now.
The early reviews have been great and have given you rave reviews. How does that feel?
I feel fantastic. I am so happy because we worked so hard on this film. And now the reviews have come in and they are speaking so highly of the film and my work. I am really happy.
How do you think you have grown as an actress over your career?
See I am self-taught. My acting career has been my school. I never had any help, push or had any knowledge of cinema or acting. I think my growth has been tremendous. I think with every film it hopefully will only be more.
What do you think makes you a good actress?
I think that I act from my heart. Acting for me is spiritual; it is not just a job. I have a relationship, which is almost close to godliness when it comes to acting; it is really meditation between action and cut.
Do you have a hard time letting go of your characters once you are done?
No, not at all. I think I am pretty switch on, switch off that way.
Can you tell us what is coming up next?
Right after this will be Don 2, Agneepath, then a film called Barfee which is Anurag Basu’s film, then there is Krrish 2 and then Kunal Kohli’s next film.
What factors do you consider when choosing a role?
I have to feel it from the heart. Like I told you it is spiritual for me. When I hear it I just have to feel from heart to know that this is a story I want to do.
What does your fans support mean to you?
It is tremendous. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.
It was a fabulous though much to short experience to talk with Priyanka Chopra and I would like to thank her for taking the time during that preview to talk with me, and even more for coming back to finish. You can see the seven avatars, the seven husbands and the seven murders now because Saat Khoon Maaf has already hit theaters! Go check it out soon!