Raveena Tandon has done it all – From winning the National Award to being known for her acting skills. When you talk to her, the first thing which strikes you is her carefree attitude. It also seems as if she hasn’t aged since her debut in Patthar Ke Phool (1991) and, in fact, looks more ravishing than ever. She managed to infuse each of her performances with her distinguishable brand of physical energy and natural femininity.

In her latest film, KGF: Chapter 2, Raveena Tandon plays the role of prime minister Ramika Sen—the politician who orders Rocky’s execution. In an exclusive interview with Man’s World, the Aranyak actor talks about her character, journey in the Hindi film industry, criteria to work in a film, if OTT platforms are a game-changer, and more. Excerpt from the interview:

After an incredible performance as Kasturi Dogra in Aranyak, you were seen as Ramika Sen in KGF: Chapter 2, which was an excellent role. What made you say yes to the character?

You know what I liked about Ramika Sen’s character is that she is not apologetic. She never tries to justify her actions; you cannot decide if she is positive or negative, or if she is the hero in the end. You just cannot decide. Usually, in our films, we justify why a character behaves in a certain way, but there’s nothing like that with her. 

How was it getting into play of the Prime Minister? You have brought to life various shades of grey.

The best thing about the director is that he makes every character a hero with his writing. The dialogues have been effectively written by Prashanth Neel and Yash. We didn’t do any workshops to get into the skin of the character; I was clear about what Prashanth wanted. He was very clear about what he wanted from Ramika Sen. After each shot, I used to wait for his approval. 

You recently said that you had a crush on Sanjay Dutt in the past. How was it working with him on KGF after so many years?

It’s always great working with Sanju and this is our ninth film together. When I was nine, I had a massive crush on Chintu Ji (Rishi Kapoor) and when I was just in college, Rocky was released and we all had a crush on Sanju. From there to working with him, it has been a great journey. We have become such good friends and it’s always so much fun working with him. 

 

You know, we’ve just started talking about pan-India films and how it should be just called the ‘Indian Film Industry’ rather than giving it a -wood suffix. What is your take on it?

I second that. This copycat trend of adding ‘-wood ’ to every industry is like giving it a bad nickname. It’s pathetic and brain-numbing. I would want the media to call us the Indian film industry. It’s a great feeling that pan-India films are changing it for us. It’s the integration of every industry now and that’s beautiful. 

South Indian actors enjoy a massive fan following, and there’s even so much competition among fans. What do you think are the reasons behind it? 

Honestly, there aren’t any differences – both are professional and well connected to each other. It’s been a fusion and most of our cinematographers and choreographers come from the South. Today, we are working together to bring out better content. The craze is equal among the fans but down South, they are still deep-rooted in their culture and hence fans build temples for the actors. It’s so beautiful to see that. 

Over the years, what has changed about you as an actor?

Every day is a learning experience. I have intentionally taken roles that were out of my comfort zone and are challenging. I like experimenting – from playing an Assamese housewife to a Bihari woman, from Daman to Shool, from playing Neeta in Aks to doing comedy with Chi Chi (Govinda); from doing Kasturi Dogra to Ramika Sen, it’s been a journey and I have enjoyed every bit of it. 

How important is it for you to play the lead? Also, was it important back in the ‘90s?

It’s the role that matters. It’s not necessary if it’s a lead role or not; it depends on what the director is offering and how you are being presented. I have never been an insecure person, though I’ve met several actors who had insecurities and jealousies. I’ve been blessed and I was always the lead. I was confident about myself, my craft, and how I’ll bring out the best for the audience. 

Any special moments from KGF: Chapter 2?

The way Yash used to help us understand the instructions that were given in Kannada will always be special. He is a great human being. 

Do you think OTT platforms are a game-changer, especially when it comes to portraying female characters in a better light? 

Absolutely. It has brought global awareness of different cinema and cultures. We can watch films from Iran, Korea, and China, whenever we want to. Earlier, we had to wait for film festivals to experience that. It’s good to see that audience is also liking it and our filmmakers are also evolving. It has given me scope to work on different kinds of scripts and stories. 

How do you look back at your journey? Was there a time when people discouraged you?

Initially, a couple of my films didn’t do well and there was this evil side to media in the ‘90s. They didn’t value my honesty and hard work but always managed to find the worst in me because that would sell for them. The media wrote me off as jinxed and said, “If Raveena is in a film, it has to be a flop.” I survived that phase and I was just 18. Everything changed with the release of Mohra. At the success party, in front of all the media, Sonam Rai introduced me as “the lucky mascot” and from that day even the media started calling me lucky. It was such a flip, but my directors and critics always had faith in me. My performances were always appreciated even if the film didn’t do well. 

I can’t think of any poetic words to describe how my journey has been. I can just say, I had my highs and lows, but my father always told me to get up and walk again every time I fall in life. I followed that. I will continue to do that until I meet him on the other side.

All your recent films and series have been a hit. How does it feel? What do you look for in a script?

I want to explore powerful, content-driven characters that stay with you long after you leave the movie hall. At the same time, I want to continue discovering my spectrum as an actor. So, I want to go for roles that challenge me to grow even more. Ramika Sen in KGF: Chapter 2 is a great example of one such character. 

You have explored various genres with Matr, Aranyak, KGF: Chapter 2, Ghudchadi... Tell us something about that. 

Times have changed now and there are so many genres to choose from. I have always wanted to do it all, so I’m charting as many genres as I can.

Tell us something about your character in Ghudchadi.

While I cannot talk too much about my character, I can tell you that you haven’t seen this side of me as an actor. The film is so different from what I have done before and I’m excited about the film going on floors.

(Featured Image Credits: Special arrangement)