Milan Luthria’s ‘The Dirty Picture’ has been hailed as one of Bollywood’s breakout films. While Vidya Balan was able to change the game for all the actresses, Tushar Kapoor relieved all his inhibitions from his unorthodox role.

Today, as the film completes nine glorious years, Itims exclusively connected with Tushar, who was exposed to a part of ‘The Dirty Picture’, his quirky character, working with Vidya Balan, and more. Excerpt…

‘The Dirty Picture’ has served 9 wonderful years. How does it feel?
In the last decade or so from 2010 to 2019, it feels like time has really flown by because I have no idea where it went. ‘The Dirty Picture’ happened in 2011 and I can vividly remember it as it is happening now. It was such an eventful film for all of us. It doesn’t look like nine years have passed. It feels so insane.

You always surprise your audience with your choice of films and performances and you do the same with ‘The Dirty Picture’. What was your experience like?
‘The Dirty Picture’ was a very easy experience, I’m very honest. With the mustache and everything, I had a very challenging look. I really don’t have much of a supporting role. This was a very important role. In the conventional sense if you are going to look, I was the hero of the film because I was the only positive character in the film. Everyone comes and goes and there is no really romantic track in that sense.

I really wanted to rise above the cameo role I had in the film. It was not the main character and the supporting role and I had to feel my presence. And it was challenging. The experience was good. It was so wonderful to work with Milan sir. He’s a very classy guy. He understands cinema and beauty. They know how to get the best out of actors. We have a good professional relationship. They understood me and it wasn’t really that hard. I had to really internalize some feelings. I had the opportunity to work with Naseeruddin Shah for the first time. It just happened. I can’t really decode it and say how the experience changed. Whatever the challenges, it was smooth. All came together and some of the films, no more planning than just being produced. They have their own destiny. And that’s what ‘Dirty Picture’ is all about.

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What attracted you to your character Ramakant? How did you prepare for it?
I wasn’t sure of the role I’d be playing. It was a small role. I was a bit scared and I left it to the world to really decide where this character was going to go. I’m happy with the way it turned out. Honestly, Ramakant was lighter and I think he might have had more of a role in the film. Nevertheless, people still remember my role today. I have no complaints.

I got ready for my role by watching some movies. I remember Milan (Luthria) telling Smita Patil to watch her film ‘Bhumika’. One character in the movie is very similar to my character in the movie. I have also seen Kamal Haasan’s 70s adult comedy. So these are the pictures I saw to understand what this character is all about.

There was a lot of talk about it before the film was released as ‘obscene’. How did you deal with such reactions?
The film, in its trailer, has a clear sign of an adult star and therefore some kind of thing in adult nature. However, I do recall that there was a lot of excitement and curiosity, not just among the masses but between the classes that the movie had to go through. That’s because the trailer really talked about the unconventional nature of the film, the courage and the qualities that break the path. The trailer was a big hit. I don’t think there was any negativity.

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After that Bollywood got a negative and it is very bad today. ‘The Dirty Picture’ came at a time when people were more receptive to all kinds of films.

What kind of compliments have you received since the film was released?
I got a lot of compliments because the film opened and did so well. While some of the reviews were very admirable, there were some who felt that the character was not as capable as it could be. But it did get attention and I got a lot of compliments from a lot of people, especially for a sequence in which I had to show how excited I was with a certain success in my love life. I’ve done a dance that people really enjoy. To the extent that it plays an unconventional role, it was a big hit for me and feather in my cap.

How was it working with Vidya Balan?
Vidya Balan is the most natural actor of his generation, at least from who I work with. She’s so professional, you don’t even need to know what kind of person she is. You don’t have to go beyond that. I wonder how to get to know her on a personal level. On sets, she is very professional. She is someone you want to work with again and again. They took professionalism to another level. She is honest, sincere and disciplined in her work.

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If not Vidya, who do you think can pull off the role of Silk?
I don’t see anyone else doing that except Vidya Silk’s role. However, from the previous generation, Sridevi could have pulled it off even though she was alive and working during Silk Smitha. I think Sridevi had innocence, sexual attraction and vulnerability on screen to bring these character layers. Sridevi was a great actress so it was ACID.

Did you get the chance to work with Naseeruddin Shah in the film? How did it work with one of the legends?
Working with Nasir Bhai is great. After that I worked with him again. At both times, I never thought I was working with a legend. He keeps it cool and easy. I don’t remember ever being stressed before the first scene I did with him. He is not intimidating. He doesn’t make other actors insecure. He does not come with his seniority baggage and his body of work. He knows his job well and you know your job too. They instill a lot of confidence in the other actors they work with. I love to work with him many times.

How is Milan Luthria as director?
Milan Luthria is a very classy South Mumbai Bollywood director, which is very unusual. He knows the grammar of filmmaking. He has grown up in the film industry. He knows how to handle actors. He has been instrumental in making my experience of working with this film easy. He gets things done by his actors without sounding too much or too hard.

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What are your fondest memories from the movie sets?
I don’t have a fond memory. I still remember the entire studio assigned to where I was coming and going. He would shoot my scenes and then go to the Vidya scenes. I was going back and forth from Mumbai to Hyderabad, where the set was a couple of times. I remember the kissing scene.

That was my first kissing scene in a movie and I had to do it with Vidya. She was a little nervous about it. However, we are comfortable with each other. I was very talkative before that scene, which made her feel comfortable. The icing on the cake was that in a lot of reviews, the scene was hailed as a major turning point in the film and a highlight of the drama. I was glad that we threw out the kissing scene. It was very relevant to the screenplay and it was treated with respect. There are no negative comments about this or any scandals. That was a big win for the kissing scene.

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