Auntyji’s Adventures in Bollywood
Zenobia Shroff, the talented actress who starred in Sooni Taraporevala’s splendid ‘Little Zizou’ is back on the big screen, this time in a real, dyed in glitz, Bollywood super-starrer ‘Ek Main aur Ekk Tu’ starring Bollywood royalty Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan and produced by none other than Karan Johar. The film has a great ensemble cast and New York based Zenobia gets to play Kareena Kapoor’s mother, a fun, cool mom to be sure!
Here she talks about ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’ and the hilarious, catchy item number ‘AuntyJi’ which seems to be dominating the air waves and Youtube videos.
‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’ – The Making of ‘Aunty Ji’
by Zenobia ‘I was Kareena Kapoor’s Mom’ Shroff
Every good Bollywood movie has an item number. Ours is called ‘Aunty Ji’. It’s catchy, and fun. AuntyJi was supposed to be shot in mid October for six nights on an outdoor set in Film City. it takes a logistical miracle to pull off something like this . We had nine of us actors and 125 background dancers and extras. Bosco of Bollywood fame is the choreographer. Bosco and his team had been diligently teaching choreography to all 125 background as well as us actors. I flew from NYC at the end of September.
Finally the day was upon us. As I woke and looked out of my hotel room on Juhu Beach, the Arabian sea and sky above seemed unusually dark and cloudy. October is traditionally the end of the monsoon and the beginning of winter, and is unusually hot and muggy. Hot and muggy it was not. Pleasant and darkly cloudy was more like it. As the day wore on, the clouds looked darker and angrier, and in an usual twist of fate, the rain came down. No, rather I would say it pelted down. Thick, ferocious sheets, so uncharacteristic for October. Soon after I got a phone call that the shoot for that night was on hold.The next few hours the phone calls flew fast and furious.
Alas, the upshot was this: our beautiful set, so carefully and abundantly lit with 300 white Chinese lanterns, even more tiny yellow lights, and with a stage for the band was completely and totally washed out. Heavy hearts all around. The set was beyond repair. A large amount of money and labor was lost. To rebuild we would need at least 7 days, by which time Kareena had committed elsewhere. Her next block of dates were a month away.
The next morning I get a call from the executive producer about the situation. They offered to fly me back to NYC for three weeks and fly me down again or offered to have me stay. I chose to stay. Finally mid-November rolls around. We are all optimistically cautious. what if there is a freak rain storm? Luckily the Gods were now on our side. So in the middle of November more than 200 cast and crew gathered on a hillock in Film City and shot from dusk to dawn each day. It was grueling at times but also a lot of fun. I love to dance but my screen husband does not. It became a running joke that he robbed me of my glory in “Aunty Ji”
Finally on the early morning hours of November 23rd, it was a wrap. not just for the song, but a picture wrap. Cake, confetti and congratulations all around! And so goes the story of ‘Aunty Ji”!
(More about Zenobia – http://www.zenobiashroff.biz)
Zenobia Shroff – ” The Day I became Kareena Kapoor’s Mom!”
1. How did the role come about?
The director Shakun Batra had seen ‘Little Zizou’ and offered me the role of playing Kareena Kapoor’s mom. I can’t say it’s a big role but it’s a really nice part. She is a warm and understanding mom and is a nice, sensible, practical foil to the craziness around her.
2. This must be your first Bollywood film – what was the experience like?
This is my first all out Bollywood venture . ‘Little Zizou’ was an independent as was “When Harry tries to marry’. This is a Dharma production, one of the biggest and finest production houses in India, helmed by the very talented Karan Johar. Working in Bollywood is very similar and very different at the same time. By that I mean the process of film making is the same, but our Indian sensibility is different from the west.
There is a certain warmth and camaraderie on set, with the Indian attitude of ‘Just help me na for one minute’ that I loved. The crew was all in their twenties as is our talented director Shakun Batra, so the vibe was young and fun. On the opposite spectrum was our director of photography, an Englishman, who spoke no Hindi, 40 years senior to Shakun. It was a nice mix.
3. While in Bollywood, did you get any desire to stay on and make it in the big, bad world of Hindi cinema?
Home they say is where the heart is and certainly I was tempted to stay on and do more there. There were quite a few inquiries and meetings that I did have with directors and casting people as word spread I was in town. So hopefully I will do more once this film is released.
4. What was the funniest scene in ‘Ek Main aur Ekk Tu’ for you?
Shakun had the vision of me smoking in one scene with Kareena. Now, I have never put a cigarette in my mouth in all my life – I know, people are amazed! At first they gave me an electric cigarette, but it wouldn’t light up sufficiently. so they gave me a real one. It was hilarious, the crew was giving me gentle, polite hints on how to ‘fake smoke’. I’m trying to do the scene and not look like a fool, and the crew was trying to be polite but you know everyone was probably thinking, are you kidding me? she doesn’t know how to smoke???!!!
5. How was it acting with Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan?
Kareena and Imran were both total professionals. The ease with which they slip into their roles on ‘action’ is incredible. I enjoyed getting to know both of them a little, especially during the one week of night shoots for our item number, when we were there from 6 pm to 6 am for a whole week. I hope our paths cross again