She walks into the crowded Starbucks at Dubai Mall, well-masked and happy about the fact that she can get away without the crowds gathering around her. Ordinarily, this would create a commotion of fan-moments and a deluge of selfie requests, for that is the effect the Mast Mast girl has on the Dubai crowds, be it desi and non-desi. As she places the order, the lady at the counter asks her name and she says Raveena. The lady can’t get it in all the noise, so she says, it is Rasha (her daughter’s name) and we settle in one of the corners of the buzzing coffee shop. The beautiful Raveena Tandon then, lowers her mask, insists that I order a cookie and we start chatting…
How was the lockdown for you?
That lockdown has had its pro’s and con’s and I feel that the pandemic has given all of us the value of time. Under normal circumstances, kids are busy with schools, classes and friends and so are we. This was a good time to bond and we as a family had such an amazing time with each other – we sang, we danced, we were together and that kept our spirits high. The pandemic is a sad lesson to learn for humanity but I believe that positive thinking saves the day, though the word positive isn’t a great word to throw around these days. (Laughs). Depression has killed a lot of people because your own thoughts surface and you have to confront them. Also, there have been natural calamities everywhere and we have to be prepared for the best and for the worst. Hope we grow compassionate as people and understand the perils of being materialistic.
How do you address the issue of excesses?
God has gotten us to the basics. My Dubai trip is my first trip in two years. I didn’t come here to shop because when I opened my wardrobe back home, I had brand new clothes with the labels up. We hadn’t gone anywhere in the last few years. I don’t need to shop and splurge. If you look at any of my interviews, I have always maintained that we need to repeat our clothes. What examples are we setting to impressionable minds that we have an unlimited supply of luxurious clothes, shoes and bags? They will then pester their parents for extra pocket money to splurge. I reuse all my clothes and accessories. In fact, since I still fit into my bell-bottoms from my college days and the fashion has returned, I use them even now. Reuse, recycle and reduce the wastage of cloth. I teach my daughter the same thing – don’t waste food. If you want eat, store it. If your clothes are not in fashion anymore, store them for use another time.
Do you see charity being the next cool in the world?
I hope it is that way. However, charity is not just about what you give but about staying quiet about what you do. It helps to not have a zealous PR who reports everything to the press. I never retweet when people thank me for what I have contributed. I just save the screen shots to show to my dad. I hope and wish that the most popular stars of the future will be those who helped in the pandemic.
You have a few projects on OTT? Tell us about it
I call myself a “retired housewife.” (Laughs) and have been blessed to be still getting roles. There are two of them currently and a few more in the pipeline. I have shot a cop drama with Parambrata Chatterjee and there is one with Akshay Khanna that is a corporate story. Then there is KGF 2 and a suspense thriller in Telugu. I have tried to maintain a balance between roles. Much like, I did a Bade Biyan Chhote Miyan to an Aks, a Ghulam Mustafa to a Shool.
Have you found it tough to say no?
No. I am not about political correctness. I am honest about things and back then when people asked me if I was dating someone, I would say yes, if I was. I walked out of a relationship at one point in my life and yes it hurts too since you have invested in it. But you have to get back on your feet and move on. When I see people losing themselves over a man or a woman, I feel bad. If someone is toxic, it is important to recognize that and walk away. A supportive family backing you, is always a boon. But you have to learn to value yourself. Like they say “Duniya Mai Aur Bhi Gham Hai Mohabbat ke siwa.” I have never gone to a temple to complain or bribe, I have always gone there to thank God for what I have and what I have been blessed with. I also teach my daughter to ignore nasty comments on social media. We need to focus on the good at all given points in time.
What about film production?
I am a disaster when it comes to that space. I did two movies Pehchaan and Stumped and ended up getting duped. Anil my husband is the producer. I am happy being the creative soul. In fact, I have written a story with Bani J, that has been with me for a while, that will be onscreen soon. I shall reveal details when the time is right. Around 1999- 2000, I remember discussing a story with Onir and he said it was too forward for its time. Now is the time to experiment with these things with OTT exploding into brilliant content.
You are working in South Indian cinema too?
There is no divide between the south and the north these days with talent migrating always. I acted in many south Indian films and I love to work there. I love the food, its people, its culture and the way they work. KGF – 2 is coming up, then I have a Telugu film with Anand Deverekonda, Vijay Deverekonda brother. In the past I have worked with Kamalahaasan jee in Abhay and with Venky in Taqdeerwala. Also, the Ghazi attack that starred Rana Daggubatti was our film.
The OTT series you have enjoyed watching?
From our Hindi web series stable, I watched Panchayat. It was a little slow initially and then I was hooked and am waiting for season 2. As for Family Man, I messaged Manoj and first apologized that I had watched it pretty late and then told him that I binged watched both seasons back to back! I told him that I have got a hangover now and need Season 3. He laughed so much! The boys who directed the series are really good. I watched Delhi Crime and then Criminal Justice and loved both of them.
So many of your songs have been remixed? How do you see them?
I love it. When each time a song of mine is remixed, be it Mast Mast, Sheher ki ladki or Tip Tip, there is a recall of the original. I like all versions of the songs since they are all tributes to the original. As for Andaz Apna Apna, I have heard that for the past 10 years they are planning a remake!
Do you miss the dancing when you do content heavy cinema?
“Reality shows mai dance hota hai na” (Reality shows have all the dancing you need). I have to literally tell them “Aur kitna nachaoge.” So, it is a good balance to do films that might not have dancing in them. But I have always enjoyed doing live shows. When you go to a huge stadium and the crowds are watching you perform, the euphoria is another level. The love that they pour out is instant and is a good high for any artiste. But I do not dance at weddings and I am careful about the ads I endorse. I believe, as stars, we have a moral responsibility to our pick and choose what we do.
What are your films that your children have liked?
I have made them watch Dulhe Raaja and Andaz Apna Apna. Rasha, my daughter though, loves watching Aalia’s films.
The late Divya Bharti and you were contemporaries. How did her demise affect you?
Divya and I did Kshatriya together and the entire unit lived in the same bungalow. She was a year or two younger than I was and I used to wake her up in the mornings during the shoot of Kshatriya. I was about to leave for the shoot of Aatish and in-between Laadla when she passed away. I told Kareem Morani that I wanted to see her and pay my respects and went to see her body in the morgue. It felt like she was sleeping. The attendant mentioned her by the tag number of her body and that is when I realised that this is what happens to all of us in the end. I knew Divya much before both of us entered movies. She was friends with my neighbour. An actress gone too soon. It was a life lesson for me.