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Interview with Milind Soman by Jeevi

Date: 22nd March 2002 Venue: Taj Krishna
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Sirivennela Seeta Rama Sastry (Lyric Writer)
D Suresh Babu (Producer)
Mahesh Babu (Hero)
Lisa Ray (Heroine)
Sravanthi Ravi Kishore (Producer)
RP Patnaik (Music Director)
Smita (Telugu pop singer)
Shyam (Producer)
Karunakaran (Director)
Sri (Music Director)
Gudipoodi Srihari(Film Critic)
SJ Surya(Director)
AM Ratnam(Producer)
Tammareddy Bharadwaja(Producer n Director)
Jayant C Paranji(Director)
Kodi Rama Krishna(Director)
Chakri (JD Chakravarthy)(Hero)
Ramana Gogula(Music Director)
Naga Babu(Producer n Actor)

Milind Soman was born in Scotland and lived in England for seven years before moving to India. He is a Maharastrian brahmin, who began his career as an Electrical Engineer. His big break came, when he was offered a modeling assignment. A shirt ad -Thackersay's Fabrics and Rs.50, 000 later, he was the most wanted man in town (in more ways than one). He is perhaps the first male supermodel from India. met up with Milind in Taj Krishna on 22nd March for an exclusive interview on the eve of the release of his latest film '16 December'. Here are the excerpts ........


Is '16 December' your first feature film?

This is my second feature film. Earlier I did a film called 'Tarkieb'. It was two years ago. Since then I have done six films. This is first of those six that is going to be released. All the six films are ready for the release. Depending on when the producer feel that this is the right time they will release these films.

How different is acting from modeling?

It's as different as Rice and Chapati. Both are totally different.

How do you like acting compared to modeling?

I enjoy acting. It's completely challenging. Once you become to understand what it is all about, the greatest challenge is to create a character. And creating a character that is so definite and so strong, once audience watch it on the screen they forget whom the actor is performing the role. And if you can do that, it would be an achievement for any actor.

How different are the films you are doing compared to the mainstream cinema that is released now a days?

I don't know what the mainstream cinema is. If you say the mainstream cinema is the mindless film, then its very different. Films I am doing are commercial. Commercial in the sense that people would enjoy watching these films. Its not that we have some masala put from here and there. My films have very good story. They have very good characters. There are very interesting situations. And the presentation (how the film is narrated) is very exciting. And to me if all these ingredients are present, then that film is completely commercial.

But what we have an idea of commercial film is that you put a song there and fight here without having any story. That's what the most of the producers thinks so. Thankfully, the audiences are proving them wrong. That's why new filmmakers are coming up. New stories are coming up. The whole film industry is changing. We have a bright future for Indian cinema.

Are there any songs in 16 December?

There is only one lip-sink song and the rest of the songs are there in the background, which are used to enhance the situation. For example, there is an investigation montage. So the theme song is playing in the background. There is a love song, also to enhance the mood by showing the feelings of the girl, when her lover is following another woman. Like most of the Hollywood films, there are 8 to 10 songs in the background. But we don't realize it. In our film also we have that kind of soundtrack.

So you don't run around trees?

No running around trees at all! In fact, in all the seven films done by me so far I have not run around any trees. None of my directors asked me to do that.

The girls form modeling field have better chances of entering into films compared to guys. Why is it so?

I think, there is not much pressure on women. If you see Indian films, most of the stories are about heroes. Of course, there is no story. Basically, it's a promotional exercise for hero. In the last 10 - 15 years, they are only trying to promote hero, because they think the audience want to watch the hero singing and dancing. So, going by that mindset all the pressure for the film to be successful comes on the hero. The heroine is only there to dance, sing and cry. Those roles are very simple. And there is no responsibility that a heroine has to shoulder. Hence the producers are willing to take models as heroine. But they are not willing to take any risk of casting model as a hero.

Even then, there are lots of male model-turned actors are doing well. Arjun Rampal is doing well. Rahul Dev has won awards. Doni Morea is also doing well.

You have lots of exposure as a model through ads and music video albums. When audience comes to the theater they know Milind Soman by face. What precautions you take to make sure that you super model image does not overshadow the character you are playing.

I have, in fact, thought about that a lot. Right from Tarkieb, in the all films I have done so far I have completely non-glamorous roles. I am a not a person from media. I am not famous. I am not westernized. Like in this film I am playing an undercover agent who is working as a private detective in Bombay. I have a beard and I am not clean-shaven. I don't look like model. May be I look good. But I make sure that my roles have no sophistication. I am doing another film titled 'Agni Varsha', which is a mythological film (pre Maha Bharat). I am playing a young Brahmin boy wearing a Dhoti in that film. Obviously, I look different there. I am also doing a film called 'Bhagmati', in which I am playing a research student in a college along with Tabu. And half the film is historical, which is completely animated. For the first time in India, there is one and half-hour of animation in a film, which is done completely in India. So, I am doing different characters with different outlook. My looks are completely different from film to film from my hair to how my body looks and my expressions. So I have taken care of that. I don't think the viewers would not get disappointed at all.

Do you call yourself as a Bollywood hero?

No. Not really! I want to play characters weather it's a negative character, positive character or a side character.

What are your predictions about the future of Bollywood?

Like I said you earlier, the future looks bright! The audience is becoming more aware. They are demanding to see good stories and good scripts. Not just the hero dancing around and flexing his muscles. With the kind of new films coming up now, the audience is welcoming the pleasant change. There is a film called 'Raaz' with new star cast did extremely well at box office. People are shocked at how well the film is doing. Even the film '16 December' is just released. People are calling from all over India and telling me how well the film is doing. It has no big star cast. Its just a beautiful story interestingly told. And that's what counts.

Do you dub your voice or any dubbing artist does it for you?

Yes. I dub my voice myself. I also sung a song for '16 December', in case if you are worried about my voice. It's there in the album. We made a promotional video for the film. That song actually talks about the film. Why we have terrorism? Why can't our country relationships be good with other countries? Why are we searching for peace? That song put some thoughts like this into the listeners. It's playing on TV now. I don't know if you have seen it.

I have seen it. But did not observe any thing abnormal in the voice.

Oh. I think that's a good compliment!

What is your favorite pastime?

Hmm. I am busy all the times by doing things I enjoy

Ok. Tell me what you do when you are not acting and modeling?

I like to trek. I like to go outdoors a lot. I don't like to live in the city. If I don't have time to go outdoors, then I sit at home and read and listen to music.

What kind of books do you read?

I love to read fiction books. My favorite book is 'Human Bondage' by Somerset Maugham. And my other favorite book is 'The lord of the rings', which was made into a movie recently. I like science fiction also. Agatha Christy is my favorite author.

What are the good films watched by you in the past two years?

There is one good Hindi film called 'Lagaan', which I liked a lot. There is another very good film I saw '16 December' (grins). Among the Hollywood films are The Others (Nicole Kidman) and 'The Lord of the Rings'.

What do you think are the chances of 'Lagaan' winning an Oscar?

Its pretty difficult to say, because the films which are pitted against it 'Amelie' and 'No man's land' are very beautiful films. I have seen both of them. Lagaan is also an extraordinary film. I think chances are even.

Interviewed by Jeevi
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