“During Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali used to show me 20-30 sarees and say, ‘Pick the ones you like’ “- Smita Jaykar | Hindi Movie News – Times of India

Smita Jaykar, who starred in the 1999 musical drama Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam starring Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn, talks to us about her role, her experience working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and more. The movie completes 25 years this month…

How did you get the role in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam?
Back then, I was doing a TV serial called Ghutan.Sanjay Ji’s mother used to watch that serial. They were casting for Aishwarya’s mom then, which I was not even aware of. She told Sanjay Bhansali to cast me. That’s how they contacted me. His film Khamoshi was released and flopped. I questioned myself, “Who am I to judge this director because his first film was a flop?” Because I had only done Sarfarosh back then. It was not fair on my part. Also, I was not in a position where I could choose to do a film or not. So, I met Sanjay ji and that’s how the film came to me.

How was it working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali?
He’s something else. I feel he’s an avatar of filmmaking. I don’t think anybody has been able to supersede him as yet.
As far as I’m concerned, he was excellent. This was the first film, to date, (and Devdas), where character artists were also given equal importance as the main cast. I would like to mention this. I was called once to his office, and there were about 20-30 sarees hanging. And he said, “Choose the colours you like”. Nobody has given me that much importance ever. I didn’t have any specifications about colours but I still selected some sarees which I liked. Then he said, “Now your opening scene, which saree do you think would you wear?” Then in Devdas he asked, “In the confrontation scene Kirron Kher is wearing this sari. What are you going to wear? Because you’re a Thakurayan”. All the saris and jewellery were meticulously decided before the shooting started.
Another amazing thing that I was shocked by was when we were doing the kite song – Dheel De. It was a day shift. We used to be called on the set at seven o’clock ready. We used to go ready, of course, because it was only in daylight. After four o’clock, we would lose light. So, I went up on the stage. He said, “Okay, come here, Smita”. He looked at me for a while and then said, “Today your hairstyle, the height of your backcombing, whatever, is a little more. Your blush is a little more, your lipstick is changed.” Even I didn’t even realize it. So, he called my hairdresser and makeup man and asked to fix it. When a director takes so much interest in your character you feel nice and you start taking more interest in your character. That’s why his films look impeccable.
Take us through some anecdotes of Devdas (she played Shah Rukh Khan’s mother in the film)
The first scene of Devdas is a 12-minute long shot where Shah Rukh exposes the characters and the entire Haveli. It’s a hand-held camera. You know what Sanjay did? He called us on the set. He said, “Don’t change, don’t do make-up, just come here first”. He made us rehearse that shot in the full shift from 9 am to 6 pm. Then he said, “Just go up to sleep, rest, relax. Some light scene was taken up, which we did and we packed up. He said, “Tomorrow morning, we’ll do one or two rehearsals. Then we take the shot.” The shot was done in two takes.
How was it working with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan?
At that time, Aishwarya was not ‘The Aishwarya Rai’. She looked like an angel, because of the chemistry she shared with Salman Khan in Hum Dil… It worked very well for the film.
What about Salman Khan?
I remember the first day of the shoot of the film. We were shooting the scene where Salman comes to the Haveli for the first time and he gets drenched in water and all. And I ask him, “Chal ke aaye ya tair ke?” He tells me, “Aunty, you’re the most beautiful woman I have seen.” I say, “Haan main jaanti hoon.” I asked Sanjay, “How can I say this? Should I say thank you or something like that?” He said, “No, say main jaanti hoon.” I didn’t want to argue. So I said it the way it was to be said. The next dialogue was something to the effect of I hear this every day from my husband. People still remember that line, “Main jaanti hoon.”

The most memorable scene from Hum Dil…
The jhula (swing) scene where Aishwarya says, “Uss ne meri aatma ko chhua hai Maa.” And both of us are on our own tracks. After pack-up, Sanjay told Aish and I to stay back because he wanted to work on another scene. He told us the choreography of the scene. He asked us if we were uncomfortable with any dialogue. We told him whatever we felt. Then he told us how he would choreograph the scene. He choreographs his scenes so beautifully. He has a great understanding of music and sur. He is a very good singer, and the whole film is in his control. The soul that he puts into his work is visible in his films.

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