And to make Kareena"s job manageable and easily accessible, Madhur has prepared a 3-hour documentary on the quartet of Hollywood greats. But, where on earth are the female legends of the Indian cinema?
Nowhere! Woefully, Madhur informs that he couldn"t get ample or even scant visual material on the Hindi-Indian screen classical beauties to put into the documentary that he has put together for Kareena"s ready reference. (If only all our directors were just as helpful we"d have more researched bio-pics).
Laments Madhur, “When I set out to put together a documentary chronicling the lives of the screen legends, I was also simultaneously enhancing my own knowledge of them to make Kareena"s character of Mahi Khanna more rounded, complete and contemporary."
In fact, Madhur has just returned from a trip to Singapore, where he discovered loads of invaluable footage on Hollywood greats.
Says Madhur excitedly, “For example, take Vivien Leigh. Her stormy relationship with Sir Laurence Olivier is so eventful dramatic, passionate and romantic. Unfortunately, there"s no valid and substantial footage on Madhubala or Meena Kumari revealing their relationship with Kishore Kumar and Kamal Amrohi, respectively."
Madhur is appalled to note the lack of visual or even written records on our screen legends. He says, “When a director wants to make a film about an Indian actor or about our movie industry, where does he look for references? On the other hand, there"s no dearth of material written and filmed, on Hollywood"s icons."
For the want of a choice, Madhur"s 3-hour documentary portrays only Hollywood legends.
Says the director anxiously, “I do want Kareena to refer back to our great actresses like Madhubala, Nargis and Nutan (I think Kareena has elements of Nutan"s personality). But, I can only brief her verbally on our screen legends. It"s really sad."
However, the sadder fact is that the contemporary actresses have hardly watched the films of the legends, so they have no ready references in their psyche either.
Kareena, who"s shooting with Shahrukh Khan for Ra.1, will be able to watch Madhur"s 3-hour documentary only when she"s free in September-October.
Madhur adds, “She"s shooting for Ra.1 and Golmaal 3. Once she"s done, she will watch the documentary repeatedly. I"ve chosen footage that represents Eva Gardner, Liz Taylor and others most tellingly. Her character Mahi Khanna is an actress of today, not of yesteryears."
The shooting of Heroine has been pushed to December, so that Kareena would"ve time to study the 3-hour documentary carefully.
Madhur rules out that he is doing rehearsals and workshops to prepare Kareena for her biggest challenge. The only director who managed to get Kareena on the rehearsal route was Sudhir Mishra for her streetwalker"s role in Chameli.
No one else would be able to extract the same concentrated energy from Kareena today. Not even Mishra.