IT’S TRUE that Ameesha Patel set foot in Bollywood with blockbuster hit Kaho Na Pyaar Hai in 2000, but it was her damsel-in-distress character of Sakeena Ali in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) that took her to an entirely new level of fame.
After a massive gap of 22 years, she returned to play the much-loved character in Gadar 2 and ended up winning audiences’ hearts once again. Sunny Deol reprised his role of iconic character Tara Singh, opposite the actress in one of the year’s biggest Bollywood blockbusters, netting over £50 million at the domestic box office alone.
Eastern Eye recently caught up with Ameesha Patel to discuss the colossal success of the film, which is now delighting audiences on streaming site ZEE5. She also spoke about her expectations from Gadar 3 if it ever gets made, the lack of industry support before the release of Gadar 2 and more.
How does it feel to be the leading lady of one of this year’s biggest blockbusters, Gadar 2?
Well, it feels overwhelming. I am thankful to god and the audiences. I had the same feeling with Kaho Na Pyaar Hai (2000) and then with Badri (2000) when it was released in Telugu. The next year, I was a part of the biggest cult hit Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. To receive the same kind of love for part two of a film that comes 22 years later only consolidates how much people actually loved the pairing of Tara and Sakeena. It feels really good and surreal. I am very thankful that people kept us in their hearts for so many years and gave us so much love and affection the second time around.
When did director Anil Sharma approach you for Gadar 2?
We were in talks for Gadar 2 two years before the pandemic. We were supposed to start the film in March 2020 and then the pandemic hit
So, everything was put on hold. We didn’t even know whether things would go ahead or not. Everything was unclear, but then things picked up and we announced the film. Things got reworked and as we say, the rest is history.
Many said that since the sequel Gadar 2 is coming after 22 years, it might not perform as well as its predecessor. But it proved everybody wrong. What would you say about that?
I was sure that it would be a hit, but not such a colossal hit. I was sure it would be loved and appreciated or at least it would get a particular number of sales because everyone was very curious about Tara and Sakeena. They have been very loved characters.
Do you believe that there is always a market for sequels to good films?
Sholay (1975), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Pakeezah (1972), Titanic (1997), and Pretty Woman (1990) have been such iconic cult hits that if a part two of these films comes, I will definitely go once to see it, whether it was good or bad. Because I have lived with these characters even though I was not born when a Sholay, Mughal-e-Azam or a Mother India (1957) was made. But if they were to make a part two, I would definitely go see it and then reserve my judgment whether I liked it or not.
What made you feel so confident that Gadar 2 would do well?
You know, there is a certain sure-shot audience who have loved Tara and Sakeena and lived with them for so long. I knew that curiosity, love, and loyalty would get a certain segment of audiences to see them again. If you make a sensible film, people will like it.
But it exceeded everyone’s expectations…
But the rage and craziness that Tara and Sakeena imbibed into everyone’s hearts and homes this time is really overwhelming and amazing. We never go in thinking we are going to make a flop or bad film, we always go in hoping to give our best and do our best. Having said that, box office is very unpredictable, so you never know.
A certain segment of the audience also complained that they wanted to see you and Sunny Deol more in Gadar 2…
Nail on the head, exactly about the audiences. This is the exact feedback that I have had from every single person who I know, and don’t know at a personal level, on Twitter (now X) and other social media platforms. Everybody’s feedback has only been that they wanted more of Tara and Sakeena definitely.
So, what were the reasons that Tara and Sakeena were not at the centre of the story?
You know, we could not make the same story again. It could not have been that Sakeena also goes to Pakistan, again.
We had to try something else and give the audience a different kind of story. But this is what the audience is saying that if the makers come out with a part three, then Tara and Sakeena have to be a lot more in it. I couldn’t agree with them more.
You had recently said that you would sign Gadar 3 only if there is more of Tara and Sakeena in the film…
Yes, if Gadar 3 is made and offered to me, then my first demand would be that Tara and Sakeena are given more screen time because the audiences cannot be disappointed yet again. Secondly, if you noticed, the director was very smart. He knew that Tara and Sakeena are such evergreen characters that they could never be inlaws. That’s why when he culminated the film, there was no acknowledgement ever of anybody being a daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law.
So, you don’t want to play a mother-in-law?
I know I will not play a mother-in-law for the next 15 years of my career for sure. Gadar is not a TV serial where people want to see a leap. Tara and Sakeena are their favourite iconic, evergreen characters that they don’t want to see as in-laws. They miss them and want to see them so much more in part three.
When other stars’ film release, there is backing from Bollywood, but when Gadar 2 was released hardly anyone from the industry supported it. They only tweeted after it became a blockbuster. What would you like to say about that?
It’s okay, I think. More than getting the industry support, you need the audience support. There is no point in audiences not supporting you but all of the industry tweeting for you and posting it for you on their social media platforms.
But did the lack of support from your fraternity bother you?
I don’t think Sunny Deol and I were bothered about the lack of support the first time around.
Definitely we weren’t bothered about it the second time around. Tara and Sakeena were tick-marked characters; our songs were tick-marked, and our trailer was tick-marked. What we really wanted was the audiences’ love to be tick-marked for us. That is the support that the actor craves the most.
Tell us more about that?
When the film did well, wishes poured in on public platforms from all, which is absolutely fine. I don’t hold anything against anyone. I like to support my film but that’s my personal thing. I want every film to do well. It’s our industry. We should be united. Everyone should do well and create more jobs and money in our industry. Make more films, create more entertainment but that’s me personally. I just feel we need to give good cinema to the audiences.
After setting theatres on fire, Gadar 2 is now entertaining worldwide audiences with ZEE5 Global. What would you like to say about that?
I think people who didn’t get a chance to go to the cinemas and watch the film, for whatever reasons, can now watch it on ZEE5 Global. I know so many people, at every juncture, from a security officer to a traffic signal attendant, from different walks of life, who were busy and couldn’t go to the cinemas to watch it.
So that’s the reason they are going in their throngs now to ZEE5 Global to watch it. It’s a great feeling.