The actress has now spoken to Digital Spy about her experience of working with Ajay Devgn and Sajid Khan, recreating Sridevi's iconic songs, and why she'll never kiss on screen.
How would you describe the overall experience of working on Himmatwala with Sajid Khan and Ajay Devgn?
"For me the whole combination itself sounds very exciting. I've been working in South Indian films for ten years and what I've understood is that films are teamwork. You need a good team to make a good film and here we have a blockbuster director in Sajid Khan, who has been so consistent at the box office, and Ajay Devgn. He's been there for two decades in the film industry. He has gone from strength to strength, apart from being the brilliant actor that he is and a well known superstar of the industry. And more than that he's a very fine human being and that's a rare combination. To have these two people in the film means a lot to me. Both have been committed to the film and made the film from the perspective of the audience."
It's a remake of the 1983 Jeetendra /Sridevi starrer. How close is the film to the original?
"Even though it's a remake tag to the film, changes in the story and screenplay have been made. What impressed me a lot was everything was very well planned and Sajid has a fantastic directional team. Everything was punctual and on schedule. The planning and the homework that went into making the movie has been amazing and it's been a fine experience of making our Himmatwala. Here, the films are made to entertain the audiences, and while it takes a sneak peek at the '80s era, it in no way spoofs the era. It's just a rewrite of Himmatwala."
What was it like to recreate the iconic Sridevi songs 'Naino Mein Sapna' and 'Taki O Taki' from the original film and how did you make these your own?
"Fortunately I had Farah Khan choreographing these songs. She always makes sure she understands the actors she's working with and she plans the steps accordingly and I always think whichever songs she has choreographed, the actor's best has come out in those songs. I'm very lucky to have worked with a choreographer who has achieved so much and her work shows the ace director that she is for the Indian film industry."
Sajid Khan has described you as the next Sridevi. How do you feel about the inevitable comparisons that will be made?
"I am always very touched by the conviction that he has in me as an artist. Why he chose to have me on board when he hasn't even seen any work of mine and even now he hasn't actually seen any South Indian films of mine. It was only a photograph that he had seen of me and after the brief meeting we had had for 15 minutes that he made up his mind. So obviously this man has a lot of conviction and if he believes in something he just believes it. So that really makes me respect him a lot."
You're a very established and hugely successful star in South India. Was it always your intention to move into Hindi cinema?
"For me it's not about which language I am acting in. I always wanted to be an actor and I wanted to be a part of good movies. Wherever I get to do these two things it's enough for me. But I'm glad. The viewership of Hindi films is obviously much more in terms of the numbers of people who watch the films. So definitely it's a much bigger platform. It's nice to be part of a film that will be watched by a large audience. Language has never been the criteria - it's about being an actor. I always just wanted to be an actor."
What kind of roles and films would you like to work on in the future and will you stick to your no-kissing rule?
"What's very important for me is that I want family audiences - all kinds of audiences - to watch my films, and the more people who watch the movies the better. So I want to be part of popular cinema. Eventually we are making movies for the audience, so if I am an actor I want the people to watch the kinds of films I do. I feel that is the kind of cinema I want to do. The kissing rule remains. I have stuck to this particular ground in South Indian films and I'm going to stick to it in Hindi films."
How do you respond to suggestions that women are merely an accessory in films?
"I've always believed that whatever is the part of a hero's role in a film, a heroine has to play the part of a heroine in a film. A hero cannot come and do what the heroine has to do. It doesn't matter about the length of the role. I don't do films for the number of scenes. I go for the quality of my character in the film and the impact that I will have. So for me that has been crucial and fortunately I have been very lucky to have worked with the right people. Sajid has directed me beautifully in the film and in whatever promos have gone on air. I am very happy with the kind of work that I have had in South Indian films and today in Hindi films and I am very satisfied with the offers that I am getting. There are a lot of heroine-orientated films in Hindi cinema, so there's a nice balance that is happening today in the industry."
Sajid Khan has said that he will give people their money back if they don't clap on Ajay Devgan's entry. Can you tell us why, and is Sajid Khan's money safe?
"Ajay's entry is going to be very dramatic in the film. The kinds of films made in the '80s were very melodramatic and larger than life. We all want to see our heroes on screen. That glorification has been a part of the cinema of the '80s. That trend for the glorification of the hero is coming again in Hindi films and people are appreciating it and enjoying that now. I'm sure Sajid has nothing to worry about. I'm very excited and hoping for the best. I have given my best for the film and I hope people enjoy it. I hope audiences are entertained."
Himmatwala releases on Friday, March 29.