Look who is having a ball! Urmila Matondkar, known to be reserved on most occasions, really and truly let her
hair down in Amsterdam when she was there for the IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) awards function
"I really and truly partied hard," gushes the beautiful actress. "There isn't really an opportunity to do so here in Mumbai where dozens of eyes follow you to the dance floor and back.
"In Amsterdam, (designer) Manish Malhotra, Alan Amin (my Raakhi brother), his wife and I made a cool foursome. We just painted the party spots R-E-D."
The newly rejuvenated Urmila was dying for a break. "I have been shooting non-stop for my two back-to-back films. First I shot during the whole of March for Pankaj Parasher's film 'Ek Dhun Baneras Ki..'.
"Then I came straight back to Mumbai to do 'Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara'.
"Ek Dhun..." and "Maine Gandhi..." sound like titles of Saeed Mirza's films!"
Urmila laughs hard. She sure enjoys her jokes.
"I wish I could do a comedy after these serious films. But comedy for a female actor in our country is not easy. Geeta Bali and Madhubala were great at it because they got the material to work on.
"Where are the comedy writers who will not make me say or do vulgar things in the name of comedy?
"Hema Malini did it so wonderfully in 'Seeta Aur Geeta'. And Sridevi had some truly amazing comic scenes in 'Mr. India'. Give me stuff like that and I am game for the giggles."
She has just had a very grim release "Naina", which has done well at the box office.
"It was a very taxing role. It is easy enough playing a blind character. But to play a girl who recovers her eyesight is the hardest thing I have done as an actress.
"I did not want to make it look like a caricature or overdone. At this stage of my career I need to explore as many facets of me as an actor as possible."
Urmila is all set for the release of "Maine Gandhi...".
"We are releasing it on Oct 2 (Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary) for very obvious reasons. Yashraj Films has taken over the distribution. So the film is ensured optimum exposure. I like that.
"It is so frustrating to put in all of yourself into a performance that no one watches."
In "Maine Gandhi..." Urmila gets to work with critically acclaimed Assamese director Jahnu Barua.
"This is his first Hindi film, and he is absolutely brilliant. At first I was not too sure about the script since it sounded so different. But my producer was Anupam Kher. And I can never say no to him," she smiles.
"Anupam had directed me in 'Om Jai Jagdish'. Since then we are friends. I am so happy I did 'Maine Gandhi...'. The father-daughter equation in the script is going to be unlike anything seen in our films."
Kher plays her father. Preview audiences are raving about Urmila's performance. But she shrugs off the compliments.
"Kya farq padta hai? (How does it matter?) I don't work for awards. In the past I have been nominated for 'Bhoot' and 'Ek Hasina Thi'. Beyond that, I have no hopes."
The other interesting film that Urmila has wrapped up is Pankaj Parasher's "Ek Dhun Benaras Ki", a magical journey into the spiritual world.
"There are so many interesting actors in this film, including Dimple Kapadia, with whom I had bonded beautifully during 'Hum Tumpe Marte Hain'. During the month that we spent in Varanasi, Dimple and I were inseparable.
"We went shopping together, chatted between shots. Who says two actresses cannot be friends? Earlier I had a grand time shooting with Shabana Azmi during 'Tehzeeb'. Now we are really close friends. We had a whale of a time at the IIFA awards."
Having completed two back-to-back projects Urmila now has the time to read scripts and catch up with her family.
Next month she has been officially invited by the city of San Francisco. "And I plan to take my family along. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time with them."
And marriage? "There is no one that I would like to marry. I will just get the wedding cards printed and let my family and friends fill any name they like for the bridegroom."