"Akshay tolerated Rekha because of the film. At one point she wanted to get lunch dabbas for him from home. That's when I put my foot down. I felt it was taking things a bit too far. She's a wonderful person, but she should learn where to draw the line."
(Rediff, June 1997)

Her romance with Akshay Kumar sparked rumors of a secret marriage and sent producers scrambling to replace her. When he broke it off, they said her career was over. But after receiving 2001's prestigious National Film Award, Raveena is back with a vengeance -- and several targets to aim it at.

Raveena Tandon  Her portrayal of a victim of domestic violence in 2001's Daman shot her back into the Bollywood radar like a comet on fire. But for a woman with her history, it was perhaps inevitable that scandal would follow her return. The announcement of her National Film Award provoked three members of the jury to quit on charges of corruption amongst their peers. According to them, Raveena, who in the past has campaigned for the BJP, received the award as a result of favoritism on the part of prominent jurors affiliated with the political party. Director Pradeep Krishan explained, ""My conscience could not not allow me to continue... I was naive enough not to know the connections of some of the jury members." (Rediff, Mar. 2001)

   Naturally, even after the scandal has died, Raveena remains irked. "My conscience was clear. That man [Pradeep Kishen] apologised to me in public. First he lied through his teeth. And then he said: 'Sorry I was misinformed by the media.' That was his excuse! ...I may forgive, but I will never forget. It was good of him to apologize, but for an entire week the man questioned my integrity in front of the whole nation. Who the hell was he to do that? It still makes me very angry that the biggest high of my career, my special moment was tarnished by one stupid man." (G Magazine)

  Though one of the most beautiful women in Bollywood, Raveena was not always considered as such. She explains in a June 1997 interview with Rediff: "Till my first year of college I was a very complex, insecure person. I was fat and ugly. In school I was disgustingly obese. I used to be the butt of ridicule and that made me withdraw into a shell. It made me miserable, unsure of myself. I was far from confident."

      Q: How did it change?
      R: Well, I had this major crush on a guy in college. He was one of my brother's friends. One day he walked into the house, pulled my pigtails and said moti [fat]. My world came crashing down. I swore to myself that come what may, I'd have that man at my feet. And that was the day I started losing weight.       
        Throughout school I've faced ridicule and been complexed about my appearance. I almost turned into a nervous wreck. Peer pressure is bad. Children can be really cruel. Specially if you're not like everyone else. I still remember the way children used to tease me. Fat people are really lonely people. In school girls would be my friends but guys would generally keep away. A lot of insecurity stems from there. But if you have a strong base nothing can shake you.
        When I came into the industry, I was still very complexed. I was very broad shouldered, I remember, and not open to jokes. Because I was so conscious of myself. In fact, sometimes when Salman [Khan] would joke with me, I would misunderstand him. So initially I started withdrawing into a shell. This was misunderstood and everyone thought I was too arrogant. It wasn't so, I was just insecure about myself. I wanted to scream, 'I'm not like that.'
         I'm a friendly person but I'm conscious if people may fun of me. Then I went through this phase of this one particular heroine making fun of me. Then being dropped out of movies and my war with a certain co-star. I was majorly misunderstood. I went into a deeper shell. However I handled it. I surfaced. I'm a survivor.

  The "certain co-star" she refers to is none other than Ajay Devgan. Their ongoing feud was a very public affair in the mid nineties, and Devgan's then-girlfriend, Karisma Kapoor, also got involved. In the same interview, Raveena says, 

       R: I have seen actors manipulate and reach where they are today. I won't name the heroine, but because she was insecure she had me removed from four films. As a matter of fact, I was to do one of the films with her. She was closer to the producer and the hero apparently. So these things do happen, but I'm not into playing these sort of games.

       Q: If the producer was friendly to her, he should have signed her in the first place.
       R:  No, no, they signed her also. There were two of us in the film. Arre kissika koi boyfriend hua [Hey, this someone had some boyfriend] [i.e., Ajay Devgan], and he puts down the condition that if you work with so and so, you never speak to me again... Never see me again...

       Q:  Why didn't you speak out and expose the heroine?
       R: Because I'm not made that way. If someone is brash and impulsive, and so desperate, what can one do? I believe in nature's justice. What comes around goes around. I'm also here, she's also here, time will tell as to who did what and who did not. I know good always wins, life has shown me that. You do lose faith when you're down and out but then reality strikes and you see what's happening to the other person... Ultimately, the mask does fall, and the person gets exposed.

       Q:  You might not want to name her, but everyone knows that the heroine in question is Karishma Kapoor. It's no secret that there's no love lost between you two. Recently at Shah Rukh Khan's Holi bash when photographers asked you and Urmila to pose with Karishma, you'd agreed heartily but when they asked her she flatly refused.
    
  R: It doesn't make me a superstar if I pose with a Karishma Kapoor today. She doesn't feature in my life in any which way. I'm a professional, I don't care. I would pose with a broomstick if need be. I'm only bothered with my work. What happens personally doesn't and shouldn't affect a professional relationship. Life is too short to have these petty squabbles. I don't want to waste my time thinking about such things. Everybody has hassles but one should try and resolve them. If things can be resolved without any tension life would be so much more easier. Why have problems, why?
        Karishma and I are not the best of friends. Ditto with Ajay. We've patched up and we're not at war. Till date I haven't abused them. Because their lives don't affect me in the least. Professionally I'm ready to work with Ajay or Karishma. Where work is concerned I don't bother about these stupid ego problems.

       Q: If that is so, you shouldn't have a problem working with Rekha too. But you were quite cheesed off when she stole the show from right under your nose in Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi. In fact rumours of Rekha and Akshay's alleged affair also soured things.
       R: I don't want to say too much on the subject. I don't think Akshay ever had anything to do with Rekha. As a matter of fact, he would run away from her. Akshay tolerated Rekha because of the film. At one point she wanted to get lunch dabbas for him from home. That's when I put my foot down. I felt it was taking things a bit too far. She's a wonderful person, but she should learn where to draw the line.

     Q: Your long-standing enmity with Ajay Devgun doesn't look like getting resolved. Both of you take potshots at each other at every given opportunity. Even though you are willing, Ajay still maintains that he doesn't want to work with you.
     R: I don't have a problem with Ajay because he is not so important in my life. I don't even think about it. I'm too content with my life. Probably he is unhappy to yet talk about me this way. I'm significant in his life somewhere that he yet holds a grudge. It doesn't make any difference to me. I can work with anybody.

   Now, with a National Award under her belt and a few years' breathing space, she looks back on the mid-nineties with the wry amusement of a survivor. "Ajay Devgan and I had a print war that was unbelievable. Today when I look back I feel we both needed to grow up. We were fighting in print like two children in kindergarten. Fortunately we've grown up a lot since then. We're even doing a film together. I have no problems whatsoever with Ajay. He's a cool guy." (cinemaa.indyaa.com)

    Her problem with Govinda has also been resolved: "I adore him. There was a time when I was really upset with him. This was during Saajan Chale Sasural. I was supposed to do Tabu's role but I didn't eventually do it because of the other heroine in the film [Karisma Kapoor] who played dirty. She had a problem with me and I was out of that film before I knew it. I took it very personally, I was sulking for quite some time with Chi Chi. But he's the kind of person you can't be upset with for long."

    And as for Akshay: "Raju [Akshay's real name is Rajiv] and I will always be friends. Sometime back I was furious with him, when he had made that statement in an interview: 'I never asked Raveena to quit films'. Now that was a big lie. Everybody knows I was sitting pretty at home with nothing to do for like two years because I was all set to live happily ever after with Akshay. Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way it should have. 
   "Now when I think about it, may be it would've been better if we had remained friends instead of getting engaged. But I guess what had to happen, happened. You can't turn back the clock. But I only wish Akshay had not made those stupid statements like: 'Oh I was never responsible for Raveena quitting films'. Hello, who in their right mind would leave a promising career and sit at home unless there were other plans in the offing? In my case, I was all set to settle down with Raju. I was livid so I blasted him back in print. Now of course, we have sorted out the problem." (cinemaa.indyaa.com)

  Happily for her fans, Raveena is back on track, indeed. Though we have yet to hear of a reconciliation with Karisma...


Raveena Tandon
born: October 26, 1971
height: 5' 6"

FILMS

1992 Jeena Marna Tere Sang
1992 Kshatriya
1992 Parampara
1993 Aatish
1993 Divya Shakti
1993 Pehla Nasha
1994 Andaz Apna Apna*
1994 Dilwale*
1994 Laadla*
1994 Main Khiladi Tu Anari
1994 Mohra*
1995 Imtihaan
1995 Saajan Ki Bahoon Mein
1995 Taqdeerwala
1995 Vijeta
1995 Zamaana Deewana
1996 Ek Anari Do Khiladi
1996 Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi
1996 Mera Hindustan
1996 Rakshak
1997 Daava
1997 Ghulam-E-Mustafa
1997 Ziddi*
1998 Abhiyaan
1998 Aunty No. 1
1998 Baazu
1998 Bade Miya Chote Miyan
1998 Barood
1998 Bulundi
1998 Dus
1998 Gharwali Baharwali
1998 Jai Hind
1998 Keemat
1998 Salaakhen
1998 Vidroh
1998 Vinashak
2000 Bulandi
2000 Jung
2000 Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye
2000 Officer
2000 Shool*
2001 Abhay
2001 Aks
2001 Daman*
2002 Agni Varsha
2002 Soch
2003 LOC: Kargil
2003 Pran Jaaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye
2003 Qayamat
2003 Sandhya
2003 Satta*
2004 Aan - Men At Work
2004 Dobara

* acclaimed performance


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