Why did Rati Agnihotri agree to be a part of Shaukeen’s remake?

Tanuj Virwani’s mom used to be a sexy siren in her haydays

Remember Rati Agnihotri emerging out of the sea in a sexy yellow swimsuit in Basu Chatterjee’s Shaukeen (1982)? Now the actor returns with a special role in the remake. The new Shaukeen stars Akshay Kumar in Mithun Chakraborty’s role and and Lisa Haydon in Rati’s role.

Talking about her role in the Shaukeen remake, the heroine says, “The director and producer came to me with the narration and were shocked when I said yes without hesitation. It’s not about the role but my own special connection with the film. Each actor has their own special list of films and Shaukeen figures on the list of my own personal special films. I didn’t even ask about the role. In fact, I didn’t even know if it was just a walk-in part in the background,” she laughs. “I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it! If they had offered me one shot also I would have done it.”

Rati says she’s happy that Lisa Haydon is playing her role in the remake. “I have done a lot of body of work and every film has it’s time and place and every actor has their own interpretations of their roles. Lisa looks sexy and I’m sure she will do justice to my role. I don’t think it’s fair to compare one actor to another.” The heroine was considered a sex symbol of her time, like Lisa is today. She smiles, “Yes, I guess when I wore those white shorts people thought I looked sexy. We shot that scene 35 years ago. It was great fun working with such stalwarts (Ashok Kumar, Utpal Dutt and A K Hangal). It’s so nice that they have retained the title. Basu da was not just brilliant as a director but such a jolly guy to work with. I was so simple and innocent. Even then I hadn’t heard the story. I was working 18 hours, back-to-back so I heard the gist and green-lighted the project.”

Rati says she has some happy memories of Shaukeen which she will always remember. “I was dating my husband at the time and only my sister-in-law and a couple of friends knew about our relationship.” About the famous swimsuit scene, she says, “Dad was very irritated that Basu da insisted I wear it. It was not common to be wearing a swimsuit then. But I was a state level swimming champion and I was comfortable with wearing one. But with dad it became a big issue. We were shooting at Ruia Park on the sands. It was a canary yellow, nylon swimsuit and quite voluminous in shape. I changed into it and started shooting. Dad happened to drop by and was shocked to see me in a swimsuit. Initially he was like no way is Rati wearing it but then he and Basu da started arguing and shooting was held up. Basu da said I couldn’t be shown coming out of the water in a sari! Finally, dad saw logic and we shot in the scene.”

Coming to the remake, she adds, “After 14 years, I met the DOP of the Shaukeen remake, Madhu Ambat, with whom I had worked. At that time he was an assistant to the DOP on two of the films I was working in. So yes, there are so many connects to Shaukeen. Our Shakeen had its own place. It will be good if the new one will outdo the original. It has so much energy!”