A little over a decade ago, Lara Dutta trounced Priyanka Chopra to win the Miss India pageant. She then went on to bag the Miss Universe title while Priyanka snagged the Miss World crown. The two beauty queens debuted together in Suneel Darshan’s Andaz two years later. And now, they’re working together in Farhan Akhtar’s Don 2 – The Chase Continues that opens this Christmas.
While Priyanka returns as the original heroine in the sequel, Lara, we’re told, is only doing a glamorous cameo. But there are no complaints. "I’m happy, and I’m not competing with anyone," she asserts. "Sure, Priyanka figures prominently in the film which is understandable since she’s the female lead. But when I look back at the work I’ve done, I’m proud to say that I’m a part of this Don. Farhan’s direction, my character’s look and what I’m doing in the film is all very interesting."
Her look in the film is a closely guarded secret. No stolen pictures online but there’s a strong buzz that she shaved her head for the role, a la Persis Khambatta. "Bald? Me? Had that been the case, I would have been sporting short hair," she points out. "You’ll have to wait till the film’s promotions start to get an idea of what my character is all about."
For now, it’s Challo Dilli, her maiden production venture, made in association with husband Mahesh Bhupathi’s Big Daddy Productions and Eros Entertainment. "I had given the script to Mahesh and he was talking to Eros about some other project. The Lullas mentioned meeting Shashant (director Shashant Shah) and told Mahesh that if he and I jumped on board, they’d back the film," she recalls.
While she admits that Chalo Dilli wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Mahesh’s company, Lara insists that it’s not necessary that they will collaborate on future productions. And when will we get to see the tennis player fire an ace on screen? Lara laughs, “Well, I couldn’t convince Mahesh to act but if anyone can, then good luck to him.”