Ileana D'Cruz is an actress who established herself in Telugu cinema for a good six years before making her Bollywood debut.
Born in Mumbai to a Christian family, Ileana spent about seven years in Goa, when she was spotted by a hotel manager, who recommended that her mother sign her up for modeling. Although, her first portfolio and meeting was a disaster, this model-turned-actress managed a long way since her debut Devadasu (2006).
Ileana was originally called for an audition for the Telugu film Teja, however, the film was cancelled and the actress ended up debuting in the role of Bhanumathi Katamraju in Devadasu and earned praise from critics for her performance as well as her figure. IndiaGlitz noted that she "has chiseled features and a figure to die-for."
She even won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debutant and the film too was a commercial success.
After Devadasu, Ileana next appeared opposite Mahesh Babu in the gangster film Pokiri (2006), in which she played an aerobics teacher. The film was a huge financial success, emerging as the highest-grossing Telugu film at the time. This was also the film Salman Khan's comeback hit Wanted was based on.
The same year, Ileana made her Tamil debut as well with the film Kedi. Later, she even acted in the film Khatarnak opposite Southern star Ravi Teja, although neither of the two films were hits.
In 2007, Ileana acted opposite Siddharth in Aata and then was seen in the 2008 film Jalsa opposite Pawan Kalyan and her performance in both these films was received well by critics. In fact, IndiaGlitz called her "every bit chic and stunning throughout the film". She subsequently won the South Scope Style Award and even won a nomination for the Best Actress prize at the 56th Filmfare Awards South for her performance in Jalsa.
In 2009, Ileana starred in a film titled Kick, opposite Ravi Teja for the second time. This film too, was declared a box office hit and went on to become one of the highest-grossing films that year. Incidentally, like Pokiri, this film also inspired a Salman Khan-starrer remake by the same name, which will be directed by Sajid Nadiadwala. The same year, Ileana even starred in the Tamil remake of Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots, in which she essayed Kareena Kapoor's role from the original.
2011 saw Ileana star in a socio-fantasy film called Shakti, which was the costliest Telugu film ever made at Rs 450,000,000. This was also the year; Oneindia reported that Ileana was the highest paid South Indian actress, with a fee of Rs 1.25 crore.
Ileana's most successful year perhaps was 2012, when she not only starred in her biggest Telugu hit film but also made her Bollywood debut. Her Telugu film Julai, in which she starred opposite Allu Arjun, opened to positive reviews and went on to become a commercial hit as well.
Ileana's Hindi film debut in Barfi! was an impactful one. Despite being the least known celeb in the film, (the protagonists being Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra), Ileana managed to hold her own in the film as the Bengali girl, who leaves her true love (Barfi) for material comforts.
While Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times wrote, "Ileana has a quiet grace about her..." Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN wrote, "Ileana leaves a lasting impression in her Hindi film debut, conveying both love and pain through those beautiful, expressive eyes".
Ileana won the Filmfare Best Female Debut award and was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film too, was both a critical and a commercial success and bagged several awards.
Ileana also stars in the Hindi film Phata Poster Nikla Hero opposite Shahid Kapoor.
Date of Birth: November 1, 1987
Residence: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Parents: Ronald and Samira D'Cruz
Siblings: Farrah, Rhys and Eileen
On her Bollywood debut in Barfi!
“It’s been a mix of everything; chaos, tonnes of hard work and emotions. It was loads and loads of fun.”
On her role selection
“I have been doing south films for six years. And there were lot of offers from Bollywood earlier, which did not interest me much. The story line and my role in Barfi is something I liked a lot. It is different from what I have done so far. When I was offered this role, I was flattered, as it required me to show my ability as an actor."
On the Barfi! crew
"Anurag Basu is one of the best directors to work with. I hope I get the chance to work with the same team again."
On her linguistic skills in Hindi
"I am learning (Hindi). I've dubbed my own lines in Barfi!. But I don't yet converse in Hindi. I need to build up the confidence to do so."
On juggling both Hindi and Telugu films
"A lot of people in the South are wondering if I will say goodbye to Telugu cinema. But I really don't think that's possible. I am really proud to be part of Telugu and now Hindi cinema."
"The two kinds of cinema are so diverse culturally and yet part of a unified, popular cultural experience that's Indian cinema. I've so much fun doing Telugu cinema. They're so colourful and so much fun."