As bombshell Bipasha Basu, 30, reaches one short of a decade in Bollywood, she talks movies, madness, men (make that one man), and a molester who didn’t exist.
Is Diwali really a good time for a release?
Yes, because people are in the mood to catch a movie then. This Diwali they can choose from a situational comedy (All The Best), a deepwater action thriller (Blue) and a romance (Mr Aurr Mrs Khanna). (Smiles) May be they’ll see all three. Ours is a film that would appeal to all age groups from six to 60.
It’s been almost a decade in the business…
(Smiles) Nine years.
Ever wanted to quit and run away?
Never but I’ll be around only as long as I enjoy the job and am accepted by the audience and the industry. The day I get the signal that I’m not wanted, I will walk away graciously. I’m not going to hang around till my dying day.
The strategy seems to have changed now with you moving towards more meaningful cinema like Shob Charitro Kalpanik (All Characters Are Imaginary)?
I came from the world of modelling and was accepted in films initially for my glamour quotient so I can’t deny my basic USP. But shortsightedness can be so exasperating. If you’re seen as sexy, that’s what you stay till your brains explode. Hey, I’m a thinking human being too. Thank God, at least the myth that models can’t act has been busted. I was answering that question in every interview for the first three years.
You seem to have OD-ed on glamour?
No, I definitely want to do more glam roles. I’m only 30, I enjoy fashion, I love doing a Dhoom or an All The Best. At the same time, Lamha and Shob Charitro Kalponik keep me in touch with reality. I’ve been striving for a mix for the last five years.
Bachna Aae Haseeno was a major boost. It was a Yashraj film, a romantic comedy and a nice aspirational role. But it was heartening when people came out talking about my performance rather than my looks. <b2>
That was a handicap John Abraham faced as well...
Yeah, like me John was a model too who learnt on the job. No one was making a movie for him or recommending him for one. But he didn’t lack talent. I still maintain that Jism is his best performance.
I’ve known from day one that he would go far and he has. He’s a hard worker and has conviction. He believed in Anurag Kashyap and did No Smoking at a time when no one else did. Today, he’s beginning to understand the business. I feel so proud when I see him accepted in a Dostana and a New York.
Do you discuss work when you’re together?
It’s difficult to leave work behind completely. I’ve been around longer and have learnt to disconnect. But a man’s priorities are different from a woman’s. We do talk about cinema, the way it’s changing and our expectations from it. But I give advice only when asked for it.
What makes John such a hit, it couldn’t be only the dimples?
No, it’s nothing so superficial as dimples. John cares about people, animals and social causes and that’s how he connects with both the old and the young.
He also connects with girls, gays and his co-stars. Doesn’t it bother you when he’s linked with Katrina Kaif?
I think the media should chill. Everything that’s happening is before everyone, so why speculate? All this matchmaking and breaking up is ridiculous. I’ve been linked with five men at a time and there will be many more. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so disgusting!
You told Mughda Godse to chill too when rumours about the two of you not being on talking terms surfaced?
All this talk of competition is silly. If Mughda doesn’t look good or perform well, my film will suffer. In a multi-starrer like All The Best everyone has to give their 200 per cent without having to match up. I was never hyper about my co-stars. Today, newcomers come to the sets with an entourage of seven. I went for my first shoot to Switzerland all alone. No parents, no friends, no make-up man or stylist either.
You’ve been with John for eight years now. Has the equation changed? <b1>
Till you love each other, you work on a relationship. When you stop caring, you don’t. We still do. And we’re happy being with each other.
On how the recent molestation incident was grossly misrepresented in the media
‘If he had really behaved so disgustingly, I’d have killed him’
It’s disgusting how a newspaper went to town with graphic descriptions of how I was molested while visiting a puja pandal during Durga puja. Now every blog is running with the same story.
How many people do you tell that the incident was grossly magnified and misrepresented in the media? Had the man really behaved so disgustingly, do you think I would have let him get away? I’d have killed him!
What actually happened was that this guy was standing right behind me. He was a fan and I was this larger-than-life movie star who was there before him. He inched closer and reached out to touch me, probably to make himself believe that I was for real. I was praying and got a little irritated. So after the ‘anjali’ I left. That’s it.
John was with me and a girl might have touched him too. But since he’s a man, it wouldn’t have made a story. It’s easy to run down a woman.
On the Shob Charitro Kalpanik dubbing controversy
‘I missed my voice’
I’m definitely disappointed not to be speaking my own lines in my first Bengali film, Shob Charitro Kalponik since I pursued the dubbing for over a year. I missed my voice. It’s a strong and distinctively different voice.
But filming was fun. Rituda (director Rituparno Ghosh) treated me like his kid sister. And the movie is so beautiful and poetic, unlike anything I’ve done before. For once, I’m not critical of my performance. So I’ve decided to let the sadness go. It’s always better to move forward and not look backwards.
Shob Charitro Kalpanik is the story of Radhika, a practical woman whose life revolves around earning money and running the house since her husband Indraneel (Prasenjit Chattterjee) lives in a surreal world of rhyme, rhythm and imagination. Then, he suffers a fatal heart attack when she’s away nursing her mother.
After Indraneel’s death, Radhika sets out on a mystic journey. Through his poetry she falls in love with Indraneel and at the same time discovers herself.
The only similarity between us is that like Radhika I too didn’t grow up in Kolkata. My father is a Bengali but my mother is from Allahabad. I was born and went to school in Delhi. The North Indian influence is strong in me.
I may not be a non-resident Indian but I am a non-resident Bengali. What we call a ‘probashi’ Bengali and that helped me connect with Radhika.
On the sequel story
‘I’d love to do No Entry 2’
I’ve heard that Boney Kapoor is working on a No Entry sequel. I haven’t got any calls but I’d love to be a part of Be Positive — No Entry Part 2. The original was a cult comedy.
Race 2 is also underway. But I don’t think I’ll be a part of it. Why not? You’ll have to ask the producer and directors that.
On being an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world
‘Pankh is the most bizarre character I’ve played’
Pankh had no reference point. It’s a bizarre character and though imaginary, a reality check for the boy who idolises her. It was a role that required me to ‘act’.
The fun part about being a movie star is that you’re actually an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world who gets to play some really outlandish roles and is idolised for these characters. I’ve hand-picked some really crazy roles but at the end of the day, I’m still a simple girl who goes to work, works out and returns home to her family and boyfriend.
I’m your girl-next-door and yet a fantasy woman to several young boys like Maradona in Pankh. Thank God, I haven’t met any of them. I don’t want to, it would be embarrassing!