Since she signed Kites opposite Hrithik Roshan, Mexican actor Barbara Mori has been constantly in the news, thanks to her sizzling chemistry with Roshan, both on and off screen.
Interestingly, Kites helmed by Anurag Basu may well be her first Bollywood outing but it certainly won’t be her last.
“I have been getting lots of offers from Hindi filmmakers but I’m considering only one of them. All I can reveal at this point is that it’s another interesting love story,” says Mori.
“I really liked the story and I have my fingers crossed that things will work out. I’d love to do another Bollywood film. Hopefully you should hear an announcement soon.”
She has met a few Bollywood stars during her trips to Mumbai but can’t recall everyone’s names. “I met Shah Rukh Khan and I’m told he’s one of the biggest actors here. He’s a very nice person,” she asserts.
Mori has also developed a liking for Indian fragrance. Wherever she goes, her attendant follows with a couple of lighted incense sticks. Sniff!
Let’s start at the very beginning since that’s a good place to begin. How did Kites happen?
A friend told me that this Indian filmmaker wants to cast me in his movie. I contacted Rakesh (producer Rakesh Roshan) on his e-mail address. We exchanged a couple of mails after which I met Anurag (director Anurag Basu) and him. They narrated the script to me. I fell in love with it immediately and Kites was on.
Had you seen any Hindi movies before you signed Kites?
No, it was only after I signed Kites that I saw Hrithik’s (co-star Hrithik Roshan) Jodhaa Akbar. I also saw a couple of films that Rakesh and Anurag had made. I can’t remember the names. Our movies are very different from the ones in Bollywood. The major difference are the songs and dances. You guys have plenty of them while we have none.
What did you think of Jodhaa-Akbar?
I thought it was really long. I wondered if Hrithik would be a lot like Akbar in real life too… If he’d walk with his chest puffed out, hands bent at the sides and head held high (demonstrates the walk). I was like, “Oh my God, how am I going to manage working in this film?” But then I saw some of his other films and I realised that he’s a very good actor and a wonderful person too. That reassured me!
You learnt Hindi for the movie?
I just learnt a few cuss words from Hrithik. Sometimes when I wasn’t too pleased with a shot, I’d use them. Everyone around would burst out laughing.
And did you teach some Mexican expletives to Hrithik?
Of course, and we’d all crack up when he said something funny in Mexican. (Laughs) You’ll have to ask him what all he learnt.
Kites is not only my first Hindi movie but also my first English language film. And I’ve done song and dance numbers for the first time in my life, as also, action scenes. It will always be my most memorable movie.
Was it easy matching steps with Hrithik?
It was really difficult since I’m not used to choreographed dancing. Besides, Hrithik is a fab dancer who works hard on perfecting his moves. I needed lot of rehearsals.
Does your son, Sergio, ever try to copy his dance steps or action moves?
(Smiles) Sergio was around when we shot a song and did try to copy Hrithik’s moves a couple of times. He asked Hrithik to show him some steps and worked hard to learn them. He obliged.
It’s believed that your brother Kintaro was to sing the song that Hrithik eventually rendered but Rakesh Roshan felt that he wasn’t prepared.
Not at all, my brother is working on a beautiful album.
What does your family think of your Bollywood debut?
Naturally, they’re all very happy. They’ve loved whatever they have seen of the film while we were shooting. I had come to Mumbai earlier with my mother and she’s very pleased with my work here. (Smiles) My son loves Hrithik too.
Bret Ratner is presenting the English version of
Kitesin the US. Do you see the film as your big ticket to Hollywood?
I’m just happy that the film has turned out beautifully. I’m told that the promos and the music are generating a positive buzz. It feels great to know that people are looking forward to my debut.
Barbara Mori – Fact file
Uruguayan-Japanese and Mexican, her Japanese ancestry is from her paternal grandfather.
Yuyi Mori and Rosario Ochoa divorced when she was three years old.
Sister Kenya Mori is an actress and brother Kintaró Mori, an aspiring music composer.
While she working as a waitress, fashion designer Marcos Toledo invited her to work as a model. And by 17, she became independent.
At 19 she met actor Sergio Mayer, who later fathered their son Sergio, born in 1998. They never married.
Al Norte Del Corazón
(1998), followed by the comedy series
Mirada De Mujer
, for which she won her first TV Novelas Award for Best New Actress.
Her first leading role was Azul in the series
, co-starring with Mauricio Ochmann, followed by
Me Muero Por Tí
with Peruvian actor Christian Meier.
After breaking up with Mayer, Mori dated Manolo Cardona.
Bruna first conquered the Indian modelling scene before inking a deal to become a VJ on Channel [V]. She began her journey with an item song in Cash, but hasn’t yet graduated to playing a leading role. Buzz that Salman Khan was to launch her fizzled out after he settled for Zarine Khan, a Katrina Kaif look-alike for Veer.
Born in Espirito Santo, Brazil, in 1988, Giselli started her modelling career at 17. In 2008, she came to Mumbai to play Jo, Saif Ali Khan’s Caucasian girlfriend in the second half of Love Aaj Kal. But at the suggestion of his wife, director Imtiaz Ali cast her as Harleen, the young Rishi Kapoor’s (Saif as a Sikh) love interest. No one doubted that the salwar kameez clad, shy-looking girl was in fact a Brazilian model who could barely speak in Hindi.
This Brazillian sparked off a frenzy after Teri neeyat, her sizzling item number in Teen Patti, went on air. Reportedly, she wanted to do interesting acting roles in Bollywood, but has been inaccessible to filmmakers who are willing to cast her.
A lot has been written about Hrithik and your chemistry.
As an actress I have to play my role with conviction. Unless you put in some effort, it’s not going to look real on screen. I click with Hrithik the way I click with his dad, Rakesh, and his mom, Pinky. We all love each other so much.
A relationship between a man and a woman doesn’t have to lead to one thing only. Hey, his wife Susanne is my best friend too.But didn’t it get awkward with Susanne following all the rumours about Hrithik and you?
If there was an issue, we would not have remained friends. Even back home, each time that I have a movie up for release, the local media links me up with the leading actor. At the beginning of my career, I’d get all worked up and deny those reports. But after a while, I wised up.
I didn’t anticipate being linked with Hrithik though. Thank God, his family and I know the truth. That’s all that matters. Susanne and I are very close, she was never upset with me. I love the whole Roshan family and they love me back. We even went partying the other night and we all had a great time together.
Reportedly, you also shared a special bonding with Anurag Basu who like you has successfully fought and triumphed over cancer.
I had cancer when I was 29. But I didn’t need to go through chemotherapy. An illness comes into your life to teach you something. In my case, it taught me to be happy and celebrate life with my son and my family.
What was the most frightening stunt?
None of them scared me because I’m quite fearless really. But yes, I did wonder how I’d jump from the bike to a truck. They were zipping ahead at full speed and I had never done something like this in my life. Hrithik and the action director were encouraging and after doing the scene, I felt great.
You could have asked for a body double rather than risk your life?
Initially I wasn’t allowed to do my own stunts but after seeing Hrithik and others do them, I wanted to. The action director was hesitant initially since he didn’t want to risk me getting injured. But eventually, he gave in. I feel so proud having done something that I wouldn’t have done in my country.
—As told to Hiren Kotwani
Hrithik Roshan on the Kites experience.
There have been so many rumours about Kites… That I play a con artiste, a la Dhoom 2. There is no likeness to Dhoom 2. This character is a quintessential hero in one scene and a normal guy in the next. This is the first time I am a hero who is not a hero in the stereotypical sense.
Barbara (Mori) is also not a salsa teacher, another case of misreporting that has been going on for the last year-and-a-half. There is a dance but the film is not about dance.
What made Kites different was that no one came to the sets with any pre-conceived notions. Barbara, Kangana (Ranaut) and I were allowed plenty of creative liberty under Anurag’s (Basu) guidance.
I’d worked in Jodhaa Akbar earlier where everything was minutely graphed. Kites was an open field where I could run, jump, open my hands wide and act freely. I had never been directed like this before, it helped me evolve as an actor.
—As told to Roshmila Bhattacharya