Yes, yes, who's that girl? For those who came in early, she is the hotsy-totsy heroine who has wowed Aamir Khan, Priyadarshan and Anees Bazmee. Five years ago, she made her debut with Riteish Deshmukh (no clearing of throats here, please), then she became a super-heroine in southern language films.
Instead of lingering in them for too long, she's about to return to Bollywood.. and you know what?.. we're rooting for this girl who spells C.U.T.E. Genelia D'Souza in a phir-wohi-dil-layee-hoon conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya
Any qualms about returning to Bombay?
No way I'm completely at home here, I'm a Bombay girl.
Why did you vanish down south then?
I was seen in three films in my first year (2003) - Tujhe Meri Kasam (Hindi), Boys (Tamil) and Satyam (Telugu). Even before any of them released, all my dates had been booked for a year. By the time Tujhe Meri Kasam was released, I was so busy down south that there was no time to think about coming back.
I've just had one other Hindi release, Masti, in the last four years. But I've worked in nine Telugu and two Tamil films, most of which have been blockbusters. <b1>
Riteish Deshmukh, your first hero, is well-entrenched in Bollywood but you have to start all over again. That must rankle.
I'm not from a film family and my innings down south has given me exposure and experience. I did good work there.. that has helped me understand and enjoy the medium.
For three years you were out of sight. Now you'll be seen in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Mere Baap Pehele Aap, releasing within weeks of each other. Couldn't you have spaced your movies better?
(Sighs) I was hoping for a gap but you can't plan such things. In a way , it's a bonus that the two movies are coming together. Two movies will jog the public memory even those .. who don't remember me will now hear of me.
Jaane Tu.. will be releasing along with Love Story 2050 on July 4. Given that Harman Baweja is your hero in the Hindi remake of Bommarillu, won't this create some amount of friction?
(Frowns) I don't see that happening. We're both excited about our respective movies. Jaane Tu.. is Imran Khan's launch.
With uncle Aamir Khan orchestrating the moves, won't you end up being just a shadowy figure?
No way. There's plenty of leeway for me to showcase my histrionics, you can see that in the promos. I can't say more because I have strict instructions not to talk about the film yet.
And what about
Mere Baap.. With Akshaye Khanna, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav around, won't you be just a decorative prop like Rimmi Sen was in
Hungamaand Tanushree Dutta in
It's a substantial role. I have quite a few scenes with Akshaye and Pareshji who are the main protagonists. I don't see myself ever being in a wink-and-blink situation.
You were in the original
Bommarilluand now you are doing the Hindi remake too..
(Cuts in) I was also in the Tamil remake, Santosh Subramaniam.
Ah, so it's a hat-trick?
(Laughs) Yeah, it's nice to know that there's no replacement for me. I won a Best Actress Award for
. I love the character of Hasini who's sweet, spirited and strong enough to take on all the obstacles in the path of true love. As you grow up, you lose some of the freshness and charm of youth. This character helped me relive the magic and
of my college days.
I also like the idea of a girl and boy living with their prospective in-laws before marriage in an effort to woo them. But surely Hasini will change as she moves from regional to Bollywood cinema. Anees Bazmee is directing the Hindi remake.. if he feels the character needs to change, she will. He's been busy with Singh is Kinng, so we haven't shot much yet.
There were very few changes when the film was remade in Tamil. But both the language versions targetted the southern market. Now we're aiming to woo a more cosmopolitan and national audience. So I guess the typical south Indian girl will become more Bambaiya.
How do Bombay girls fit into the southern film mould so well?
<b3>I enjoy acting.. so language is never an issue. So far I've coped well, whether it's a Hindi, Tamil or Telugu film. I even featured in a Kannada film recently I had a gut .. feeling that Satya in Love would do well. Since I was opposite Shivrajkumar, the son of Dr Rajkumar, an opening was guaranteed.
Of course, I had no idea it would become an enormous success and that I would get so much recognition. I was treated like a queen on the sets. (Smiles) And when an actress is well looked after, it shows on the screen.
What's the strategy now?
What strategy? I never planned a career in films. See without any strategising, I'm a part of Bollywood again.
Is it bye bye to the south then?
I don't think so. I've spent so much time there.. I'm now a part of that industry But though the response . to the promos of both Jaane Tu.. and Mere Baap.. have been positive, I know everything eventually hinges on the box office.
Is Riteish Deshmukh still a part of your life?
Was he ever?
Well, the buzz is that you've been going steady since Tujhe Meri Kasam. Even a few months ago, you were spotted having a quiet dinner with him.
Riteish is a good friend. But I'd dismiss this buzz as just another rumour. Such stories will never make a difference to our friendship.
So who's the man in your life?
(Laughs) What man? Juggling four industries simultaneously is a 24-hour job and leaves me with no time for fun and games.