Today, After steaming up the screen with her physical allure, she has demonstrated that she can deliver the acting chops too. Just back home after months of shooting spells abroad and a flying visit to the Cannes film festival, she's in her roomy Khar apartment.
With her, there's no need to exchange polite conversation. So on one of her easy days, before she zooms off to the U S, she's tracked down during a presiesta hour to be asked:
How was Cannes?
I believe in promoting one's film, whether it's at home or abroad. At one point, I thought I wouldn't be able to make it to Cannes because my dates were with Abbas-Mustan for Race. They were sweet enough let me go for a day. Ronnie Screwvala was presenting UTV as a company which makes new age films, they have Jodha Akbar on one hand and Goal on the other.
By the time I reached Cannes, the media meet had started. But yeah, it was fun being there.
The cleavage-flaunting sari you wore there has been much-discussed here.
I don't understand why. I'm not a dumbo who doesn't know what to wear where. Right off, I knew what I wore in Cannes would be under public scrutiny. Anahita Shroff got me the sari from Gaurav Gupta. Even a gown shows cleavage.. so what's the problem?
If I want to show my cleavage, that's my problem. All the designers there are so aware of the sari. If I wore the sari for a walk on the beach, I would have got the attention for the right reasons. It's only here that so much ado is made about what I wore.
<b1>You have been travelling extensively in the last few months. Do you get any time for yourself?
I love to travel. In Mumbai, I'm either working or meeting my lawyers and chartered accountants.. or spending time with my family, boyfriend and friends. At outdoor shoots, I can actually spend time with myself. I've been travelling for the last four months and it's been fabulous.
Reportedly at the shoot of Race in South Africa, you stayed cooped up in your hotel room while the others were partying.
Honestly, for the last five years I haven't been a party animal. I used to party when I was 18-19. I don't see any point anymore of hanging out at a disco where I have to scream to be heard. I don't drink, I get smoke in my hair and end up wasting my energy.
But I did party for 20 days during the Race shoot. The other 20 days, I was in my room watching (the American TV series) Lost. This report about me, sticking to my hotel room is wrong. Even in London I had a blast, shooting there for Goal.
Has the success of Dhoom 2 made any difference to your career?
I've gained a children's audience, kids loved me as the funky beach girl. To play the role of a bimbette.. with innocence.. is no joke. Moreoever, a Yashraj film only gets you higher, those who believe otherwise are being foolish. And I was also appreciated in No Entry though I played the other woman.
What prompted you to say that you won't wear a bikini in a film after Dhoom 2?
To wear a bikini is a very difficult job. I had to work out like a maniac for Dhoom 2. I didn't want half a bulge or an inch of fat on my body. I only ate oranges, a day before we shot the bikini scene. And Dhoom 2 was young, hip and very trendy. If I wear a bikini again soon after Dhoom 2, it won't make an impact. So let's just wait for now.
Have you ever felt disoriented about being a part of different kind of setups and genres?
I follow the commercial diktat that once you do an ‘art' film you're considered to be an actress of some substance. I enjoyed doing Corporate and the praises for my performance.
I didn't ever think I could dance till I did
. I had the two of the most amazing songs (
to my name last year.. and I also got the opportunity to work with Vishal Bharadwaj. It didn't bother me at all that Bilo's role was small. I have evolved as an actress from the days of
. Also, there's so much more for women to do in today's films.
So, why haven't you cashed in on the attention by signing many more films?
I want to do the right thing.. not anything and everything. When I started out, I worked like a factory. Now, I have my own niche. The big names know who I am and that I would like to work with them. I'm laid back though, I wouldn't know if there's a super role for an actress going around in the market. I'm here for a few years and.. (laughs) I want to work with Aamir (Khan) and Shah Rukh (Khan) before I retire.
What were the problems between Arshad Warsi and you during the London shoot of Goal?
Arshad and I didn't become the best of friends. We were working for long hours, at times over 15 hours a day. Also it was awfully cold, it was nearly minus one degree. John, Arshad and I have great roles. I'm a professional. If I have a problem, I'll sort it out on the sets. I don't carry my work after the camera has been switched off.
It seems Katrina Kaif and you weren't on talking terms in South Africa. What happened?
I don't speak to Katrina.. for reasons I don't want to go into. But we are cordial to each other on the sets.
Were you upset with John Abraham because he went on a partying spree, the moment you returned to Mumbai?
That's just malicious gossip. In fact, I call John ‘Uncle' because I know he isn't the partying kind. I know my man well and I will stand by him.
<b3>Any insecurities now that John is doing the Hollywood film, Luna, with Rachel Weiz?
I'm very excited that he's doing the film. He has the face and personality to do an international film. I knew about this project quite a while ago. So no, I'm not insecure at all.. because I know his roots are here.
Rumours are that Saif Ali Khan and you've become majorly friendly while shooting for Race?
(Laughs) Can't I make a friend, no strings attached? I enjoy talking to Saif because he is very cool. He talks about so many other things besides work. Also I know he can be a friend in the true sense of the word. (Smiles) Just because he's single now, don't get me into trouble.
Have you made other friends in showbiz, besides Saif Ali Khan?
I'm very cordial with everyone.. with the exception of one or two people. Ajay (Devgan) is also a friend. You connect with some people.. you don't with others.