Bollywood's girl-next-door Amrita Rao shocked all and sundry when she shed her sedate look and featured on the cover page of fashion magazine Verve in a revealing red outfit. But she says it wasn't a conscious move to change her image.
The actress, who will be seen in a deglamourised role in her forthcoming film Welcome To Sajjanpur, featured in the July edition of the magazine.
You recently shot a special song with Sanjay Dutt and Anil Kapoor.
It's not an item song, as people seem to think. They both made me immensely comfortable. They have their own unique dancing style. Since both are legendary actors I didn't know whom to match steps with. So I just decided to be myself and do my own thing. I must say all of us in Short Cut were overwhelmed by Sanjay's gesture. He came down to Mumbai only to shoot the song with us.
You did a rather bold cover for Verve magazine. What brought that on?
It wasn't a conscious decision to be bold or anything. It all depends on how different artists envision me. If Soorajji could see me as this simple, docile small town girl in Vivah, then another person saw me the way I am on the magazine cover. And if Farah Khan hadn't seen me as the grungy rebellious babe in Main Hoon Na after Ishq Vishk, I wouldn't have undergone such a change of image.
But the sweet girl-next-door image stays with you?
And I'm very proud of that image. But when I did the Verve cover, people woke up to another side of me. I wouldn't say this is a more glamorous side of me. I'd say I was glamorous in Vivah and Main Hoon Na as well, though in an ethnic way. I hope I'm able to carry off all kinds of looks. At the moment, I'm doing three films. In Shyam Benegal's Welcome To Sajjanpur, I'm an illiterate village girl. In Anees Bazmi's Victory, I'm a Jaisalmer girl, but at the same time she's a medical student. So I play a small town but modern girl. I like such roles. But in Neeraj Vora's film I'm a completely glamorous girl. It's set in the film industry.
Why aren't you in Sooraj Barjatya's Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi?
I wasn't offered that. I'd love to be in anything that Soorajji does. I consider my association with the Barjatyas to be very special. Recently, when Soorajji was watching the rushes of Ek Vivah..., he sent me a very sweet message saying he remembered my character from Vivah. So maybe I was being missed. I like that thought.
You seem to be a fragile girl. How do you withstand all the negativity in the film industry?
I don't think I'd have been able to be what I am if it wasn't for my mother. I started in the industry very young. I needed my mom to look into every aspect of my career. Today, I'm working with both Neeraj Vora and Shyam Benegal. Both unique in their own way!
You're the inspiration for M.F. Husain's latest paintings?
I think he has immortalised me. When a senior journalist informed me I was Husain saab's latest muse and that he was painting me, I was overwhelmed. I think it was the character in Vivah that convinced Husain saab.