The kaapi carrying boys at a Chennai studio are feeling extremely hot under the collar. If the sweltering heat outside was not enough, Lara Dutta, in a tiny maroon and white checked skirt, is also raising the mercury levels.
We are on the sets of director Priyadarshan’s Bhaagambhaag, also starring Govinda, Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal. Minutes later, Dutta walks into a vanity trailer, now dressed in a maroon salwar kurta. Fully clothed, yet she looks stunning. She has lost weight but her husky voice and throaty laugh remain recognisable.
Articulate as ever, but a little breathless because her character of Munni in the comic merry go round has her “running everywhere. Everybody is chasing me. I hold the key to a mystery. It’s a mad film with a whole lot of crazy characters,” she says. It’s her first try at comedy and she certainly doesn’t think it’s a joke. In fact she claims to have been petrified of her director.
|Lara Dutta is all excited about her first comedy film, Bhagambhaag, with Priyadarshan.|
“Initially I was very scared of Priyan. He has a sarcastic sense of humour and he doesn’t believe in retakes. He will just ask for one or two takes and if you can’t get your act right, heaven help you.” That she was surrounded by Govinda “a powerhouse of talent”, Akshay Kumar “who is so good at comedy” and Paresh Rawal “now, what can I say about his comic timing” only added to her woes till she got it all right. “You can't be unaffected by them for too long,” she chortles.
She also takes pride in the fact that being the only heroine with “a hugely male cast” she was pampered the most. “I was also ragged and made a butt of jokes. Then came a phase when they all treated me like their buddy and would include me too in their jokes.” Talking to Dutta, it is obvious that she has had a great time shooting for the film. But wouldn’t her co-stars sideline her, especially in a Priyan film where the men always take away the best lines?
“No, it doesn’t really matter. I had always wanted to work with Priyan in a comedy and that’s precisely what I’m doing. I have got into this fully aware of my role and the script. When else am I going to get a chance to be surrounded by so many talented comic actors? And don’t forget — I’m the only girl in the film!”
The former beauty queen is also gung ho about her other assignment, Shaad Ali’s Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. But she says she can’t reveal anything about the film which also stars Abhishek Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Bobby Deol. After spending a month in London, shooting for Bhaagambhaag, she is back there with Jhoom.
Talk veers to Percept Picture Company’s project, Amarjeet, directed by Shoojit Sircar, which was launched with her in the lead part of a woman who takes on the tobacco industry But the film got shelved. “Yeah, the producers didn’t seem comfortable backing Shoojit on that film. It’s a pity,” she says.
With just the Ashtavinayak production Bhaagambhaag and Yashraj Films’ Jhoom Barabar Jhoom in her kitty Dutta says she’s happy doing just this much at the moment. And is she thanking her stars for not taking on Ameesha Patel’s role in Aap Ki Khatir now that it has sunk without a trace? “Well, let’s just say that I didn’t want to do the film when it was offered to me.” On that note, she breezes out to set the temperature soaring again.