She’s young, peppy and smokin’! Genelia D’Souza has taken a circuitous route to fame in Bollywood — an utterly forgotten film (Tujhe Meri Kasam) with Riteish Deshmukh five years ago, followed by stardom in the south, followed by her new-found stature as a ‘hit’ heroine, thanks to the success of her latest release, Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na.
While the film’s hero Imran Khan the cynosure of all eyes in the pre-release hype, Genelia has now become a face to reckon with — recognised by fans on the street everywhere. Her ‘top star’ status in the south cut no ice when it came to doing Jaane Tu..., says the actress. “It’s not easy being a part of an Aamir Khan production. It doesn’t matter how good you look, how talented you are, how big a name you have,” she says.
“Aamir will cast you only if you fit the role best.” Aamir not only thought so, but also likened Genelia to Juhi Chawla, the actress with whom he made his hugely successful debut as an adult star, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. “The biggest compliment he gave me was that I was like Juhi,” says Genelia. Aamir, she adds, was very supportive despite the fact that he never visited the sets even once. “Aamir’s confidence made us believe in ourselves.”
Not unexpectedly, since it was an Aamir Khan production, the work atmosphere was extremely professional. “Even before the shot, we’d know the scene right off the bat because we’d have workshops and readings.” At one of these workshops, director Abbas Tyrewala asked Genelia to look super cute. “I don’t think I am... so acting that way was difficult.”
She did the same lines again and again but to no avail and “by the end of it, I started crying”. But there is a positive to the pressure, she states: “I think if a director and a producer know exactly what they want, it becomes so much easier for an actor to give his best shot.” Genelia fell in love with the role as soon as she heard the script. And yes, she thinks there’s a little bit of her in Aditi.
“I believe that we were cast on the basis that a part of us was already in the character and the rest was left to be discovered on screen.” In this case, it was acting the toughie, swearing and fighting. “I really worked hard and had to learn it so well, so soon. But Abbas’s training made it easier.” In fact, she says the entire film was relatively easy. We were a bunch of friends coming every day to the sets.” She’s full of praise for Imran.
“He was ready to be a star, I said this even before the release.” In real life, she is not with anyone, but knows exactly what she wants in a man: “He should be totally unpredictable. That gives me a high.”