Not even a film old and Jiah Khan is showing all the spunk and spirit that one would associate with a modern-day Lolita that she's playing in Ram Gopal Varma's "Nishabd", which is set to release Friday.
Apparently, Sanjay Gadhvi of the Dhoom series offered her a role in the film that he's doing for Ashtvinayak. When Jiah inquired about more details, she was treated to a don't-you-know-I-did-'Dhoom' spiel that sent the well brought-up girl into a reverse spin.
Jiah smiles diplomatically at the rumours.
"I was never actually in Sanjay Gadhvi's film. Yes, it was offered to me. But at this point of time it isn't right for me. I know he has made spectacular successes like Dhoom and Dhoom 2. So I guess I knew what he was making," Jiah told IANS.
To make one's debut opposite Amitabh Bachchan and that too at the age of 19 requires infinite self-confidence.
Jiah said: "Even my French and Italian friends know about Amitabh. And they are shell-shocked. My friends always knew I was going to do something special. But a film with Amitabh ... I never dreamt of it. If I look confident on screen, the credit goes to Amitabh and Varma.
What did it feel like sharing intimate moments with such a stalwart?
"There were no inhibitions. It was because of the training at Lee Strasberg's acting school. The first thing I learnt at the acting school was to lose my inhibitions. And Amitabh was so professional. Varma helped me a lot to understand the so-called taboo relationship."
What made Jiah seek such a role?
"I think the role of a young girl's relationship with an older man sought me out. You won't believe this, but from the age of 16 I've been offered such a role thrice. But I wouldn't like to make a career of unconventional films."
Jiah is very fond of Bollywood potboilers.
"I've grown up watching masala films. I fell in love with Varma's 'Rangeela' at the age of 13. Though I lived in London, I only wore salwar-kameez. And I'd speak only in Hindi in school, never in English," said Jiah, who was born in New York and brought up in London.
"I find people in India are far more westernised than I am. Even though I grew up in London, I do have an accent. I'm very Indian. The first thought that came to me was - 'I want to do commercial cinema'. I was so obsessed with Bollywood."
We laugh about her comments on how good Amitabh smells.
"If a man smells good, he's a good man. Amitabh thought I was stalking him. He was progressively uncomfortable with the fact that I could identify his perfumes each time. You see when I was 16 I worked at a perfume counter. I think I freaked him out quite a few times.
"I must tell you about one incident. I remember one day I walked in and he looked at me as though to say, 'What the hell are you wearing?' I'll never forget that look. Did I change? No! It was my character's clothes."
Jiah's mom and sisters keep visiting her in Mumbai.
"You know I don't mind living alone. I'm here to work. So whether I'm sleeping next to my mother or to a ghost in the night doesn't matter so much to me."
Tell her any co-star after Amitabh would be a comedown and she exclaimed: "Oh stop it! Why is everyone saying this? Let me enjoy the moment!"
At the moment the young star is focusing solely on Nishabd. "I want to wait for the release of Nishabd. I'd rather see people's reactions before signing anything else."