If all had gone well, Kangana Ranaut would've been Amitabh Bachchan's Lolita long before Ram Gopal Varma thought of it.
"I was supposed to do a Lolita-like subject with Amitabh for Pahlaj Nihalani. Then they told me Naseerji (Shah) was supposed to replace Amitabh. But Pahlajji was in a hurry and wasn't willing to wait for Naseer. Then I was told Govinda would do Lolita with me. The hero kept changing. I finally returned the signing amount and moved on," Kangana told IANS.
She is upset with the fact that the long buried issue is once again making headlines.
"Suddenly that dead project has been brought up again in the press, as though I had done something dirty. What was the need to shame me for a film that I had signed and backed out of properly? I feel it was a deliberate attempt to embarrass me."
Things couldn't look up any more for the plucky and frank Gangster girl. In just about six months since her startling debut, Kangana did one more central character of a traumatised girl in Woh Lamhe and trotted off to Johannesburg to shoot her first masala film Shakalaka Boom Boom with Suneel Darshan that releases Friday.
And that isn't all. She has just clinched a three-movie deal with UTV.<b1>
"From Anurag Basu to Suneel Darshan is a long way, isn't it? I'm having so much fun," she screamed, with characteristic enthusiasm.
Johannesburg was fun, she says. "When I did Gangster, I didn't even realise what I was doing. I did whatever the director said. And I was like a part of the unit, helping out in whatever way I could. Here, in Suneelji's film I was treated like a star."
In Shakalaka Boom Boom, Kangana plays a chic stunner who gets caught between the ego of a music badshah, played by Bobby Deol, and his protégé Upen Patel.
"I loved letting my hair down, loved the dancing, plus the performing scope. It's a Bollywood film. But it gives me a lot to do."
Kangana says she has become used to playing the central character.
"Both Gangster and Woh Lamhe featured me in central roles. Even in Shakalaka Boom Boom' I'm no walkover. I'm central to the plot. I feel very satisfied with my progress. To take up such challenging roles at such an initial stage of my career is a big challenge for me.
"I don't know how I'll respond to a role where I just have to stand around looking pretty and dumb. During Gangster I wondered why I had to scream and shout while my co-stars Emraan (Hashmi) and Shiney (Ahuja) were doing their jobs quietly. In Shakalaka Boom Boom I've a much quieter role. I've to emote through the eyes. Even my look has changed completely."<b2>
For the first time Kangana got the full glam treatment.
"I play a very glamorous character. I had Manish Malhotra do my clothes. I'd like to believe Manish has transformed me just as he transformed Karisma (Kapoor) and Urmila (Matondkar). I'm not the kind of actress who accentuates her mouth and eyes with makeup. I go for the natural look.
"I feel I look very soft, glamorous, vulnerable and innocent in Shakalaka Boom Boom. I've straightened out my hair. You won't recognise me. I've never felt I looked good. But in Shakalaka Boom Boom I do."
She describes her co-star Bobby as "out of the world".
"He's so down-to-earth and so willing to help a newcomer like me although he's such a big star. Luckily, both Bobby and Upen are tall. I had no issues about shoes. I could wear high heels without feeling guilty."
She's all set for the release of Anurag Basu's next.
"Metro has an ensemble cast. To be honest, I like the thought of not shouldering a film. It's nice to have talented co-stars like Shilpa Shetty, Shiney, Konkona (Sen Sharma), K K Menon. I got to learn so much from them, just as I've learnt from Bobby. Even the way he glances at his mirror shows how professional he is."
She sighs. "I think unintentionally I've taken on too much work. Now I'm going to slow down. I want to give my hundred percent to every film."