Zoom over to a Chinese chow place. Cascade of hair tossed, she checks out the menu, agrees on dim sums, Singapore noodles, prawns in soya sauce and more to the point, an ask-and-I-shall-tell session with the actress:
In five years you have been in movies, have there been any negative you haven't been able to tackle?
I can tackle anything, but yeah sure, there is far much too groupism here. you have to hang out with all happening cliques, belong to their right camp. I thought I was smart but I haven't been able to handle that. May be because I am a home bird,I'd rather read, listen to music than network at the clubs and lounges at unearthy hours.
What if Rakesh Roshan’s Kaho Na Pyaar
Hai hadn’t happened to you?
Do you know J P Dutta was considering me for Aakhri Mughal? It was planned as Abhishek Bachchan’s first film. Till they switched to Refugee. So who knows? Maybe I could have opted for another career. Maybe I wouldn’t have been here at all today. I could have been somewhere far away, travelling. I can be pretty impulsive, eccentric, childish.
Has anyone encouraged you to remain impulsive?
Vikram (Bhatt) is the last person you’d expect to pamper me but he does. He works like a machine, he’s thinking of 10 different scripts at the same time. Still, he encourages my childishness. He’s funny, he makes me laugh.
Does he tickle you?
Help! Must I answer that?
We punch and chase each other all over a room. I first met him when he was directing Aap Mujhe Achhe Lagne Lage with Hrithik and I. He didn’t have to woo me with roses and chocolates. We’d have long conversations about books, cinema, or about something that appeared in the newspapers. We loved each other’s company.
So why don’t you two get married, if you aren’t already?
What? No we aren’t, I’ve told him that I want to continue working for a while..till I’m financially secure. That’ll take four to five years at least. On his part, he’s told me that the offer of marriage is always open.
Have you erased the past?
If you hang on to the past, you can’t evolve. I had my share of crushes and boyfriends while I was at school and college. I’m a sucker for love and affection. I was into a serious, long-term relationship with a guy. It lasted for five years. We were at the Tufts University together.
When we returned home, he was against the idea of me joining films. He was possessive, maybe he had the right to be. The parting was very painful for both of us. But it’s cool now. He’s been married for three years now.
And how do I find out his name?
Easy I’ll tell you, it’s no national secret. Nandish Kilachand.
Okay, don’t you think that you made several wrong professional moves. Which is why Rakesh Roshan didn’t ever cast you again after Kaho Na Pyaar Hai?
I don’t think he’s ever had any issues with me and never will.
A story goes that he was quite upset with your father’s demanding attitude.
Was he? I thought they were very close, they were in school together. I’m sure if Rakeshji were to ever make a Kaho Na Pyaar Hai 2, I’d be in it.
Why didn’t Anil Sharma return to you after Gadar?
Anilji did ask me to do a role in Hero. But the dates were clashing with another project already in production.
Dates? Nooooo, tell me another.
Honestly, he asked me to be in Apne too, but the role wasn’t much.
And what’s the deal with Vikram Bhatt after Ankahee?
He’s working with newcomers and smaller starcasts. I don’t want to impose myself on him, unless I fit into one of his films.
How have you dealt with men, did they make passes at you?
(Laughs out loud) Innumerable men have made passes at me right from school and college, but none I haven’t been able to handle. Today men are intimidated by the fact that I’m an actress.
Huh, have you made passes at men?
Never. The hotties are not for me, attraction is all in the mind. Many guys may look spectacular but when they open their mouths, I want to run a thousand miles. The two men I’ve really cared for have been so, so sensitive..they’ve made me feel special.
Let’s see, on one occasion by gifting me a small book of poems. I also get mushy like once I gave a huge bunch of heart-shaped balloons to Vikram right in the middle of a restaurant. He was so embarrassed but it was cute.
You were upset with Pritish Nandy, the producer of Ankahee, for playing you down in the film’s publicity.
The less said about that trauma the better.
Have you been watching the films of your brother (Ashmit Patel)?
I haven’t seen any of them except Murder in which I thought , he was the surprise packet. He’s clean-hearted but somewhere along the line, unfortunately he lost his path. At most, I’ve said hello to him in the past few years. It’s no big deal, what has to be has to be.
Any possibilities of a reconciliation with your parents?
In one word, NO!
Now what do we order for dessert?
Heart-shaped balloons. Gotcha!