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The ground beneath her feet

With a role in the Yashraj film, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Minissha Lamba has finally arrived. But the actress refuses to let success go to her head. Parul Khanna catches up with the actress.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2008 12:30 IST
Parul Khanna

Once upon a time, Minissha Lamba had planned to be a journalist. Specifically, a war journalist, rushing from one area of conflict to another, updating the world about the grim realities of life.



That seemed the natural thing to do, given that Minissha graduated with a degree in English honours. But life seldom goes as planned, so Minissha’s career consists of the non-so-grim realities of reel life. Running around trees, singing songs and being a heroine.



And she loves it.



Ups and ups


Why shouldn’t she? Minissha’s debut movie,

Yahaan

, was a single heroine project that gave her a lot of screen space. And eight flicks down the line, she’s now about to hit the screen again with a role in the Yashraj film,

Bachna Ae Haseeno

, opposite the film industry’s hottest newcomer, Ranbir Kapoor. If that doesn’t show she’s arrived, what else could?



Bachna…

is big for me. It’s my first commercial romantic comedy,” says Minissha. “I have done commercial movies like

Yahaan

, Shaurya and Anthony before. But this is total masala. It’s a great honour to be in a Yashraj movie in such a short span of my career.”


Eight films down and you notice something a little odd about Minissha. You see her on screen, yes. But in the gossip pages of newspapers and magazines? No. Well, hardly. This is odd because wannabe heroines usually revel in the publicity that gossip brings. That’s how they stay in the public eye.



As far as Minissha is concerned, however, substance matters instead. And she doesn’t mind if substance takes longer to register in the industry than fluff.



“There is no particular recipe for success,” she says. “Some people might gain mileage from controversies but I have managed pretty well without them.

Yahaan

, my first film, wasn’t a huge commercial success but I was noticed. I also did smaller roles in movies like

Corporate

, because I believed in the filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and wanted to be associated with the project. I am happy if success comes slow as it will be steadier. And I’m better equipped now to deal with success than I was three years ago.”



Wise words, and they come from experience. Three years ago, Manisha was alone in Mumbai, with no knowledge of the film industry. “I had to rely on people who were getting me parts. I knew nothing. I wasn’t grounded then,” she says. But with experience, she can decide good from bad herself and feels she has achieved a comfort level with herself that a newcomer who gets too much fame too soon would never have.



“If I’d been successful then, I am sure I would have experienced ecstatic bursts of euphoria and bouts of depresssion. Now, I am grounded,” she says.



Hits and myths


Though it sounds like a cliché, Bollywood happened to Minissha by chance. Her looks, however, had got her noticed years ago when she lived in Chennai because her father had been posted there. Then aged 12, she was offered a starring role in a south Indian film but wasn’t interested.



Later, as a college student at Miranda House, Delhi, Minissha modelled for fun and pocket money, and, during a shoot for Cadbury’s chocolate, was offered the role in

Yahaan

.



“Shoojit Sircar was the director of the commercial and he asked me to work with him,” says Minissha. “I didn’t want to work in a movie, but Shoojit succeeded in convincing my parents that I should do it. They knew I planned to be a war journalist and didn’t want me to go into areas of conflict. So they convinced me to give the film a shot. And that’s how easily I joined the film industry.”


She makes no bones about the fact that she never had to ‘struggle’. Instead, Minissha moved to Mumbai only after she’d finished shooting for

Yahaan

.



And the industry, she says, is easier on newcomers than most of us believe. “It’s much more open to outsiders now,” she says. “It’s not just about me. Any talented person can get a break and more and more people are joining it in fields like direction, writing and even the technical areas. The industry has opened and nobody has it easier or tougher than anyone else.”



Action plan


Now that she’s had some experience and gained confidence, Minishha is clear about the kind of films she wants to do in future. “I want to do films that are a complete package, with great a big starcast. I want to experiment a lot,” she says. “My function is to entertain the audience. I would do whatever it takes to achieve that.”



She will be seen in new avataars in two of her forthcoming films. In

Bachna Ae Haseeno

, she plays a simple girl from Amritsar, whose sole aim in life is to fall in love. And in Kidnap, with Sanjay Dutt, she plays a bindass Mumbaikar.



“Though I am supposed to be 17 in both films, the characters are vastly different from each other,” says Minissha. “Even the clothes are different. I wear Indo-western in Bachna, whereas in Kidnap, I only wear western clothes. My body language differs too. In Bachna, I jump and walk like a naïve and innocent girl and in Kidnap, I walk with a swagger.”



But despite her experience in the industry, she’s still young and hasn’t seen much of the world, which is why Minissha is known as a director’s actress. “I get stuck sometimes when I’m asked to enact emotions or situations that I haven’t seen myself in real life,” she says. “That’s when I ask the directors for help.”



She has to do that less and less now. During the shoot of her first film, Shoojit nearly made Minissha cry because she couldn’t emote. Now she feels she’s able to control the histrionics. “And I’ll only get better,” she says.