Lara Dutta, who recently announced her engagement with Mahesh Bhupathi, speaks to Roshmila Bhattacharya on her first home production, other movies and more.
Let’s start with your first home production, Chalo Dilli. Is it on the Commonwealth Games?
(Laughs) No, it’s a light-hearted satire that will be produced under the banner of Bheegi Baatein Entertainment. The name of the company reflects how ‘filmi’ I am. I’m in it, but I haven’t locked on the hero.
You could always sign Mahesh Bhupathi. His doubles partner, Leander Paes, is debuting as an actor?
Mahesh is a huge film buff. He’s the ‘first-day-first-show’ kind. He loves every aspect of cinema and this took me by surprise. I’ve bounced the script off him and he had some valid suggestions. But I think his passion is limited to watching movies. I’ll be surprised if he decided to become an actor tomorrow, but not if he gets into film production some day.
Which of your movies rank high in his favourites’ list?
Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. He loves the medley in the title track. Also, Partner and Khakee. He saw me for the first time in Aisa jadoo dala re… in Khakee.
Has he ever sung it for you?
Even if he wanted to, I wouldn’t let him. He doesn’t have a great singing voice.
Is Challo Dilli the film you have been scripting?
No, but may be I will get to produce that film too. I already have a second project lined up, that may or may not star me.
What about a film on tennis since you will have a consultant?
(Laughs) Mahesh would love that.
Do you play tennis?
Mahesh has been trying, we’ve got to do badminton, may be some day. It’s enough that I watch him play. It’s nerve-wrecking since I want him to win every point. I was a bundle of nerves during the US Open. And it was my first Grand Slam too!
Did you meet Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in New York?
Yeah, they are both nice and courteous, absolutely no airs despite being the biggest sporting superstars.<B1>
And Leander Paes? Mahesh and he have had their share of differences?
Both Lee and Mahesh are wonderful athletes and I don’t think even those close to them would understand what goes on with them, so I don’t even try. It’s wonderful that while they may play with other partners, when it’s Team India, they are together and don’t let differences come in the way. Personally, I think they are both happy now, no anger, no negativity.
Now that you will be a WASP soon, will it be adieu to movies?
Never, both Mahesh and I are self-made individuals who are committed to our careers. I’m in Chennai rooting for him, he’ll come down to Berlin when I’m shooting for Don 2. We will support each other even when we’re apart.
Tennis will be his priority till the 2012 Olympics and I have Don 2 releasing on December 23, 2011, to look forward to.
By then you will be married. Won’t that diminish your star value?
Why should it? Kajol’s married and working, so is Aishwarya (Bachchan) and Konkona (Sen Sharma). A talented actor gets opportunities.
But I’m no longer excited about playing a 22-year-old glam doll. I’m looking for roles that are layered and complex, like Ishqiya. Roles that will project me as a woman rather than a girl.
But Don 2 is ultra glam?
It is, and I’m super-excited because it’s a new character with no predecessor to match up to. In the Don remake, Priyanka (Chopra) had a role model in Zeenat (Aman) and Kareena (Kapoor) in Helenji, who’s a legend. It must have been scary. But I have no such worries. At times, I have been compared to Sridevi but there were no parallels drawn with performance.
It’s great to be back with Shah Rukh (Khan). We had only a song together in Billu. He is charismatic and wonderfully chivalrous. We’ll be shooting in Berlin and other cities in Germany on locations that were out-of-bounds to even Tom Cruise.
What’s happening with Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai?
Raviji (producer-director Ravi Chopra) has been unwell, and it’s important that he gets better. If not this year, it’ll definitely come in 2011. Govinda is in top form, and I’ve done good work too.
Isn’t it a copy of the Hollywood hit, My Cousin Vinny?
It’s not an exact copy but an ‘desi’ adaptation. We Are Family was also an official remake of Stepmom and people saw it, didn’t they?
Instead of cashing in on hits like Partner, you’ve dropped out of the scene. Why?
I love being a part of Hindi cinema but at the same time, I need space to do things other than films. When I’m working on a movie, I live it, 24x7, but once it’s over, I need to get away.
I was in Taiwan recently, as a special guest of the Economic Affairs Ministry. I’m helping promote Taiwan Excellence, their campaign in India, and it was a wonderful experience.
So was the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the US Open in New York. There’s a world out there to be discovered and I don’t want to just be caught in wonderworld. With Mahesh by my side, the journey ahead looks wonderful!