With a star on the Bollywood Walk of Fame (we wish), kilos of awards on her mantelpiece, and eight strong years of her relationship with John Abraham, she’s been a mainstay on the ‘most beautiful’ lists for almost a decade now and has a whole host of film projects ahead of her – life is good right now for Bipasha Basu.
I’ve been researching the sexy actresses’ ‘thriller’ fascination. Right from her debut mystery film Ajnabee to the present Race and to her newest movie Aa Dekhe Zara, Basu has a knack of turning the thrills into chills.
Before I got to talk to her over a specially arranged interview, Bips decided to add some frills too - it took me fifteen text messages, a few phone calls and two days to get through to her. But what added the thrill to our conversation was that the dusky damsel apologised for making me a bit distressed – not that I wished her to, but she sweetly did, making me feel mortified.
To be blessed with both good looks and talent is one thing and to be blessed with a beautiful figure is another. What sort of gruelling work-outs has the bong bombshell tried and tested in Aa Dekhe Zara?
(laughs) There isn’t anything special. I’ve been following a very healthy way of living for the last five years. I got into working out right from No Entry. Everything takes time. You can’t get fit in just two months. So I guess, with each passing year I’ve passed through different levels of fitness. Now I am in this phase where I am enjoying all sorts of activities. It could be weight training, cardio, yoga, etc. I try a bit of everything and mix it up depending on the type of roles I play. For certain roles, you could be a bit curvaceous, sometimes you need to be a little more athletic and depending on that, I change my mode of training.
Ajnabee, Raaz, Jism, Dhoom 2, Omkara, Race and now Aa Dekhe Zara. What’s this attraction to thrillers, Bips?
Well, I have to thank Ajnabee.
I never used to watch Hindi films while I was modelling, but with my first film being a thriller, it got me that much acclaimed fame, and there I was in the world of acting!
I have this special love for thrillers and I love watching them. It’s great to be a part of so many thrillers I’ve worked in.
Do you think the mousey-girl-next-door type roles are passé – out, I mean?
Mousey is a little difficult for me to play anyway (laughs). If I did play, I could be a very strange mousey girl. I can’t be little because I am tall (laughs). Jokes apart, A girl-next-door role is definitely not passé. It has been an essential crux of quintessential Bollywood for years, and yes, there is a scope for such roles still but being stylish and glamorous has surely taken over, and that in turn is because the actresses are too glamorous nowadays.
This is going to be Neil Nitin Mukesh’s first theatrical release in the UK and with you adding the thrills and chills, it just adds on to it. Are you anxious like him?
I am never really anxious about any of my films because I enjoy doing them and I just leave it. Then it’s the audience’s call. I would want them to like the film but sometimes things don’t go your way. Even if they don’t like my film, I don’t get disappointed and I move on.
So anxiousness I don’t have. I am happy because it is yet another film which is different and fun and I enjoy it even more when I work with new talents like Neil.
I am getting to work with so many kinds of heroes and he is definitely a new kind. It was interesting.
So how are the singing abilities of this ‘new kind of hero’ Neil?
(laughs) Very good, and better than mine, for sure. Neil tried his level best for me to sing too but I told him that no one is going to listen to my songs if I sing. So let’s just spare our film from my voice! I have no aptitude for it. But people have really liked the fresh take on the Aa Dekhe Zara songs.
ADZ The Rising – the band was launched for the film. It takes us back to the band which Pritam launched for Anurag Basu’s film Life In a Metro. Don’t you think these bands should not be restricted to one film alone?
Absolutely right. But they are getting a great platform to showcase their talent by providing music to the film and at the same time, we did the big launch to promote the band. The band is tremendously talented and to hear them live was like something else.
I think a band with the film’s music together is a great association for each of them. You cannot just tie them down to one film. Their work should grow, not stop.
Any research went into playing a DJ?
I have no idea about DJ’s except the fact that they play great music and entertain a lot of people. The DJ part is the back story of the film and it’s just one song Rock the Party where we show a little bit of DJ-ing. When you give a profession to a character and a back story, it helps in a way to perceive the character and how he or she would look like or how they would behave. My role is of an independent girl living in Kolkata who aspires to be a singer and she is into music all day. She is a tom boy sort, she speaks very firmly, she has got a great sense of humour, she has indigo coloured hair, a tattoo, wears funky pants and cargos throughout. It helps to style the character differently.
What’s the best moment you’ve captured on your digi cam so far?
It was 30th of July 2008 when my niece, Nia, was born. I was in the gymnasium when my mother called informing me that the baby was delivered. I rushed back and there she was. A picture perfect moment.
Has there been a high point so far that you look back on and think that’s where your career changed direction?
Honestly, I’ve never really thought so much, neither have I planned right from day one where my career will lead me. For a person who didn’t want to be an actor, then, getting into it fulltime as a profession, liking the work I do, everything has been different, you know. At various point of time, my first film Ajnabee, then Raaz, then people telling me don’t do Jism and still doing it, going into No Entry to do a full on commercial masala entertainer, then Corporate, Dhoom 2, Race, Bachna Ae Haseeno – I think the high points have been many and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. No matter what I do, even the smallest of the roles have got me some kind of appreciation, and I thank my audiences for that.
Brief us about the debutant director, Jehangir Surti
(laughs) He is a very shy, sweet and a timid kind of a guy making this thriller. We always had to shake him up and say, ‘Jehangir you have to start cracking the whip and sometimes scream and shout on the sets!’. So I did a little bit of Jehangir’s work for the first two weeks (laughs).
I was the one cracking the whip because I was the only seasoned person on the set and everyone else was relatively a newcomer. They were all really scared of me and that got them into a little bit of discipline.
I had to act off screen too!
They say that if the casting of the film is right, you’ve won half your battle. Casting directors don’t exist in Bollywood. Do you think they should?
You’re right. We still don’t have casting directors in Bollywood.
I wish we had casting directors and our business was well organised and functioning that way. But the kind of stories we make don’t require a casting director. We make fun fantasies and sell them all the time, and these are the kind of films accepted widely as Bollywood films.
Definitely, we are having a change and are making different films but the numbers are very few. A casting director is a must for our movies now because we are experimenting so much with our stories. It’s time for a change.
Is it getting easier to juggle being an A list actor who is still single?
I will be single till I get married (laughs) but at the same time I’ve been in a relationship with John for eight years. It feels like me and John have been a couple for eight years, all going pretty strong. I’m loving every bit of our relationship which we are juggling for almost a decade now.