There are many celebrities who claim their art is more important to them than fame or fortune but very few back it up with action, no matter how rich or famous they become. Anjori Alagh is one of them and Bollywood columnist DEVANSH PATEL got to know her over an unpretentious dinner in Mumbai
THE turn of the millennium saw teen flicks dominate the box office charts. Producers and directors finally recognised the renewed power of the youth market and milked it with gusto. Horror movies, psychological dramas, comedies, even Shakespearian tragedies - all of them made a fortune when released on the big screen.
And it was this period that saw the rise of Anjori Alagh. Her latest release last week in India, 1920, got her far more noticed than her debut film Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi despite only a brief appearance in the film.
But, being hugely ambitious, she's got all the equipment to grow into a serious actress.
I met her recently in Mumbai during the press conference for 1920.
Unlike other actresses, she wasn't just 'eye candy', lacking the talent to take on the meatier female roles.
Some work hard to widen their scope and eventually succeed in earning their peers' respect. Anjori was a glowing example of this.
And then when you are told by some Indian journalist that she is a daughter of yesteryear's TV and film actress Dr Maya Alagh, you stand where you are and question yourself, Is she?
Strangely, for someone whose screen persona is usually so open and simple, it's difficult to accurately describe Anjori Alagh. Sure, she's often feted for her Perizad Zorabian-like girl-next-door appeal. But then, like her mother Maya Alagh, she's also an unconventional beauty with tonnes of talent.
Hard to pin down, is Anjori. Harder still when you know her unusually exotic background. Her brother-inlaw is the head of NDTV Imagine, Sameer Nair, who is today recognised as one of India's most creative and successful media personalities.
With only two films behind her, she has an impressive list of friends who are A-list Bollywood personalities - like Zayed Khan, Apoorva Lakhia and DJ Aqeel to name a few.
With such a star-studded family connection, Anjori could have misused her contacts, but what's surprising is the fact that she didn't.
I mean, her first film could have been with Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan or Karan Johar. Or she could have done a cameo with all of them but she went for the complete opposite. She chose to work with director Vikram Bhatt in Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi and 1920.
So as most journalists would quiz the actress on her film career, I tried going the personal way.
Writing interviews, reviews and stories for the last five years as a columnist is like drinking tea every day. But this is the first time an actress has actually inspired me to write about her.
When I meet her for dinner at her favourite south Mumbai restaurant, Indigo Deli, Anjori comes across as a complete natural.
No fake smiles, no clichéd lines which celebs often use when they meet journalists - and no designer outfit.
In her white sleeveless top and her blue denims she looks at ease.
So when I ask her why a celeb like her is not draped in any sort of glitter, shimmer and shine, she replies: "Do I have to? I love comfort and I am wearing exactly that".
She pulls out another surprise when I ask what she will be drinking.
Now when you are a celeb in Mumbai, you'd naturally dine with a glass of red or white wine yet, to my surprise, she ordered her favourite apple slush.
There's no showing off and that's what will take this actress to her peak in the years to come.
Anjori now gets a bit more comfortable by sitting on the sofa folding her legs and talking about her favourite holiday destination - London.
Shopaholic by nature, she will grab anything she sets her eyes on from the big high street names such as Jane Norman, Selfridges and Zara.
As far as designers go, she loves wearing Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace. But on the flip side, back home in India, she wears her favourite designer Nikasha Tawaday.
In an industry filled with hundreds of newcomers, Anjori is different. Given a choice whether she'd like to be known as a good actress or a superstar, she settles for both.
It's not overconfidence but self-confidence which comes to the fore, and whether she claims both is just a matter of time.
It's 12.40am by the time we leave. She kindly drops me off at my place and gets ready for the next big day in her life - her first internet chat session hosted by Bollywood's première website, Bollywood Hungama.
It was her debut chat where her fans would be able to question her about everything and anything, and to look after the proceedings I joined her at her house in Mumbai.
The questions ranged from 'Did 1920 scare you?', 'Was the castle in which the film was shot haunted?' and 'What connection did you share with the director Vikram Bhatt?' to some very personal ones like 'Will you marry me?'!
However, the diplomatic damsel answered every question with ease. Known to be a pukka sanskari (very cultured), she even had a table full of Indian snacks ready on the table for us to munch on.
This personal touch was enough for the team of Bollywood Hungama and myself to stay on for a bit longer.
With Anjori's big day over, it was now time for my big day in Mumbai - EMI's music launch - which was attended by the A-list Bollywood brigade including Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Rampal, Sunil Shetty, Tusshar Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar and Malaika Arora Khan.
There I was in my black trousers and striped black shirt waiting to step my foot on my first red carpet in Mumbai.
I was not alone as my friend Anjori Alagh, in her black and white Jane Norman outfit, was gracing the occasion with me. She acted normally but I was a bit embarassed - a journalist walking along with an actress at a red carpet event at the Intercontinental Hotel.
As we both stepped on to the carpet, a pack of photographers flashed their cameras at Anjori.
She didn't black out with the lights and the attention she was getting. She was loving every bit of it.
We entered the marquee where the launch was about to take place. We sat discretely at arm's length, the music was released and then I escorted her to the car when she left later. But her affectionate gestures and comments linger in my mind even today as I sit at my desk and type this column.
In my five and a half years as a Bollywood columnist in the UK, I've met the good, the better and the best of Bollywood stars.
Today, I met a friend.