As irrefutable as the economic law of demand is the law that states models have a limited shelf life. They should make hay while the sun shines, then bow out gracefully to make way for the next lot. But, as in the case of everything, there are exceptions. To prove our point, we present Lisa Ray, who has not only been around for more than her share of the limelight, but seems to be just settling down and making her presence felt.
Forget packing her bags, she's now making a foray in to Bollywood with Vikram Bhatt's Kasoor. Aparajita Saha meets the 'now-you-see-her-now-you-don't' beauty and finds out what being Lisa is all about. And this is what Lisa had to say…
About the famous Bombay Dyeing campaign
I didn't intend modeling at all. When I was 16, I was in India for a holiday and it was something that just happened. Modeling wasn't a recognised profession then. I returned to Canada and was going to start university there.
About modeling as a career decision
My family was involved in a car accident in which my mother was seriously injured. I couldn't join the university then because I missed the term. I needed a break so I came back to India and it continued from where Bombay Dyeing left off.
About other career options
I come from a family of lawyers and judges, so I guess I would have leaned towards that. I was always inclined towards arts.
About her frequent disappearances
I wasn't serious about modeling and doubts would inevitably creep in. And, when uncertain, disappear! But now I'm settled here, so no more of the disappearing act.
About settling down in Bombay
It wasn't a hurried decision. I was never really serious about modeling as a career until a while ago. After many years of commuting between Canada and India, I decided to finally settle down here.
About her favourite campaign(s)
The Bombay Dyeing will be a perennial favourite. I think it was quite ahead of its time. My recent favourites would be Lakme and Sprite. I like the work I've done, there's nothing that makes me regret doing a particular piece of work.
About her foray into television
I did the BPL Oye show for a while and enjoyed the experience. I was quite comfortable doing a show on television. Television is more personal than films because it is less larger than life. What I like about Starbiz is its informal format. It's chatty and genuine, that's what I'm comfortable with.
About staying away from Bollywood for such a long time
I had got previous offers, but was always on my guard. I've full respect for the film industry but I'm an easy-going person and prefer working in casual surroundings. The pressured work scene that I associated with Bollywood is what made me stay away.
About what changed her mind
I realise the ways of the industry are changing. There's a lot of young blood that is on the scene and talent is being encouraged. There are people who want to make a movie for the sake of making a good film and not only for commercial reasons.
What clinched it for me was the presence of a young enthusiastic unit. Vikram Bhatt is an excellent director and the movie has the support and involvement of people like Mahesh Bhatt, Mukesh Bhatt and Tanuja Chandra. I knew that I really couldn't ask for anything better than an offer like Kasoor.
About her debut, Kasoor
I'll reserve my judgement on the movie and wait to see the reaction it evokes! It has Aftab Shivdasani and is a suspense thriller. My character is a modern, progressive and career-oriented woman, a role that is rarely portrayed by the female protagonist in Hindi movies. I feel it's quite challenging and demanding and has tremendous scope.
About her experiences while shooting for Kasoor
We finished a few schedules and it has been a wonderful experience! I'm this enthusiastic about something after quite a while! It feels all the better because it's my first time! I always believe that the first time while doing anything feels the best! After that it gets repetitive.
I'm having an absolute blast with Kasoor! I feel charged and focused. I'm pushing myself professionally after a long while. There's a high when I'm doing something that involves discipline and professionalism and, at the same time, combines fun and informality. That's what Kasoor is all about -- everyone is very serious when it comes to work but the general atmosphere is so congenial that it barely feels like work!
About her as an actress
Acting is draining but in a very fulfilling way. I've done some performance oriented modeling for advertisements, but the kind of performance that Vikram demands is very different. He's from the new school which believes that acting should come from within you.
He draws out emotions and aspects of myself that I didn't even know existed. Acting under him is a cathartic experience. I'm a director's actress and Vikram has high standards. At times, I think I've delivered the perfect take but he convinces me that I can do still better. Then when I look back I realise that he was right after all! He knows his actors and what he wants from them.
About whether models make bad actors
I think it's an unjust accusation to make. There is definitely a big difference between modeling and acting, but there are certain things you learn as a model which help in acting. For instance, acting requires a high degree of lack of inhibition. You need to bare your soul and emotions to a
whole unit and be completely unselfconscious. Modeling prepares you for this since you're so used to being in front of the camera and being the focus of attention. I think anyone can act with the right direction.
About milestones achieved
Professionally, there are none that vividly stand out. I'm satisfied with almost all the work I've done.
Personally speaking, I took a year off around two-and-a-half years ago. I spent the entire time doing things I always wanted to do. Things that may seem mundane but that I needed to do and that were important for me. I wrote, painted, did an art exhibition with a friend -- these things and more are what really improved the quality of my life. It completely changed me as a person and I felt ready to get back to work at the end of it.
About regrets and misgivings about her career choices
There are no regrets as such, though I do wonder what life would have been like if I'd chosen a different path. Sometimes I do wish for a less chaotic and more regimented routine. I also wish I'd studied for a while longer.
About the turning point in her career
I've been taking my work and career seriously for the past two years. I like being in control. It's also important to me to be able to distinguish the person I am from the product Lisa Ray is. It makes me enjoy work a lot more. I don't take things that personally and have the required level of detachment. You don't feel exploited or keep questioning yourself. I feel sure and in charge. I'm enjoying this time in life.
About her future projects
Kasoor is the only movie lined up and that's keeping me busy with its intense schedules. I haven't thought about another movie as yet. Kasoor has raised my standards when it comes to choosing movies and has spoilt me! I'm going to take it as it comes.
I want to pursue modeling and television as well and have no intention of making films the only priority. I'm looking in to some television projects and am keen to do some behind the camera work as well. I would like to try my hand at direction.
I've been approached to be the ambassador for Rado watches. Lakme has some new shoots coming up as well.
About what convinces her to do a project
There are a variety of things. It's a combination of the overall quality of the product and the kind of people involved in it. I make most of my decisions on instinct and I'm fortunate enough to say that I haven't really gone wrong. I haven't regretted anything.
Whenever I take up a project, I intend getting the most out of it -- be it fun, meeting people or learning something new.
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