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'I kicked Arjun's butt'

Last updated on: July 20, 2017 18:05 IST

'Any plans of settling down?'
Ileana D'Cruz: 'What do you mean by "settling down"? It's a very weird term, isn't it?'
'I meant marriage... the traditional kind of settling down...'
Ileana: 'I love the way my career is shaping up.'
'I love the films I have got now.'
'I am happy where I am personally, professionally.'

"There is a glimpse of me that I'd like to keep private. And I believe that is necessary for my kind of sanity," Ileana D'Cruz says as she settles down for an interview to promote Mubarakan.

Ileana believes she's 'mysterious' and likes being so.

Ileana, who plays a Punjabi girl in Anees Bazmee's Mubarakan, tells Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore why she calls herself 'mysterious', calls Arjun Kapoor 'groucho', Anil Kapoor 'a child at heart' and Athiya Shetty 'squishy'.

How did a Goan girl prepare herself to play a Punjabi girl?

My basic knowledge about Punjabi comes from films.

Every character in this film has this lovely little quirky side.

I loved playing Sweetie in Mubarakan.

It was chaotic and funny; it was sort of a magnum unfold in a chaotic way.

I can actually picture people and immediately catch those little nuances that come with being a particular person.

(Laughs) (A) Goan girl doesn't look Punjabi from any angle.

I knew it'd be quite tricky for me to play Sweetie.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Ileana D'Cruz/Twitter

How did you prepare?

I thought of Punjabi tuitions, but thankfully, that did not happen.

We had a writer named Balwinder Singh Janjua -- we call him Balliji -- because Balwinder Singh Janjua is too big a name (laughs). He was very helpful.

He had these nicely written dialogues and help me to get the right accent.

IMAGE: Ileana in Mubarakan.

What was it like working with Anil Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor?

Arjun and I got along quite nicely.

Most of my scenes were with him.

Since we play a couple who have been living together for a couple of years, we needed that comfort level.

They (Arjun and her characters) understand each other, there are certain mannerisms that they have picked up from each other...

You have to do certain things that you can't script in, but they come from the comfort level that they share.

Arjun and I have that, so there were lots of scenes where we had to finish the scene as per the given direction, then we would do our own thing and improvise.

Like, if he made a funny face, I would respond with another funny face.

I think that made our characters more special.

It was easier doing those scenes with someone like him.

With Anilji, I didn't know what to expect.

I did not expect him to be as enthusiastic as he is.

He has this child-like enthusiasm for every little shot that he does.

You just watch him and realise he is so happy about doing what he does.

And it's infectious!

It rubbed off on everyone else. It makes everyone else super-positive and happy.

He is so inspiring as a co-actor.

To still have that kind of passion after 40 years in this career is amazing.

But I think the brattiest were Athiya and me.

We had this girl gang and we would play pranks.

What kind of pranks?

We have this very girlie way of saying 'Hi-iiiiiii' to each other when we see each other -- it's like when you are at home and a family member comes home after a while and you feel, 'I am so glad to see you after so long.'

We have such an easy equation. It's so easy talking to her.

I still don't know what we talked about.

Somebody asked me about it, but it was just easy conversations. Like, if you had a bad day or want to say something really stupid or random things like the meal you've just had...

Athiya is one of those people I got along with from Day One.

 Arjun Kapoor, Ileana, Anil Kapoor and Athiya Shetty in Mubaraka

IMAGE: Arjun Kapoor, Ileana, Anil Kapoor and Athiya Shetty in Mubarakan.

How would you describe Anees Bazmi, Anil Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Athiya in one word?

For Anil Kapoor, it has to be 'enthusiastic' or 'child at heart'.

I have a name for Arjun, which he is going to hate.

I call him 'groucho' because he gets grumpy at times and it's very visible on his face.

Athiya is quite 'squishy'.

Aneesji was like the 'mastermind and entertainer'.

Like, he knew what exactly he wanted from his actors.

That leaves us with Ileana... How'd you describe Ileana in one word?

(Laughs) I don't know... Mysterious!

Mysterious?

Hmm...

That's quite mysterious, isn't it?

Hmm... I feel there is a lot of stuff people don't know about me.

Like?

I don't know. I meet a lot of people and they are like 'We know of you', but 'We don't know a lot about you.'

And I like to keep it that way.

There is a glimpse of me that I'd like to keep private. And I believe that is necessary for my kind of sanity.

I'd not like the world to know everything about me.

I think there are massive glimpses of my life, very personal aspects as well, that I like to share with people, but just bits of it.

A lot of people say I am very mysterious. It takes a lot to know me.

IMAGE: Ileana and Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi!

You made your debut in 2006 with a Telugu film, Devadasu, and you made your Bollywood debut in 2012 with Barfi!.
You bagged awards for that as well.
How much do awards mean to you? And how did they change your life?

In the initial stage of my career, it made a huge difference.

Like, you are doing your first film and you get an award for that, it definitely makes a difference in your career.

It's a good feeling to get recognition for your first film.

I felt I had accomplished something -- the trophies look very pretty on the shelf.

You still look at it, as childish as it is, and as naïve as it is and get that winning feeling.

I didn't pull any favours, but I actually won it.

I remember I was filming in the south when I got the news.

The people on the sets were so sweet, they got me flowers and cake. It felt like a big deal.

I felt like when you get a Gold Star in your tests and you go, 'Yay, I got 100 out of 100.'

It's recognition; it gives you encouragement.

They won't matter as much to me anymore.

What kind of films do you like to be a part of?

I can't put a name on it.

It definitely needs to be challenging -- every character I think is fairly challenging.

But I think every role needs to be different than what I did in the past.

That's why I am choosy and that's why I take time (to pick up a film) because I look at the script.

Even if the script is great, if the character (I am playing) has nothing exciting in it, I won't do it.

There are many films that I let go...

Actually great films. I told the directors they would do outstandingly well, but I know I am not going to make a mark in it.

I'd rather do films where I can make a mark for myself.

IMAGE: Arjun Kapoor and Ileana in Mubarakan.

How challenging was Sweetie in Mubarakan?

It was very challenging.

Sweetie has got small elements of who I am, but she is very unlike me.

Sweetie probably needs to be told by someone to shut up sometimes.

She will pretty much say what she has to say if she feels it's the right moment to say it.

She won't think before saying something.

She is impulsive, which is me, and passionate, also me.

But she is incredibly loud and very physical in the way she talks.

She paces from one end to the other when she gets agitated.

She is pretty much all heart, but most passionate people are like that.

In the film, when I am angry, I have to whack Arjun a lot because that's the kind of relationship they have.

She pretty much whacks him all over the place.

She keeps whacking his arms, presses his head or kicks his (pauses)... kicks him on the back or something like that.

So you kicked Arjun's butt?

Yes, metaphorically, I kicked Arjun's butt... (laughs) not literally.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Ileana D'Cruz/Instagram

You are popular on Instagram, your pictures are bold and glamorous.

What I love about Instagram is that it says a lot without really saying anything.

Instagram is a nice way to know more about me, but I wouldn't want the world to know everything.

In India, people associate you with the kind of characters you play.

A lot of times, people come up to me and say you look are like Shruti in Barfi!, but you are so different and I am like, 'Oh, I am a different person; that's not me... that was a 1970s' inspired role.'

I don't know what your definition of 'bold' is, but the bold element would be not following rules and just trying to let people in on this is who I am.

If you like me, you like me, and if you don't like me, you don't.

But this is the person that I am.

Bold for me would be not being diplomatic.

Any plans of settling down?

What do you mean by 'settling down'? It's a very weird term, isn't it?

I meant marriage... the traditional kind of settling down...

I love what I am doing in life right now.

I love the way my career is shaping up.

I love the films I have got now.

I am happy where I am personally, professionally.

I am really in a good balance.

Prasanna D Zore / Rediff.com in Mumbai