'I have fallen in love with India'
Lauren Gottlieb, the 25-year-old American contemporary dancer who shot to fame in India with the film ABCD, was declared runner-up of the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 6.
Lauren says she isn’t too disappointed after losing out to Drashti Dhami because she feels she herself has achieved a lot since coming to India.
Lauren discusses her Indian experience with Rajul Hegde.
Are you disappointed?
I knew from the beginning that Drashti Dhami would win. She was very popular and has a huge fan following. She proved herself to be not just a beautiful actress, but also a wonderful dancer.
It's a big achievement to reach the final despite being a foreigner. Sometimes when you give your heart, soul, and hundred percent to something, the outcome doesn't matter. It’s the journey that matters.
Even though I am the runner-up, I feel like I won the hearts of everyone in India. That means more to me than winning a trophy.
After ABCD, people would point to me and say ‘ABCD’ because they didn’t know my name.
Now I have become a household name. All thanks to Jhalak.
Image: Lauren Gottlieb
'I made people laugh and cry during my performances'
How would you describe your experience with Jhalak?
Reality shows provide a great platform for artists like me. It was a beautiful and memorable journey.
I am the only contestant on Jhalak to score the perfect 30, 15 times over 15 weeks.
I made people laugh and cry during my performances. I also did a classical dance, which was a big challenge. I had a great time.
To come from a different country and be voted all the way to the finale just shows how much love and warmth the people of India have.
Image: Lauren Gottlieb
'It was always a dream to get into films'
How is India treating you?
I have fallen in love with India and the people out here. I came to India as a foreigner, but I'm staying in India as an Indian.
I love everything about this country. Food, culture, clothes...
Which is your favourite Indian food?
Dal makhani, rice, paneer, butter chicken and rotis.
Are you planning to stay back in India for more work?
Yes. I would love to. India is also home now. I'd love to go back home (US) soon to meet my family since I've been away for long.
Have you received any other film offers?
It was always a dream to get into films. I didn't know it was going to happen in India. It kind of seems like a part of my destiny to be here.
So You Think You Can Dance pushed my career and got Bollywood looking at me. So I know what reality shows can do for you.
I want to make sure that I am growing and I am waiting for the next project that just feels right. I want to take something that stretches me.
Image: Shahid Kapoor and Lauren Gottlieb on Jhalak Dhikhhla Jaa
I would love to dance with Hrithik'
Which is the first Hindi film you watched?
Bodyguard. It was very good. Hope I get to work with Salman Khan -- he is like the Tom Cruise of India (smiles).
Hrithik Roshan is not only an amazing actor but a brilliant dancer. I would love to dance with him.
During the finale of the show Hritik said he wants to do Remo D’Souza’s ABCD sequel with me.
And also Ranbir; he is cute and good looking.
Who are your friends in the industry?
Remo Sir (D’Souza), he is the one who gave me the opportunity to come to India and do a Bollywood film. He is always there for me.
My choreographer Puneet Patak is one whom I can trust completely. He teaches me Hindi, explains about the culture and takes me around the city. I am lucky to have them.
How will you unwind after those exhausting rehearsals and shooting schedules?
I am going to Goa to chill out with my friends for four days.
I have taken a flat on rent in Versova (a Mumbai suburb). After coming back, I will spend some time doing up my place.
Image: Hrithik Roshan and Lauren Gottlieb on Jhalak Dhikhhla Jaa