'I am the Ugly Betty in Patiala House'
Going from an edgy hip-hop artist to a simple girl-next-door was a challenge Hard Kaur could not resist taking.
The rapper, whose distinctive voice is a regular feature in pubs and night clubs, plays Komal Chatwali in her debut film Patiala House directed by Nikhil Advani. The film starring Akshay Kumar, Anushka Sharma, Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia releases this Friday.
So how was the experience of playing a de-glam character in her very first film? Sonil Dedhia finds out.
How did acting happen?
I never thought of getting into acting. I got a lot of offers (to act) in the past but acting didn't interest me until the day I got a call from Nikhil Advani asking if I was interested in acting in his new film. He told me that he and Akshay had seen my performance on Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and liked my Punjabi Gidda (folk dance performed by Punjabi women at weddings). I met Nikhil and he briefed me about my role. I loved the character and could relate to it very easily. Hence the film.
What's with the whole de-glam look?
I don't know where this de-glam look came from. Well, that's actually me in real life [laughs]. Everyone is going to have a great time watching me portray a simple girl in Patiala House. I play a very simple girl sporting a middle parting with two plaits and wearing very ugly Punjabi outfits who sings devotional songs in the Gurdwara. So basically, I am the Ugly Betty in the film who dreams of becoming a rapper. I'm playing a character that's totally opposite of what people expect of me.
Image: Hard Kaur
'I was very comfortable portraying a simple girl'
Were you comfortable portraying such a simple girl in the film?
I was very comfortable portraying a simple girl. I had the same look when I was younger. My grandfather used to say that girls should help in the kitchen and not be involved in singing or dancing. So whenever I had a scene with Rishi Kapoor, I could relate to him with my grandfather.
You are sharing the screen with big stars. How does it feel?
I feel very blessed working with Akshay, Anushka, Rishi and Dimple in my first film. I have worked with Akshay in the past for Singh is Kinng and it's always fun to work with him. Rishiji is very cool and an amazing person to work with. I actually got goosebumps when I saw Rishiji and Dimpleji acting. I have learnt a lot from just watching these guys. As for Anushka it doesn't feel that she has done just 3 films. She is very confident and dedicated.
Image: Hard Kaur
'I am not heroine material'
Any funny incidents that happened on the sets?
There was so much gossipping going on that the film should have been called Gossip House instead of Patiala House! And with Akshay in the house there was a lot of masti. He is very funny and makes everyone laugh. He was always trying to undo my plaits, which he managed to do one time.
The response to the music has been fantastic...
It's always a pleasure to work with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. The last time we worked together, we created the super rocking song Move Your Body (Johnny Gaddar). There is creative freedom and you can jam in the studio and have loads of fun.
I was waiting for another opportunity to work with them which I got to do with Patiala House. I have composed two songs. The album consists of all kinds of songs. It has been a while since we have an album that it could be played in clubs, weddings, cars and radios. It's a complete package.
How different is it to shoot for a film and a music video?
There is a vast difference shooting for a film and a music video. You have to be very patient when shooting for a film. Technicalities matter a lot in films whereas in music videos you just perform the song.
Will you be doing more films?
Obviously, I am not going to get a role in any film as the leading lady because I am not heroine material. But yes, if something comes my way, I would definitely consider it.
Image: A scene from Patiala House
'Not everyone is going to talk good about me or my music'
You have cut down on singing for Bollywood. Any particular reason?
Yes, I have been ignoring it for a while now. Apart form singing in Bollywood, I wanted to continue with my own kind of work. I am planning to make a new album. It's always good to strike a balance and do what you do best.
Your real name is Taran Kaur Dhillon. So why Hard Kaur?
Why do you want to reveal my real name? [Laughs] There is a story behind that name. There is a Punjabi joke which goes like this: What would you call a Punjabi girl who acts like a terrorist? The answer: Hard Kaur. [Laughs]. I like the name. Don't you?
How do you deal with critics?
Not everyone is going to talk good about me or my music. Nobody is perfect. I have had my share of mistakes too.
Where is Indian music vis-a-vis the world?
I think we have still a long way to go. We need to start getting back the whole pop culture, which has suddenly vanished. Earlier we had Bollywood songs, pop songs and stand-alone albums. There were so many artists who would release their private albums. But the whole concept of private albums has diminished in the past few years. There's so much talent in this country that if exploited in a proper manner, no one can even come close to Indian music.
Image: A poster of Patiala House
'I can't live without mascara'
Okay. Let's have a quick rapid-fire round. Five things people don't know about Hard Kaur?
I am a great cook. I love cleaning. I would make a great gangsta housewife -- my husband wouldn't have to worry because he can leave our children with me safely. I love dogs -- I have a pitbull and terrier in Mumbai. I am good fashion designer -- people don't know I design clothes. My fashion label is coming up soon [laughs].
What's your favourite cuisine?
Why do you have to ask questions about food? Now you've made me hungry. I love Jamaican food. Right now I am very fond of French cuisine.
No it's not Cosmopolitan or whiskey. It's tea. Funny, isn't it?
Hip Hop, obviously. I love Punjabi music -- after all it's in my blood -- and James Brown.
Favourite all time film?
I love The Goonies.
Makeup you can't live without?
I can't live without mascara.
My mother telling me to lose weight [laughs]. These new LCD flat screens make people look fatter. So people, I am not actually as fat as you all think.
Which men turn you off?
The ones who try to be what they are not.
Anyone who's really funny. If you are funny then I am going to love you.
Your first love?
Not good [laughs].
Image: Hard Kaur raps a song from Patiala House