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'I had no expectations from Bodyguard'

Last updated on: September 8, 2011 14:43 IST

'I had no expectations from Bodyguard'

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

Bodyguard's blockbuster success has been largely attributed to its hero Salman Khan and to an extent, its leading lady Kareena Kapoor.

But it's very hard to ignore Hazel Keech, who plays Kareena's best friend in the film, and never leaves her side through most of the film.

Yes, the beautiful London-based newcomer -- she's born to an English father and an Indian mother -- has a chunky role in the film, and she does full justice to it.

She opened up to Sonil Dedhia about her life, and of course, Salman Khan.

Your performance in Bodyguard received a fantastic response. Are you in seventh heaven?

Absolutely! (Producer) Atul Agnihotri was expecting to break some box office records but it has exceeded everyone's expectations. It feels nice when people recognise you and talk about your work.

Personally, I didn't have any expectations as I was just enjoying the experience and excited to be a part of a movie.

What did your parents think of the film?

My mother was very happy because I have been struggling for a long time.


Image: Hazel Keech

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'I had no contacts in the industry, and no money'

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How has your life changed?

It's funny how some people have come back into my life -- they're trying to be my acquaintance but they have already shown their true colours (smiles). Some people, who haven't spoken to me in a long time, have suddenly started calling me up and appreciating my work.

Otherwise, I feel more confident now.

Are the offers pouring in?

I have had a lot of meetings and talks are on. Things look bright but I won't say anything now.

Did you always want to work in films?

Yes, I started acting since I was three. I learnt dancing and singing too. I would participate in stage shows during my school days. When I came to Mumbai in 2005 for a holiday, I received work offers. So I decided to stay back and pursue a modelling and acting career.

But wasn't it difficult to survive in this industry?

Yes, it was. I had no contacts in the industry, and no money. It's been a constant struggle. I was about to go back to London when I got Bodyguard.

I've learnt a lot though. People are not what they seem. Some of them are sweet and kind to you but that's not their real face. There are a lot of double-faced people in the industry. I have some ugly memories but I'd rather take them as lessons and move forward.


Image: Hazel Keech

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'Marriage is not on my mind now'

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Coming back to Bodyguard, my friends think you're the main villain in the film, not Aditya Pancholi. Has anyone told you this?

Yes, a few people did tell me (laughs).

It was funny because it's such an unexpected twist in the film. Playing this character was a big challenge because I had to face it morally. I would keep going to the director and question him.

I would say my character is based on sibling rivalry. When an older sibling gets the first of everything, the younger one feels neglected, like my character.

Would you do something like this in real life?

No. Not if it was my best friend or sister.

Even if the man concerned was like Salman Khan?

(Thinks) Yes, I don't think I can do something like that.

But as of now, marriage is not on my mind.


Image: Hazel Keech

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'I fainted on the first day of the shoot'

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Was Bodyguard your first movie offer?

No. I had been offered small and unappealing roles, which I was not interested in. The industry is very delicate. If you don't get noticed in your first film, it becomes difficult to get more work unless you are from the industry, or have some influence. 

On the other hand, if your film does well, then you have to prove your worth.

First day, first shot. How was it?

The first shot was the college scene where Kareena and I enter college and Salman follows us. I was nervous. Frankly, it was a rough shoot for me, as I was very unwell.

I was down with food poisoning and almost fainted on the sets. The doctor had to be called. I can never forget the first day.


Image: Hazel Keech

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'Salman smells good'

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How was the experience of working with Salman?

He is incredible. He is like an angel and mentor to me. He has always helped me. He knew it was my first film, and supported me throughout. He never made me feel awkward.  He is very sensitive. If you are in trouble, he will be there to help you out.

Do you ever have a crush on him?

Who doesn't have a crush on Salman? (smiles)

How true were the rumours that Salman found a new girl in his life?

Well, he did find me (pauses) in the film (winks).

So, it's true that you are the new girl in Salman's life?

No comments.

There are girls who would do anything to be in Salman's arms. You got that chance in the film. How would you describe that moment?

I can't tell you how it feels to be in the arms of one of India's most handsome hunks!

But let me say, he smells good. (laughs)


Image: Hazel Keech

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'I want to avoid wearing skimpy clothes'

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You had to work closely with Kareena. Did you have any apprehensions?

Not at all. The fact that I was a part of a film produced by Atul Agnihotri and with Salman Khan in the lead role was a high for me. I waited for a long time to get the right film and didn't want to miss this opportunity.

You started your film career with a Tamil film (Billa), instead of a Hindi one. Was it a conscious decision?

Director Vishnuvardhan had seen some of my commercials. He asked me for an audition and briefed me about the role. I was doing an item number in the film, and to my surprise, the choreographer was the same teacher who taught me in London.

Are you open to do item songs in Bollywood?

Possibly, if it meets my conditions.

And what are those conditions?

I want to avoid wearing skimpy clothes.

Isn't that the need of the hour in Bollywood?

My mother and grandmother still watch films, so I wouldn't want to let them down.


Image: A still from Bodyguard

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'I played Harry's friend in three of the Harry Potter films'

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You have acted in the Harry Potter series as well.

Yes. I did the second (Chamber of Secrets), third (Prisoner of Azkaban) and fourth (Goblet of Fire) installments when I was in school. I played Harry's friend, and was in Gryffindor.

I really liked Daniel Radcliffe. He is a so genuine. He didn't think of himself as a superstar. He would interact with everyone, from the spot boy to the director.

It was simply magical on the sets. It's surreal to be a part of such a big extravaganza. I cut short my Hollywood dream to come here, and got a lot of offers.

But people prefer to work in Hollywood. What was the deciding factor to choose Bollywood over Hollywood?

I wanted a touch of both. I am very traditional. The deciding factor was the offer I got as soon as I landed in Mumbai, for a music video. I did not expect that to happen.


Image: A still from Bodyguard

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