Lagaan gave birth to a star: Gracy Singh -- coy, demure, relatively well known for her stint on television was thrust into the arc lights. And she passed with flying colours.
The jury members at the Star TV Screen Awards and Zee Cine Awards thought so too for they conferred on her the Best Female Newcomer Award for the Aamir Khan film.
Post Lagaan, Gracy seemed to have vanished into obscurity but the last few months have seen her back in the spotlight. With Lagaan off the Oscars, two awards and three new films on hand, Gracy Singh is on the upswing.
Rashmi Ail spoke to the actress about how her future was shaping up.
Lagaan has been your lucky charm. How do feel about winning the Best Newcomer award for the film?
It is an honour to be appreciated. But I have never believed entirely in awards. I do not and will not do films for awards or for the critics. I will keep my fans happy. What matters most to me is personal satisfaction.
When you debut with the very best, how do you make do with the rest?
You have hit the nail on the head. Working on a film as big as Lagaan is now posing a problem. I now have to be very selective about signing films post-Lagaan.
How do you choose your films?
One, the script must grab my interest. Two, my role should be substantial. The banner matters, too.
I now have three films on hand. I'm very excited about the film I am doing with Anil Kapoor. I am a huge Anil Kapoor fan, just as I am a big Aamir Khan fan.
Talking about Aamir, tell us, were you nervous about sharing screen space with him?
I was nervous on the first day of the shoot but everyone was so supportive. Aamir, Ashutosh [Gowariker, the director] and the entire crew made me feel I was the only person who could bring Gauri to life.
They made me believe they couldn't see anyone else in my place. That is so reassuring. Working with Aamir was a pleasure. There's so much to learn from him; his dedication not only to acting but to filmmaking is awe-inspiring.
Would you consider yourself a director's actress?
Absolutely. I give myself totally to the director; he moulds me the way he perceives the character. I don't come on the sets with any preconceived notions. I prefer spontaneity.
How has Lagaan changed your life?
Raj Zutshi, costar in Lagaan on Gracy
Obviously, I have earned a lot of recognition. The audience has accepted me as an actress and appreciated my work. As a person, however, I'd like to think I haven't changed at all.
Do you think Aamir will bring home the Oscars?
I am hoping and praying that Lagaan will win at the Oscars. I have my fingers crossed; let's see what the future has in store.
Will you be part of the PR exercise that Aamir is conducting to promote Lagaan?
No, I had no idea he had hired an agency [in the United States] to promote the film. To my knowledge, I don't think we will be doing any stage shows or other promotional activities.
Will you be stereotyped into doing Indian characters?
The audience has accepted me in an Indian character and that's wonderful. But I can play Westernised roles with equal aplomb. In fact in the next two films I play a modern Indian girl.
Tell us more about your forthcoming projects.
I have completed shooting for a Telugu film with Nagarjuna. The film should release in a couple of months as soon as the post-production work is complete.
I have also completed a schedule for a opposite Tusshar Kapoor. It is a remake of a South Indian film Baadri and it is being directed by Puri Jagannath. I don't really play a Western girl, I am Indian only... But I am a girl of today, the modern Indian woman.
I am also working in a film opposite Anil Kapoor, directed by Satish Kaushik; I'm very excited about it.
I am on the lookout for films I can work on and complete at one stretch, like Lagaan. You are thoroughly involved and it's easier to stay in character. I think I would be able to deliver a better performance if I shot like that. But I realise that cannot be the case all the time.
You worked in both mediums -- films and television. Which do you prefer?
I think television is more fun. Everything happens on the spur of the moment.
There is too much media attention and intervention in the film world. It is difficult to shoot in Mumbai. There are more interviews happening on the sets than shots being canned.
I'm not used to all this. I am a very private person.
It is very difficult to work in both the media simultaneously. So I have decided to concentrate only on films now. When I retire, 10 years hence, perhaps, I may do television again.
'I want my films to have some class': Gracy Singh breaks her silence