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The Rediff Interview/Nauheed Cyrusi

'My idols are Kajol and Madhuri'

June 05, 2003

She loves pani puris and enjoys the singing and dancing that is part and parcel of Hindi films.

Nauheed CyrusiThe effervescent and charming Nauheed Cyrusi debuts in Bollywood with Padam Kumar's Supari (Nandita Das, Uday Chopra, Rahul Dev, Purab Kohli, Aakash Saigal). She has also signed Vikram Bhatt's Inteha (Ashmit Patel, Vidya Malavade) and choreographer Ahmed Khan's debut film Lakeer (Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, John Abraham, Sohail Khan).

Nauheed has already starred in various television commercials and music videos, including Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra's Piya Basanti.

From a regular commerce student in Mumbai's Jaihind College to a starry-eyed newcomer in Bollywood, Nauheed has come a long way as she awaits the release of Supari on June 13.

Monika Baldwa spoke to the 19-year-old about her Bollywood experience. Excerpts:

How did modelling happen?

It happened by chance. When I was in class VIII [J B Vacha school], I accompanied my best friend to an audition. I got the part instead and did the Dhara Oil advertisement. I was only 14. After that, I featured in Britannia Little Hearts [biscuits], Ayurvedic Concepts [medical products, now know as Himalaya], and Head & Shoulders [shampoo]. These commercials got me noticed. I still don't have a portfolio.

You also featured in the music video, Piya basanti.

Piya basanti was the turning point. Director Pradeep Sarkar shot the video in the picturesque locales of Kothgad [near Shimla]. The climate was extreme and not-so-good for shooting. It was raining all the time. Every time the sun came out, we would run to shoot. Every minute of those eight days of shooting was memorable.

Piya basanti changed it all for me. Everywhere I went, I was known as the Piya basanti girl. People would come up for autographs. It was a little embarrassing. Suddenly, I was flooded with film offers. But I love being in front of the camera. Moving from modelling to acting isn't an effort.

How did you bag Supari?

Like I said, I received a lot of offers. But I wasn't sure I wanted to be an actress. Both my parents are in the aviation industry; I wanted to be an airhostess.

Supari happened because of Channel [V] veejay Purab Kohli. He was already a part of the film. We had worked together in the serial Hip Hip Hurray [on Zee TV]. He suggested my name to director Padam Kumar.

We met. He narrated the script and I loved my part. I decided to do it.

Is Supari, which has so many actors, an ideal launch?

I am instinctive. My gut said it was a good role to debut in. I go a lot by my instinct.

With Uday Chopra in SupariWhat I like about Supari was that, for my first film, there aren't any heavy-duty romantic scenes in it. I play a regular Parsi girl who is Uday Chopra's love interest. I have only one song [Tujhe chaand chahiye] that is slightly glamorised. My character in the film, Dilnawaz, is a tomboy. It is a lot like me -- bubbly and happy-go-lucky.

I really enjoyed doing the two emotional scenes with Uday in the film.

Like my director [Padam Kumar] says, I am the fun element in a dark film.

What was working in Supari like?

What I loved about shooting for Supari was that we shot in Canada for two months. It was like a vacation. I had so much fun, I didn't want to come back.

Working with Uday and Nandita [Das] was a lot of fun. Uday is a nice and genuine person. He made me comfortable on the sets.

Seeing my promos and have friends call me is a huge high. After the song, Tujhe chaand chahiye, was aired on television, my pictures are all over the place. It still hasn't hit me. Maybe it will, once I see myself on screen, in the theatre.

How are you coping with Bollywood?

For somebody who comes from a non-filmi background, Bollywood can be a major culture shock. You have to learn to deal with it. I was worried how I would handle it because one hears weird stories about it. But I am adapting. I am not changing myself, but I am learning how to handle the environment and work culture.

Have you signed any other films after Supari?

Yes. I have signed two films. I am working in Vikram Bhatt's Inteha with Ashmit Patel [Amisha Patel's younger brother] and Vidya Malavade. It is a horror thriller. Since we are all newcomers, it's a lot of fun. My role has a slight negative shade.

I also have Ahmed Khan's Lakeer. It is an out-and-out commercial film, with a lot of twists and turns. It stars Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, John Abraham, and Sohail Khan. So far, I am the only girl in the film. It is a very glossy production. I am looking forward to the shooting.

What was the experience of working with three different directors like?

My directors made me feel absolutely comfortable. Whether it's Vikram Bhatt or Ahmed Khan or Padam Kumar, they don't stress you out. I keep asking them to give me a lot of feedback. They do tell me what I am doing right or wrong. I make mistakes, but I am quick to learn from them. I don't judge myself. Hence, the opinion of my directors is very important. I try and work upon their suggestions.

What I love about films is the song-and-dance routine. The scenes are challenging, but saying the dialogues 10-15 times can get monotonous.

Which actresses do you admire the most?

My idols are Kajol and Madhuri Dixit. I want to act like them.

NauheedDo you find acting exhausting?

Yes. Like now, I am working crazy hours -- from 7pm to 5am. I sleep during the day so I can't talk to any of my friends. That is frustrating.

What thrills me is when my director says pack-up. I am like any other teenybopper. I love going home and hanging out with my friends.

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