'There is no longer any pressure to play the heroine. So I can have fun and be the actor I want to be. I can look beyond the hairstyles and the clothes. It is liberating to not have that constant pressure on you.'
Lara Dutta enjoys being 'back'!
Lara Dutta loves to talk.
The actress will be seen in Akshay Kumar-starrer Singh Is Bling, and tells Patcy N/ Rediff.com that she's "nothing" like her geeky onscreen character.
How did this comeback happen?
On February 13, my phone rang and it showed Akshay Kumar.
I knew it was too late to be his Valentine. I answered the phone and he said, 'It's (the break) been long enough; I need you to come back and do a film with me.
My daughter is three years old and going to school, so I have more time than I had earlier. So I thought of putting the time to good use and I am happy to be back!
There is no longer any pressure to play the heroine. So I can have fun and be the actor I want to be. I can look beyond the hairstyles and the clothes and concentrate on the acting. I am okay with not being the main heroine now.
It is liberating to not have that constant pressure on you. It gets stifling because in the last 12 years in the industry, except an odd film like Billu Barber or Chalo Dilli, I had to be a glamorous heroine.
Singh Is Bling is a fun, entertaining film. I play a mad, geeky character called Imli. She has no sense of style. I am nothing like her in real life.
Did you dislike being glamorous for so many years?
No. I love dressing up. And if one has access to the best designers and the best clothes, you'd really love it!
But then it becomes an everyday thing. I guess when you get a chance to break away from that...
I am over 30 now, and have passed the point where I have to prove myself on screen, like have a bikini body.
Are the roles interesting now?
It's better now than what it was in the past.
Fitoor happened before Singh is Bling. Gattu (Abhishek Kapoor, director) is an old friend and he wanted me to play that role because he couldn't see anyone else doing it.
It was just 10 days of work for me.
Azhar happened out of the blue. My character is fictional. I play a lawyer. There is a lawyer in real life as well but my character is not based on anyone.
I feel I am fortunate that good female characters are being written.
You started your career with Akshay in Andaz. He is still playing lead roles whereas actresses have to move on to character roles. Do you find this sad?
It is a fact. As a woman, the changes in your life upset you far more as compared to a man. My husband (Mahesh Bhupati) and I dealt with parenthood together but my life changed more drastically than his.
Mahesh stills lives the life he lived three years ago. In order for me to allow him to do that, I have to make a lot of changes in my life. That's a woman's job and I have no problems with that.
How has Akshay changed as an actor?
For one, he is fitter than what he was during Andaz.
I give a lot of credit to him because everybody knows that as one gets older, it gets harder.
His dedication and hard work towards his films has not changed. He is still the most hardworking actor I have ever worked with.
He has evolved as an actor. There is a huge improvement from what we did in Andaz. I guess practice makes perfect.
You worked in many different genres. Which genre are you most comfortable with?
Comedy. It's my forte.
I've had a lot of success with comedy films. That's probably why Akki (Akshay Kumar) asked me to do a character like this.
Comedy is one of the hardest genres. You can tell if it's working or not. If the director is convinced of the vision, you have to have faith in that.
Is it difficult to balance work and a baby?
It gets difficult but you strike a balance.
She's an amazing kid but mothers always praise their own children. She's bright as a button and really sorted.
She's been on the road from the time she was two and a half months old.
Will we ever see Mahesh and you in a film together?
Tanishaa has replaced you in Mahesh's production. Why is that?
I was never a part of Abhi Nahi Toh Kabhi Nahin, so I don't know where that news came up from.
What happened to Chalo China?
Chalo China was being planned but there was some issue with Eros International.
Anees Bazmee said that the four ladies from No Entry -- Bipasha Basu, Celina Jaitley and Esha Deol -- would be part of its sequel. Have you been approached?
Well, three of us are married and two of us have kids, so I don't know how he would utilise us.
But yes, Aneesji has been threatening to make the sequel for a long time. If the script is exciting enough, of course, I will do it.
There is a notion that glamorous actresses can't act…
That myth has been broken. All the girls who are ruling the roost, whether it is Deepika (Padukone) or Kangana (Ranaut) are very glamorous and yet, their films are running to full houses.
Priyanka Chopra and you started your film careers together. What do you have to say about the work she is doing?
She is fantastic! I wish I had half the energy she has. She was always focused.
How was it working with Prabhudheva in Singh Is Bling?
It was frightening in the beginning because he comes from a totally different school of thought. I have done comedy with David Dhawan, Anees Bazmee, Sajid Khan, Priyadarshan... Comedy in Bollywood is physical and animated.
In Prabhu sir's film, comedy has to be done with a stoic face. The comedy comes from the dialogues and the situations. It took me a while to adjust, to understand each other. But it was a new method for me, so I enjoyed it.
He is a very simple person; his instructions are very clear. He has very little patience for nonsense.
Which actor do you like from the younger lot?
Ranveer Singh. I like his films. He has a good energy.
I will be doing the next season of Miss Diva beauty pageant.
Plus, I will be a hands-on producer on two films -- one is sports-based and the other is a comedy.