Iulia Vantur knew that the launch of her song with Himesh Reshammiya would be dominated by questions about her relationship status with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan. And she took them on with a smile. Rajul Hegde listens in.
When Salman Khan's rumoured girl friend, Romanian television host Iulia Vantur, finally made her first media appearance she knew that questions about her relationship rather than the occasion — the launch of her song Every Night And Day with music composer Himesh Reshammiya — would dominate the evening. And she came prepared.
"He (Khan) told me to be natural and be myself," she said with a smile in response to the first question: What tips did the Bollywood superstar give her before she faced the media.
"This is our first meeting I hope it will be pleasant for you guys and for me as well," she added.
Vantur’s time in India, from an outsider’s perspective, has seemed to revolve around her relationship with Salman Khan and rumours of weddings past and present.
Asked about the reports of an earlier marriage, Vantur said: “I was never married! It came in the press that I was married and I left my husband -- but it's not true!”
"For me, such rumours are not a problem,” she added, “but for my parents it's difficult to hear such kind of stuff, which is not true.”
On the speculation surrounding the status of her relationship with Salman Khan, Vantur said, "There are so many stories. He is a very good friend. More than that what can I say? There is lot of respect for him. It is because of him I am in India. And I love India.”
"There are a few reports that I am not comfortable with the Indian culture, but that is not correct,” she continued. “Let me be clear that I love this place and all the people I have met here. As a kid, I always wanted to come here because I used to read so many stories about India and I was fascinated. When the time was right, I came. And the first feeling when I stepped here was that it was like home. The energy and the vibe of this country were so good and welcoming."
She added, "Honestly, when I left India, I cried because I didn't want to leave this land. But, you see, life brought me back here. I must say I love the people here, and I am grateful to him (Salman) for helping me out here."
With questions about her relationships out of the way, Vantur’s music could finally take centre stage.
Despite her music training in Romania and now in India, she said, "I am not planning to make a career out of signing; it's just my passion. I am enjoying what is happening now. I am going with the flow. I have no idea what the future holds for me because someone up there loves me and has better plans than I ever thought of.”
Those plans led to her teaming up with Salman Khan earlier this year to record another version of the hit Sultan track Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai, and now with Reshammiya.
“It's a big opportunity to sing with Himesh and I feel blessed," said Vantur, claiming that Reshammiya is her favourite singer.
Apart for him, she said, "I like Palak Muchhal, because I have met her and she is such a beautiful person. I admire her for what she does. She sings and helps so many kids (performs stage shows in India and abroad to raise funds for children who need financial assistance for medical treatment of heart disease). That's so beautiful, and that is an example for me. Also, she has helped me with the Indian music from the beginning and I am grateful for that."
Asked who she thought was the better singer — Salman Khan or her, Vantur said, "Salman is a better singer because he puts in so much passion and attitude."
Vantur also professed her love for Bollywood music, and naturally led to the question of which actress she would like to lend her voice to. "I don't know which actor would like to have my voice,” she laughed. “It's up to them. I like Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra… There are so many actually."
Vantur also spoke about her love for dancing — "I have hosted Dancing with the Stars (the international version of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa) for eight years… I love dancing” — but claimed she had no intention of transitioning to acting. At least not right away.
"I love music, so I sang a song. I have no plans to pursue a career in films,” she said. “I tried acting in Romania. I was in a play, which had music, dance and acting. It was a beautiful experience, but I am not thinking of making a career in acting."
For the moment — apart from the occasional song — Vantur is focussed on learning Hindi. “It’s not easy for me,” she said. (But) there are people who are trying to help me out, and I hope the next time we meet I will be able to speak in Hindi."