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'I owe a lot to Neil Nitin Mukesh'

Last updated on: June 18, 2013 19:11 IST

Image: Puja Gupta in Shortcut Romeo
Patcy N in Mumbai
Former Miss India Universe Puja Gupta, who was last seen in Go Goa Gone, will be seen in this week's release Shortcut Romeo, co-starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and Ameesha Patel.

Shortcut Romeo is a remake of the Tamil film Thiruttu Payale, and both films have been directed by Susi Ganesh. 

Puja talks to Patcy N about the film, and tells us why she owes a lot to Neil Nitin Mukesh.

What is your character in the film like?

My character, Sherry, is Neil Nitin Mukesh's love interest in the film. The title Shortcut Romeo refers to Neil, who is playing this guy who takes shortcuts in life. He hurts lots of people and takes wrong turns.

He meets Sherry in Masai Mara (in Kenya) and his life changes.

Your character Sherry cheats on him?

When you watch the film, you will realise why I am cheating him. There is a reason for it. I can't reveal my second identity in the film where I am a simple girl.

'We shot a song Khali Salaam in a hot air balloon'

Image: Puja Gupta and Neil Nitin Mukesh in Shortcut Romeo
Tell us about shooting in Kenya.
Masai Mara was lovely and beautiful. This is the first Hindi film that is shot there. At the wildlife sanctuary, you see lions and other animals. We shot them for the film.
We shot a song Khali Salaam in a hot air balloon. We had to get up at 4 am. Once we got in the balloon, we realised that we didn't know where it would land! 

We were shooting in this vast jungle with wild animals, and we always had one gun man with us. Once, some really mad elephants, quite grumpy early in the morning, started marching towards our balloon which was out of gas and had landed just a few feet from the elephants. 

I was wearing a really short dress and couldn't climb out of the balloon, so Neil just picked me up and threw me out of the balloon and told me to run for my life. We ran towards our trucks. 

It was tough but we had lots of fun shooting in the jungles. Minus the heat, it was a lot of fun.
This is your third film since the Miss Universe contest in 2007. You started with F.A.L.T.U in 2011, then there was no release in 2012, and this year you have two releases, Go Goa Gone and Shortcut Romeo. Why the delay?
There is only a two-year gap. I was very busy after F.A.L.T.U released, I signed two movies and did both simultaneously.
In fact, three months after I finished F.A.L.T.U, I signed both the other films. Go Goa Gone was a challenge. It was a zombie film and we had to shoot in Mauritius. Much time was taken getting permission to shoot on location. It took 16 months to complete Go Goa Gone.
Meanwhile, I started shooting for this film. In a way, it's good for me because the films are releasing back to back.

'It was Neil who got me the role'

Image: Puja Gupta and Neil Nitin Mukesh in Shortcut Romeo
What was it like working with Neil Nitin Mukesh?
As I am playing his love interest, I have lots of scenes with him. It was fantastic working with him.
It was Neil who got me the role. He knows me since F.A.L.T.U. He is the one who told Susiji about me.  

Susi sir was looking for someone who is not so well known; he wanted to introduce a new face.
That's why Neil says this should be my debut film because in this film I am a proper heroine and there is a lot of scope to perform. I owe a lot to Neil.
How did Neil get to know you?
Neil saw F.A.L.T.U and really liked my scenes. He messaged me that he really liked my screen presence and would like to work with me one day. He remembered me and recommended my name to Susi sir. I am also a former Miss India so it is easy for people recollect my name.

'Ameesha spoilt me with gifts'

Image: Puja Gupta, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Ameesha Patel in the poster of Shortcut Romeo
What was working with Susi Ganesh like?
Neil took care of Susi sir's language problem. Whenever Susi sir had a problem explaining anything to me, Neil would help me out and explain it to me in proper Hindi. But I would understand most of the time what Susi sir wanted me to do.

Susi sir is very patient. It is fantastic working with him. I am fairly new in the industry and have no acting background. It took me a lot of time to say a couple of dialogues. He never lost his cool. He has given lots of hits; he knows his work well.

Ameesha Patel is such an experienced actress. Did you have problems shooting with her?
She is a lovely person and spoilt me with gifts. When we were on our way to Cannes, at the airport she got me a big Victoria's Secret pink case. She is really a sweetheart.

She has her own production house and since she has been in the industry for a decade now, I feel very secure around her. She tells me how to do a scene when I am stuck or whenever she feels the need. I have learnt a lot from her.

'I had to give around 12 takes for the scene'

Image: Puja Gupta in Shortcut Romeo
What was the most difficult thing to do in this film?
For me, the most difficult thing was when I was shooting the song Khali Salaam. It was just me and Neil on a boat. We were in the centre of a lake and totally alone and we couldn't see anything. 

Apparently, it was a hippo lake and hippos are territorial animals. People were shouting for us to get out of the lake. I was so scared.
Were you stuck doing any scene?
Yes, I had to do a scene in an auto rickshaw and we shot that in Lokhandwala market. 

There was a crowd, yelling at Neil. I had to say a big dialogue plus every time the auto started it made so much noise I couldn't concentrate. 

I had to give around 12 takes for the scene. Thankfully, Neil and Susi sir did not lose their cool.