Rajul Hegde in Mumbai
Pakistani actress Sara Loren's first brush with Bollywood wasn't a good one. Her debut film Kajraare, opposite Himesh Reshammiya and directed by Pooja Bhatt, did not see a proper release in 2010, and sank immediately. Her name had been Mona Lizza then.
Now, she has changed her name, and got herself a brand new film albeit in the same production house, and became a part of a successful franchise called Murder.
Sara plays a pivotal role in Murder 3, co-starring Randeep Hooda and Aditi Rao Hydari.
She talks to Rajul Hegde about herself, her second innings in Hindi films and the importance of sensuous lovemaking scenes in films.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Kuwait; my father is from Rajasthan and mother from Lahore (Pakistan). It was a cross-border marriage. They faced a lot of problems but my Granny got them married.
I went to Pakistan as a teenager when my father died and took up a career in TV and films to support my family.
'According to numerology, my name was not suitable for work in the industry'
How did you come to Mumbai?
I had no plans to come to Mumbai. But once I came here, I loved the life. There's nothing like Bollywood; everyone wants to come here.
I have a strong connection with India and Pakistan because of my parents. Mumbai is a multicultural city. Every month there is some festival or other and it's fun to live in Mumbai.
It is much easier for me to live here because I have lived in the Middle East. I have done a little bit of theatre, films, TV and modelling.
Javed Sheikh (the actor) sent my picture to Pooja Bhatt. She was looking for a Pakistani actress and that's how I did Kajraare. I troubled Pooja a lot then and she had to really work on me, as I was immature.
The good thing about me is I am a director's actor, and that becomes easier for the director as well.
What made you change your name from Mona Lizza to Sara Loren?
My agency told me that according to numerology my name was not suitable for work in the industry. So I decided to change it to Sara.
'Officially, I think Murder 3 will be my debut film'
How did Murder 3 come to you?
You don't plan certain things, it just happens. Kajraare had release issues and it could not be released in a big way. Officially, I think Murder 3 will be my debut film.
I feel lucky to be part of a Bhatts' film. They had seen me in Kajraare and signed me through my company.
Murder 3 has a striking title and it's a bigger franchise so there are a lot of expectations.
What is your role in the film?
My character Nisha (a lounge waitress) is a confident girl. She falls in love with Vikram (played by Randeep Hooda) and later goes through some mysterious things.
Director Vishesh (Bhatt) knew exactly how he wanted to show my character. I just followed his instructions. Randeep was also of great help on the sets and we were comfortable shooting with each other.
'Girls of today's generation are bold'
There's a lot of explicit scenes in the film. How comfortable were you doing them?
I was born and brought up in the Middle East, lived in London and have travelled to a few other countries. Girls of today's generation are bold and acting is a serious business.
Boldness in films does not bother me as long as the role is believable. You believe in and start living your character and it becomes easy.
The professional comfort level is important when you do such bold scenes. Sensuous scenes in films are 'in' now. People expect a few lovemaking or sensuous scenes from certain kinds of films.
The Bhatts have tastefully and aesthetically shot all this in their films. As a woman, it depends on how you want to carry yourself.
People shouldn't get personal about my professional work. My work demands what I am doing in the film. To make a career in Bollywood, you need to play all sorts of roles.
'There are no issues between Aditi Rao Hydari and me'
Apparently you and Aditi (Rao Hydari, her Murder 3 costar) didn't get along...
We didn't meet much as we didn't have many scenes together. There is no issue between us. Once, when the food on the sets was over, I even gave away my portion so that Aditi could eat.
In the film, our characters are not friends. Maybe people misread our onscreen tension.
I am very happy that I worked with Aditi and now we are friends.
'You need excitement in life and films'
Which is your next film in Pakistan?
I am doing a film titled Anjuman. Sunidhi (Chauhan) has sung two songs for the film. It's a typical Pakistani film. I play Anjuman in the film, but I have changed a few things in the film.
I have tried to go a little bold and kept my back open in the film. It's good to be sensuous. You need excitement in life and films. The film is set for a March release.
What next after Murder 3?
I have signed a three-film deal with the Bhatts.