Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not just a beauty queen…

Management Guru Arindam Chaudhuri Dean Business School IIPM

What is “Turning 30” all about? What drew you toward this role?
“Turning 30” is about a girl who is turning 30. It’s a story of her trials, her tribulations, her joys and sorrows as she approaches her 30th birthday. Being an achiever, she is doing very well professionally and her life is going very well, all according to the plan. Thirty is kind of a benchmark that most people set for themselves; say by 30 we want to achieve all these things in life. She has achieved everything, but suddenly everything falls apart as she turns 30.The director came to meet me and I liked the story, premise, treatment, vision of the director, and I always appreciate real life characters as I can identify with them. Also, the movie is produced by Prakash Jha. I have always admired his work.

Ups and downs are a part of life; can you tell us of a time when you faced a crisis in your life, when you felt that your career/life wasn’t heading anywhere? How did you deal with such a situation?
I don’t consider any phase to be a ‘down’ in my life. I can’t remember a single moment when I was depressed. Being a runner, I exercise regularly, so I’m always charged with endorphins! I don’t feel depressed and despondent at all! I am somebody, who doesn’t get bogged down by things. My attitude is of someone who is ready to get up and get going. I don’t spend time thinking about the downs in my life at all. That’s why I’d say that I haven’t faced a period of depression in my life.

You were very active in sports and public speaking when in school. How did the thought of participating in beauty pageants occur to you?
Yes, I was an athlete and was very active in debates as well. I figured out that these beauty pageants were something more than just beauty. I thought I should give it a shot because it would be another feather to have in my cap. So, that’s how it happened.

Is there any advice that you’d like to give to the girls who aspire to win beauty pageants?
I think beauty with substance matters the most. So, if you’re not inherently beautiful, you can make yourself beautiful with intelligence.

So you’d say intelligence matters in these contests?
I would like to believe so! (laughs)

Share some memorable moments of the time when you were one of the contestants.
Oh, you know at that time, my excitement was all about being there and winning goody bags and so many gifts each day. Everyday we would come back and find new things on our bed, like a new camera, a pair of jeans etc. For me, all of this, plus just being on national television was very exciting.

Usually films are the next progression after beauty pageants. Is that how films happened to you?
I did television for four years before coming into films. At some level, I think, all girls want to be movie stars and beauty queens. And I had the same thought! But consciously, I never thought about it whether in school or in college. I got an opportunity to be a part of television. After that I had offers of films as well, but there was nothing that pleased me. There were roles where I had to be the hero’s girlfriend with just 5-6 scenes and that didn’t interest me. So, I chose to use my communication skills to my advantage and used that in television before graduating to films.

You have always done character-based roles and not tried out-and-out commercial Bollywood films. Why is that?
There are a lot of factors actually. First, I believe that every film is made for a commercial purpose. Every film is made to earn money. The idea of releasing a film and showing it to the audience means it’s a commercial film. Yes, some films might have a different scope and different budget, and small budget movies are meant to cater to a different audience. More than the intelligence of the script and story, I think the treatment of the film is very important. Whatever genre you make a film in, it should be real. That’s what I look for. For instance, “Rajneeti” was a film with a massive budget, but it had a ‘real’ element to it. So realism in the film is very important to me.

Which character is closest to your heart or the one which you could relate to the most?
I think Naina, my character in “Turning 30” is very versatile, aggressive and professional. Any girl in today’s age who works, has a job, is struggling, can relate to this character. So, this character has a very high identifiable quotient.

Apart from films and television, you’ve been involved in a lot of adventure. One of that is the F1 racing experience. Tell us about that…
Well, the fact that I’ve been into adventure hasn’t been a secret. And when they were looking for somebody to represent India, my name came up. I ride bikes. It was so exciting to be driving a car, which goes faster than a plane when it’s taking off! I wasn’t scared at all. Recently, I raced in a track in Chennai. It was the Volkswagen Polo Cup. All this is very exciting.

If you had to choose between adventure sports and movies as a career option, which would you pick?
Well in India, to be honest, sports do not have much potential. Films definitely have a wider scope. And it’s easier to take that up as a profession! Both are very competitive where the rule of ‘survival of the fittest works’. But, I’d say films would be my choice.

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