by Devansh Patel
With a star on the Bollywood Walk of Fame (we wish), kilos of awards and rewards on her mantelpiece, eight strong years of her relationship with John Abraham, she's been a mainstay on the 'most beautiful' lists for almost a decade now and a whole host of film projects ahead of her, life is good right now for Bipasha Basu. We also researched about the bong babe's 'thriller' fascination. Right from her debut mystery film Ajnabee to the present Race and to her newest next Aa Dekhe Zara, Basu has a knack to turn the thrills into chills. So before we got to talk to her over a specially arranged interview, Bips decided to add some frills too - It took us fifteen text messages, a few phone calls and two days to get through to her. But what added the thrill to our conversation was that the dusky damsel apologised on making us a bit distressed, not that we wished her to do, but she sweetly did making us feel mortified. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist gets up close and personal with the exuberant, fervent and coherent actress Bipasha Basu where she unlocks the mystery about the high point in her career, her latest film Aa Dekhe Zara, co-star Neil Nitin Mukesh, director Jehangir Surti, boy friend John Abraham, her gruelling fitness regime, her best captured moment on the digi cam and why the Indian Film Industry desperately requires a casting director.
To be blessed with both good looks and talent is one thing and to be blessed with a beautiful figure is another. What sort of gruelling work-outs has the bong bombshell tried and tested in Aa Dekhe Zara?
(laughs) There isn't anything special. I've been following a very healthy way of living for the last five years. I got into working out right from No Entry. Everything takes time. You can't get fit in just two months. So I guess, with each passing year I've passed through different levels of fitness. Now I am in this phase where I am enjoying all sorts of activities. It could be weight training, cardio, yoga, etc. I try a bit of everything and mixing it up depending on the type of roles I play. For certain roles, you could be a bit curvaceous, sometimes you need to be a little more athletic and depending on that, I change my mode of training.
Ajnabee, Raaz, Jism, Dhoom 2, Omkara, Race and now Aa Dekhe Zara. What's this attraction to thrillers Bips?
Well, I have to thank Ajnabee. I never used to watch Hindi films while I was modelling, and because my first film being a thriller, it got me the much acclaimed fame, and there I was in the world of acting. I somewhat have this special love for thrillers and I love watching them. It's great to be a part of so many thrillers I've worked in.
Do you think the mousey-girl-next-door type roles are passée, out, I mean?
Mousey is a little difficult for me to play anyway (laughs) If I did play, I could be a very strange mousey girl. I can't be little because I am tall (laughs). Jokes apart, A girl-next-door role is definitely not passée. It has been an essential crux of quintessential Bollywood for years, and yes, there is a scope for such roles still but being stylist and glamorous has surely taken over, and that in turn is because the actresses are too glamorous now-a-days.
This is going to be Neil Nitin Mukesh's first theatrical release in the U.K and with you adding the thrills and chills, it just adds on to it. Are you more anxious like him?
I am never really anxious about any of my films because I enjoy doing them and I just leave it. Then it's the audiences call. I would want them to like the film but sometimes things don't go your way. Even if they don't like my film, I don't get disappointed and I move on. So anxiousness I don't have. I am happy because it is yet another film which is different and fun and I enjoy it even more when I work with new talents like Neil. I am getting to work with so many kinds of heroes and he is definitely a new kind. It was interesting.
So how are the singing abilities of this 'new kind' hero Neil?
(laughs) Very good, and better than mine for sure. Neil tried his level best for me to sing too but I told him that no one is going to listen to my songs if I sing. So let's just spare our film with my voice for singing. I have no aptitude for it. But people have really liked the fresh take on Aa Dekhe Zara songs.
ADZ – The rising, the band was launched for the film. It takes us back to the band which Pritam launched for Anurag Basu's film Life In a Metro. Don't you think these bands should not be restricted to one film alone?
Absolutely right. But they are getting a great platform to showcase their talent by providing music to the film and at the same time, we did the big launch to promote the band. The band is tremendously talented and to hear them live was like something else. I think, a band with the films music together is a great association for each of them. You cannot just tie them down to one film. Their work should grow, not stop.
Any research went into playing a DJ?
I have no idea about DJ's except the fact that they play great music and entertain a lot of people. The DJ part is the back story of the film and it's just one song 'Rock the Party' where we show a little bit of DJ-ing. When you give a profession to a character and a back story, it helps in a way to perceive the character and how he or she would look like or how they would behave. My role is of an independent girl living in Kolkata who aspires to be a singer and she is into music all day. She is a tom boy sorts, she speaks very firmly, she has got a great sense of humour, she has an indigo coloured hair, a tattoo, wears funky pants and cargo's throughout. It helps to style the character differently.
What's the best moment you've captured on your digi cam so far?
It was 30th of July 2008 when my niece, Nia, was born. I was in the gymnasium when my mother called informing me that the baby was delivered. I rushed back and there she was. A picture perfect moment.
Has there been a high point so far that you look back on and think that where your career has changed direction?
Honestly, I've never really thought so much, neither have I planned right from day one where my career will lead me to. For a person who didn't want to be an actor, then, getting into it full time as a profession, liking the work I do, everything has been different you know. At various point of time, my first film Ajnabee, then Raaz, then people telling me don't do a Jism and still doing it, going into No Entry to do a full on commercial masala entertainer, then Corporate, Dhoom 2, Race, Bachna Ae Haseeno, I think the high points have been many and I've enjoyed every bit of it. No matter what I do, even the smallest of the roles have got me some kind of appreciation, and I thank my audiences for that.
Brief us through the debutant director, Jehangir Surti.
(laughs) He is a very shy, sweet and a timid kind of a guy making this thriller. We always had to shake him up and say, “Jehangir you have to start cracking the whip and sometimes scream and shout on the sets”. So I did a little bit of Jehangir's work for the first two weeks (laughs). I was the one cracking the whip because I was the only seasoned person on the set and everyone else was relatively a new comer. They were all really scared of me and that got them into a little bit of discipline. I had to act off screen too.
They say that if the casting of the film is right, you've won half your battle. Casting directors don't exist in Bollywood. Do you think they should?
You're right. We still don't have casting directors in Bollywood. I wish we had casting directors and our business was well organised and functioning that way. But the kind of stories we make don't require a casting director. We make fun fantasies and sell them all the time, and these are the kind of films accepted widely as Bollywood films. Definitely, we are having a change and are making different films but the numbers are very few. A casting director is a must for our movies now because we are experimenting so much with our stories. It's time for a change.
Is it getting easier to juggle being an A list actor who is still single?
I will be single till I get married (laughs) but at the same time I've been in a relationship with John since eight years. It feels like me and John have been a couple for eight years, all going pretty and strong. I'm loving every bit of our relationship which we are juggling since almost a decade now.