Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bipasha Basu

“I’m quite unaffected by failures”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the March 16, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)

She’s so beautiful, and of course, so sexy, that most people don’t think of her beyond that. And no, we can’t blame them, because Bipasha Basu is, certainly, hotness personifying! But there lies a lot more beneath her poised and glamourous avatar. She’s simple, sweet, sensitive and emotional, just like any normal girl, yet she puts up a tough exterior. She’s a complete child at heart who’s extremely mischievous and that’s quite a contrast from what most people would perceive her to be. All this, I explore about Bipasha, through my rendezvous with the lady, where she speaks about her upcoming film ‘Aatma’. She also talks about being in the industry, her journey, success, failure and, more. Here we have the lovely Bipasha Basu being herself! 

Seemingly, you’re a pro at horror films now…
I said this as a joke, somebody took it very seriously. I said I’m going to set up a production house and will only produce supernatural and horror films and then, I’m going to soon be like the specialist on board for all horror films in India. No, but jokes apart, when you see both the films, ‘Raaz 3’ and ‘Aatma’, and if you put yourself in my shoes, as a Hindi cinema heroine, you’ll understand why I did these films. Firstly, these films are highly entertaining, great screenplay, it’s a new-age genre, because horror has not been tapped in India much and then it’s the roles. It’s these roles which are so fabulous. They’re written out so well. These are performance roles. If you see Shanaya, she’s this evil person, and Maya is like 360 degree different from Shanaya. Both were challenging roles. Shanaya was evil, and she was evil without any reason. She was just born evil right from frame one to frame end. Shanaya was all dark, there was no light in her. I think that was the challenge for me; to play something so dark. And I think the challenge went off very well. Everybody who saw the film came out saying that I’ve done a fabulous job. Especially, if people like such a dark character that means your job is done. I don’t think anyone can be like that. It’s a crazy character.

While ‘Aatma’ does look different from your previous release, ‘Raaz 3’, didn’t you have any apprehensions about doing two back-to-back horror films?
You get these kind of roles once in a lifetime. You know, the opportunities for women are so limited in Hindi cinema; it’s mostly about looking good, being stylish and singing some pretty songs. So, once in a while when you get roles like these, why won’t you do it? So what if the horror is genre. Horror I think, worldwide, from Alfred Hitchcock, to Sam Raimi, to Steven Spielberg, just name them, and everyone has done horror and their films have been cult classics when they’ve touched that genre. In India, horror is being slowly fed to the audiences, and they’re definitely accepting it well. It’s come to a credible platform now. Earlier, there were B and C grade horror films, so that’s why I think people were not looking into it much. But it’s the most untapped genre, because how many comedy films, or how many 80’s masala movies will we have? You obviously want something new. This is also creatively, for a director and an actor, very fascinating. Because when you’re creating something that is unknown, which doesn’t have any guidelines, nothing bars you. It’s on you how are you going to project fear. Because, comedy, action, romance, all these genres have guidelines, that ‘aisa hi hota hai, but, unknown space mein kuch bhi ho sakta hai’, It’s the creative call of the director as to how he projects fear. So, I’ve done, back-to-back horror films with two directors, Vikram Bhatt and Suparn Verma, and both have their individualistic take on fear. I’m the same actress, but you’ll never feel like I’m the same actress in both the films. Everything is different – visual appeal and the shot-taking, the way the fear is put in, the human drama is very different, the characters are different. It’s a completely different film, so for me, it just made sense to do it.

Tell us your experience of working on ‘Aatma’
Suparn and me are mad. If you see us, we’re like physically mad also. We hit each other. I told him, next time if he speaks too much, I’ll bite his head, his ‘takloo’. He’s like, ‘she’s a ferocious crazy actress’. We’re quite insane on set also. When there were emotional scenes, I used to tell Suparn, ‘today you will not speak. If you speak, I’m not doing this shot.’ Because he’s a very happy soul, he has this very happy energy. And he’s so hyper. I used to think I’m hyper, so when there are two hyper people on set you can imagine! We make people mad together. Nawaz is the calm one. He was all ‘shaant’. He used to only laugh at both of us. We always say retarded things. He would be like laughing. Because, he can’t believe, half the times that it’s me talking. He came with a pre-concieved image of mine but we did some really good work together. He’s very sweet. He’s a gentleman. And he’s playing a fierce character, so we had to have that kind of physicality where he shouldn’t be intimidated by me or anything. In any case, I’m not very intimidating when I work, except that when people around me don’t want to work, then I get very angry, and my anger is like visible, you see it on my face, when things are not happening, the way they should be. My anger is like five-second anger, but it’s out, and I forget about it. I don’t keep anything inside.

Tags like ‘hot’, ‘sexy’ and ‘glamourous’ are associated with you, hence people might sometimes overlook the fact that you’re a good actor. Is that why you’re now being conscious about doing roles that are more performance-oriented? 
I’m just looking to do roles with more meat, but, I’ve not done anything to show anyone anything. The fact that I’ve been here for 12 years, doing well for myself, speaks a lot. Just a beautiful face cannot be here for 12 years. It does not. I’m that intelligent to understand it. And if I look back, the kind of films I’ve done, some have been credible, some have been disgusting, some have been average, some are like I look really good, so it’s been a continuous phase. But, after every few films, there has always been a film where people have said, ‘Oh she was really good!’ So, after a point of time, you want to do a challenging role, but, thankfully, I never got flak in any of my films. Even in my worse films, I don’t know, I guess critics are nice to me. I smooth sail through it. I’m very lucky. I’ve always been safe with that. I think the audience connect is very strong, that’s why I’ve been here for so long.

12 years in the industry…how have they been?  
When you see my filmography of so many years, you’ll see that I started out very young, I had no idea what I was doing; I didn’t even want to be an actor. So, from there, when you start learning the business, or you start getting attached to a business, there’s a lot that I’ve learned. And I’ve also made a lot of mistakes, which has kind of taught me more. I think I’m one of those most foolish actresses, who’s actually, pushed away a lot of opportunities coming her way, in her prime, in the peak of my career, for various different priorities in my life, at that point of time. Four years back I was almost like shutting shop. I started saying no to offers. Everyone in the business knows that. But, it was a personal call. It’s not like anybody put a gun on my head, I did it myself. So, you learn from it, and post that I realised that if I don’t do this, what am I going to do? This is what I love doing. When you understand your love and affection towards the business you’re a part of, you kind of bounce back. But I think it was a very good learning phase for me, because it got me even more involved in films. Today, I think, because of the kind of work that I have done, there’s some credibility, where even though, I’m a female actress, ideas come to me, concepts come to me. If I say yes, then it develops into a film. So, that itself is a big deal in a hero-centric business. It’s just a germ, not a full-bound script. If I like it, then it’s developed further. Then I work on it, I work with my director in every possible phase, till the time we shoot it, till the post-production, and till the promotions. So, I think I’m a way more involved actress now.

So, it’s been a whole lot of learning experience for you… 
Yes totally! And, it’s wonderful. This business just makes you such a wholesome person. It tests you. It tests the strength of the human being that you are. It’s a very vulnerable profession because one day you’re called like this hottest thing in town, and in the next few months, you’re shattered and you’re thrown down by the same media. It tests your balance, it tests your vulnerabilities. It tests your strengths. And it all happens at a very early age, so, it strengthens you somewhere.

Do failures still affect you?
I’m quite unaffected by failures. And it’s not just now, but it’s always been like that. I’ve had that attitude. You know, what has helped me be the calm person that I am…though, I’m not really calm, I’m really hyper. But, what has helped me is that I’m just in my own world. I’ve always been in my own world in this business. A lot of people tell me all the time, ‘you’re not cut out for this business’. But my answer to them is, ‘if I’m here for so long, how can I not be cut out for this business!’ It’s just that I’m unaffected by success too. Nothing has really changed in my life, other than the fact that I live in a bigger house, and I can provide a lot more luxury for myself and for my family. Yes, the only thing is that people have a lot of love for me. A lot of selfless love; people who don’t even know me, love me. So, for me, I want to make movies right now which are going to be watched, and which from the business point of view, make everyone happy. But I’m not that actor, who’s dying for all the accolades. For me, I want to be a part of this business and make good films and have interesting roles. That’s it. Nothing more than that!

Most actors try and relate to every character. But if you have to play a character like Shanaya of ‘Raaz 3’, which
is a far cry from yourself, how do you go about it?

That’s why ‘Raaz 3’ was the toughest for me; because I had no benchmark. Or I didn’t even know a human being who is like that. So, there was no point of reference. And there is nothing so evil in me that I could relate to the character. But you know, it kind of pushes you to that level when you’ve accepted it. I really have to say, that particular film got me in touch with some kind of insecurities that I had in life. I used to think that I’m the most secure person, because I’m not involved in anybody’s life. Most of the times, I’m in my own world. I do my own thing. But it made me feel that I’m quite fragile. I’m quite vulnerable. And it made me think, that as much as I say that this profession is not everything for me, my life is a bigger thing for me, as much as I’ve said, that there’s more to Bipasha Basu than just being an actor, it made me think that, it is not really the truth. There were times you know, when my balance would tilt, and I think that this profession really means a lot to me, and I don’t want to lose it. And that’s why I’m so fierce in my performances now. That’s why my honesty is right there. That’s why in ‘Aatma’ I gave my heart and soul. And in ‘Aatma’ also I realised something! There are realisations when you play a character and don’t have a reference point. If you want to be honest, you tap something inside you. In ‘Aatma’ I’ve realised that there’s this beautiful maternal instinct that I have, and I’m blessed with it, and I never thought about it, until date. But when I had to spend, 8-10 hours with this kid I realised that; I’m good with kids but I’ve never spent more than 2 hours, even with my niece who’s my favourite person in the world. But to live with a child, 8 hours a day, a child that gets cranky, sleepy, nagging, hungry, happy, fun, it kind of opened a new relationship in my head. My mother keeps telling me, ‘When you’ll become a mother you’ll know how much you torture mothers’. I did get a glimpse of that. It’s nice to know that every woman in blessed with the motherly instinct, even if you don’t have a child of your own.

So, you’re good with kids.
I like kids. I can become like a kid with a kid. So, that’s how I bond with them. I don’t patronise them; I’m like a kid with a kid.

You’re this strong, independent, sexy woman who looks all tough, but, I think you’ve got a child-like heart…
I have this big child in me which is not growing up only (laughs). The thing is, I’m very emotional. I don’t think that there’s anything that I’m not emotional about. I’m not a very detached person. I get very attached to anything. I try to put up a very tough exterior, since I live alone right from the age of 16 in a city like this. So, I have kind of got this tough appearance, but I do it for a reason. I don’t want everyone to reach out and know the real me, and take advantage of that. So, that’s something that I have cultivated over the years. But if someone gets to know me, they get to know me. I’m not very difficult to read. I like myself, I like it this way (smiles).

What next after ‘Aatma’?
After that, it’s only ‘Creature’ for now. 

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