(2006) Times Of India

Your sexy new avatar in Dhoom 2 is the talk of the town…

On one hand I had to tone-up for Dhoom 2, on the other end I had to put on weight for Guru. Putting on weight wasn’t difficult for me, as I have a voracious appetite. The tougher the schedule, the more hungry I get. Of course, a sweet tooth only makes in easier. For Dhoom 2, I had to shape-up like never before, and Mani sir just didn’t want that. And right after the Dhoom2 schedule I rushed for the shoot of Guru, in which I’m playing a very earthy, traditional girl. So every time I raise my hand I couldn’t flaunt my well-defined toned arms. The weight difference was more visible on Abhishek.

Abhishek, Hirithik, Uday, Bipasha – must have been a blast. Was AB is bratty self?

In the middle of all that serious hard work we all needed to break loose. I am not going to use the word ‘brat’ (for Abhishek) as I have been warned. Ha, ha! I think while working we actors need moments to exhale. When we’re shooting we’re all focused, so enjoying on the sets is like a release. Abhishek is visibly a whole lot of fun to work with, but after work all of us would break loose and have a blast.

Umrao Jaan opened to mixed reviews, but you got one unanimous compliment, you’ve looked better than ever before in the film…

All thanks to the make-up artist who makes me look so beautiful, Pradeep dada. He’s been with me from the beginning of my career. We actors lead crazy lives, we work round-the-clock, our immediate staff totally stands by us through tough days, like our own family. They travel with us everywhere, and when we’re looking and feeling tired and down they make us feel good. They make us feel the part. Though I always say that it goes beyond the make-up, costumes and accessories to feel or to emote a certain way.

But critics have been harsh on you and the film…

It goes with the territory. I can say this not only for myself, but my seniors, and actors around the world. In fact it hold true in the history of cinema. In anything creative criticism is bound to happen. It’s like with a sweet taste if there’s a little bit of khatta-meetha, we enjoy it more. A few tangy anecdotes just make it more palatable. Irrespective which parts of the world they come from, I don’t think any actor has ever been spared of criticism.

Didn’t the comparisons to the old version of the film exasperate you…

Well, that’s the way it’s been from the beginning. Comparisons were made from the time the film was announced. Since the day I joined movies people had already decided that I am model, a title winner and I can’t act. With the first film I was expecting such reactions. A lot of my filmmakers I worked with even blatantly said that to me. In fact, all those who saw Iruvar felt incredible promise, but that wasn’t a Hindi film. Then when Aur Pyar Ho Gaya released, the verdict of the film gave out the verdict on everything else. So I just took it in my stride. A lot of my directors said…accha hai, iske saath yeh hona zaroori hai, so she can experiment with different roles. You can’t always have that high, it plateaus and gets boring. You can’t always have people saying beautiful, beautiful! Wonderful, wonderful! There are highs and lows. That is life.

Of course, audiences and critics couldn’t get enough of comparing you to Rekha…

Frankly, I don’t think people have compared me to Rekhaji as much as I expected them to. Like I said before, it’s all in the territory. It happened with Devdas, we all went through and lived through comparisons. Those who didn’t see the old film enjoyed the new experience. The rest compared it. This is happening to all the current remakes. But I don’t put that as a blanket judgment.

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