LARA DUTTA ZONE Your Source For The Actress
„Advantage Mahesh”

ffm2Sports and films make for a merry romance. Lara Dutta finds herself in the throes of it, writes Ashwini Deshmukh. Oh yes, the actress is also ready to direct her first film.

She’s just back from an outdoor schedule and is packing her valises for another. She’s off to Paris to model for Louis Vuitton at the Paris Fashion Week. “Once a model, always a model,” she says excitedly. Clearly Lara Dutta is bustling with activity. There are hazaar things to do before she can zoom off to Paris. She has to make arrangements for her dogs, look after minute things around her house, the works. For the time being, she’s packed off her three dogs to another part of the house so that we can chat in peace. She looks exquisite as she walks across in a short dress. Her caramelised skin glows sans make-up. After she’s done with her chores, she makes herself comfortable beside me. “The most difficult part of my career is being a single woman,” she sighs. “I live on my own. I don’t have the support system of parents who look after my finances, home and everything else so that I can just concentrate on bagging my next role or winning my next award.”

She grimaces, “Here, I have to figure out if the dogs have been fed, what is being cooked at home, whether the bills have been paid. Even after returning from a hectic schedule I have a home to deal with. But it’s good that I’m financially independent and can make my own decisions. But sometimes I think I don’t have enough time and energy to devote to my career the way I would like to. Yet in the given scenario, I’m extremely proud of what I have been able to achieve.” Ten minutes with Lara and I’m having a good time already. She’s sharp, she’s quick-witted and her laughter envelopes the room. She has reasons to smile. Right now, she’s got her fingers into many pies. She’s writing a script. Then she plans to direct a short film some time in May-June. “I need the monsoons to shoot the film. I have some actors in place but there’s time before I can spell things out,” she says guardedly and adds, “I’ve opened up Pandora’s box. I’m writing more than I intended to. But I’m loving it.”

We talk about her career and she admits that the time has come for her to do interesting stuff if not alternate cinema. Having said that, she’s quick to add that she loves commercial films. Says she, “I’ve been in the business for six years. I have done my fair share of commercial cinema because that is where the money lies.”

“I admire David Dhawan’s and Sajid Nadiadwala’s sensibilities and the way they mount their huge projects. But yes, I’ve also reached a stage where I need to do something different. Interesting cinema where you have people like Karan Johar taking a chance and making a ‘Wake Up Sid’ or Yash Raj Films making a ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year’. I’d like scripts which need not be all about clothes, hair and the look but with roles that are a little fleshed out in terms of character.” She adds, “I’ve never had anyone advise me on what to do and what not to. You grow gradually. I’ve been blessed with a lot but I need to work the actor’s muscle a little bit. I need to quench the creative fire and I will head that way soon.”

The fact is that despite having worked with top-notch actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, her career is fraying at the seams. Things aren’t shining like they should be. “It’s great having worked with Shah Rukh, Salman and Akshay. I’d love to work with Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan too. That gives me a reason to push myself. That’s what keeps me going. I’ve never signed three film deals or signed another film with a co-star just because the pair works. I don’t have any aspirations to be part of any numbers game. I’m happy with the way things have shaped up in the past three years since ‘Partner’, ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ and ‘Billu’. Even though ‘Billu’ didn’t go well at the box office, it did immense good for me as a person. Even ‘Blue’, which also didn’t do well, was a massive film to be associated with.”

She doesn’t deny the importance of a big banner. And confides that her choice of movies largely depends on the banner that approaches her. “It’s is no use doing a fantastic film made by someone who doesn’t have the money to promote it,” she reasons. “You can give a fantastic performance for a wonderful script. But it’s of no use if only two-and-a-half people are going to watch it.”

ffmShe continues, “I am a director’s actress. I’ve done a lot of films where the director knows what he wants but he’s happy with what you give him. I like working with directors who will push me beyond the capabilities I think I possess. I work best in that scenario. Today I want to work with a director who will help me grow as an actor.”

So we talk about her career. And then we talk about success. And how she views it. She has an interesting take on it. Says she, “I could compare myself with someone who always wanted to achieve what I have and is still struggling or I could measure myself with what Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan have. It really depends on which perspective you choose. I believe I’ve been extremely successful and blessed in life. But this is the problem with success. Once you’ve reached a certain level you wonder what it would be like to be more successful.”

Ask her whether hailing from a filmi background would helped her career and she shrugs her shoulders. “It has its pros and cons,” she points out. “Most of the time you’re able to get away with a lot more than someone with a lineage could. The sword is not always hanging over your head that you’ve got to live up to someone. The beauty queen title did give me a certain standing in the industry and made thing easier.”

Right now, the actress is cruising along. There’s quality work on her platter and she’s enjoying her life far too much to bother with the world. She smiles, “I’d rather spend my evening with my two nieces and three dogs that put on greasepaint and spend evening with people making empty conversation. I’m not a night person anyway. I don’t thrive on being seen and I find dressing up actually painful. I’m a bit of a home bird. I like my books, my movies. These are the things I am passionate about. I’d rather spend that time building and focusing on the kind of person I want to be.” However, Lara does make an exception when it comes to her social life. She adds, “There are a few people in the industry for whom I have high regard. Whenever they ask me, even if it is for a social obligation, I am always there because it’s their company that I truly enjoy. Like Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan are truly magnanimous. Shah Rukh is charming and witty. It’s never an empty conversation with them. I like talking to Salim (Khan) uncle too. We both have had great conversations while Salman did his own thing.”

She continues, “It’s a 24X7 business. You eat, sleep and drink movies. If you’re not shooting, you’re either dubbing or promoting your movie. And if not that then you’re networking and making the right connections. Somewhere I have to prioritise and decide what’s important to me. I don’t think being social will enhance my career. Though I wish I had a little bit more energy and time to push my career aggressively. But I’ve made my choices and I’m happy with the way things are. Whether it was a Yash Raj Film or a Shah Rukh Khan film, none of it come to me because I was schmoozing with them but because they felt I had the talent to pull it off. No filmmaker has come to me and said, ‘Please do this role as a favour to me’ as I have never gone up to anyone and asked for role as a favour. I will never do that.”

These days there is a certain glow on her face, the kind that is not a byproduct of box office success or any award. It’s definitely love. She recently put all speculations to end when she walked in hand in hand with tennis ace, Mahesh Bhupathi at the recent Filmfare Awards night. “I am with Mahesh. After one-and-a-half years, I’m saying that I’m not single. I am happy with my personal life right now. Whatever statement I had to make, I made with the two of us walking down the red carpet and I chose your awards function to do so. I’m very happy,” she laughs adding, “He’s a great person and a great player. But our relationship is too new to say much. I would want to wait for it to grow before I say anything.”

So is the relationship heading towards marriage? “I am not getting married and I haven’t thought of it at this point,” she smiles. “My parents are happy. They are chilled out and have given me the freedom to do what I want ever since I was 16. Their simple piece of advice has been, ‘If you mess up it’s your responsibility.’ So I have lived with that.”

Despite Mahesh’s presence in her life, she’s very much her own person. “I never hold anyone except myself responsible for my happiness. If you can’t make yourself happy, no one else can. Regardless of who is on what page of my life, I will always be my own person. Life’s had its ups and downs and it hasn’t been great at times but then that’s life.”

So where does that leave her association with her ex Dino Morea now? “I wish people well. They deserve the very best. We were friends for way too long. So I believe every equation will find its balance and settle down.”


(C) 2014 Lara Dutta Zone
Source: Filmfare, April 2010