LARA DUTTA ZONE Your Source For The Actress
LDZ
“Happily Ever After…”

Actor, Fitness Model, Designer and Author – Lara Dutta’s many roles pale in comparison to her latest – wife.

The sun is at its zenith on this hot Sunday afternoon. It’s so bright, it’s impossible to look directly at the whitewashed walls against which Lara Dutta casually leans, poised in six inch heels. She’s in super-tight, white skinny jeans, and a cobalt blue chequered shirt, knotted at the waist, her tan midriff the only relief against the bleached setting. An occasional movement throws a spark in our direction; as she turns for Chothia’s camera, the M&M-sized diamond on her finger blinds us. It’s on everyone’s mind. And we’re all trying very hard to act nonchalant about it.

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It’s 33-year-old Dutta’s first shoot after her wedding to tennis ace and Padma Shri awardee Mahesh Bhupathi, a much speculated and written about affair, a celebrity coupling the country hasn’t witnessed in a long time. The wedding in Goa, spread over four days, was an elaborate affair that almost successfully managed to evade the press. Teasing reports trickled through – the bride wore Elie Saab, Bollywood was absent, the couple exchanged vows punning on each other’s professions, Dutta almost broke down at the altar. The couple released a batch of pictures after the wedding, and that was it.

Two months later, Dutta isn’t exactly tight-lipped or evasive about the wedding. It’s just clear that the pictures are all that she’s going to make public. Yes, she wore Elie Saab. No, she didn’t have any bridezilla moments. Except perhaps when she was choosing flowers. It was also “a huge party” which resulted in guests going into “complete withdrawal. The actually want us to do one every year.”

In an age where even bathroom breaks are public knowledge on social network sites, we can’t help but respect her for keeping things private. Oh, and she adds, “I lost my engagement ring on the day of the wedding. I almost have a heart attack and I was in tears. He was so calm and kept saying, ‘I’m sure it’s here somewhere.’” She stops to take a spoonful of poha. “I think as a woman, there’s a lot more drama in your life. He’s just a very quiet, solid person in my life.”

The ‘he’ is of course Bhupathi, ring-giver, tennis champion, the man who, Dutta has claimed in almost every interview, “grounds her.” The word ‘husband’ rolls off easily when she talks.

“My husband just won’t let me got a second tattoo.”

“It’s very difficult to watch a person, that you love, play [tennis]. It’s great seeing Rafael and Federer – I don’t really cares who wins [she’s not a massive tennis fan]; but watching your husband play is nerve wracking. I’m going to have ulcers before I’m 35.”

She hasn’t yet change her name, although there are reports and profiles calling her Lara Dutta Bhupathi. “But of course everyone knows I’m married now. On [a recent] flight my boarding card read Mrs Lara Dutta,” she says with a laugh.

Bhupathi and Dutta first met professionally when his company, the celebrity, sport and event management agency Globosport started handling Dutta’s endorsement deals. “The thing about Mahesh, and I’ve always said to him, is that he is exactly the same person, no matter what the situation is, who the other person is. He can meet the PM of a country or the watchman outside my home, it’s the same. Nothing ruffles him and I respect that about him,” she says. The couple had appeared recently on ‘Koffee with Karan’ and failed to pique Johar’s penchant for gossip. True they both broke away from high profile relationships (Dutta from model Kelly Dorjee and later Dino Morea, and Bhupathi divorced his wife of seven years, Shvetha Jaishankar), but the break-ups happened long before Dutta and Bhupathi met. And despite their high-octane careers, they appear boringly normal, albeit a couple very much in love; and despite Johar’s needling their K-Jo appearance was a trademark scandal-less one.

The big ring aside, it’s the careers that are grabbing headlines. Dutta had stellar beginnings, Miss Universe, 2000, and with it launched her acting career with ‘Andaaz’ in 2003. Of the 30 odd films to her credit, there have been more disappointments in the box office than hits. ‘Masti’ (2004), ‘No Entry’ (2005), ‘Partner’ (2007) and ‘Housefull’ (2010) proved her acting chops. Dutta turned producer last year and her first film, ‘Challo Dilli’ starring Vinay Pathak and her, a mid-budget road trip flick, released last month. “It’s a natural transition for an actor,” she says of her new role. “I think I’m one of the first females in the business.” She also has a series of fitness DVDs under her belt, called HEAL (Health Exercise and Longevity), that combines cardio workouts with yoga to create holistic lifestyles for the general public to follow. She’s recently turned shoe designer, designing a capsule collection for Catwalk shoes. And possibly, it the not-too-distant future, author. Her official website hosts travel essays written by her, and lists reading and writing as some of her interests. “I do write a lot,” she says. “It started off when I was writing verses for my nieces while I was on shoots. On day, I’ll do something with all that I’ve written.”

gr2Dutta arrives for the Grazia shoot dot on time, post a 27-hour flight. There are no signs of jet lag as she casually chats in jeans and a Tee, about her four dogs; her rose and Maori tribal tattoo on her right ankle (it symbolizes fragility and strength to commemorate how she overcome her fear of water to learn to swim for ‘Blue’ and become a certified diver); her shock at having bought a day bed at Bungalow 8 when she had actually just gone in to pick up some bathroom accessories; missing seeing the Northern Lights while flying over the Arctic Circle. She still hasn’t had time for a honeymoon. The Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open tournament was a day after the wedding and Dutta started shooting for ‘Don 2’, had a launch of ‘Chalo Dilli’, and prepped for the launch of her shoe line soon after that. “We will go eventually, but between both our schedules, it’s going to be tough,” she says unperturbed. “We aren’t in that much of a hurry, and the priority right now is the possibility to see each other.”

What first strikes people who meet Dutta in her self-assurance. There are distracted moments, especially when she goes Tarzan on us, and starts yodeling in the middle of shoots. She has had a 27 hour flight, and we are fighting a 40 degree heat that shows no sign of abating, so we don’t raise eyebrows. Her poise otherwise makes us want to sit up straighter and start enunciating clearer. She speaks in a precise manner and very fast. As the youngest of two much older sisters, Dutta grew up fiercely independent. “My father (a retired wing commander in the Indian Air Force) had his first heart attack in 1981, and we moved quite a lot. I think a life like that brings its share of challenges. By the time I came around, my mother was so tired, she was pretty much like, entertain yourself. Which is probably where my love for acting comes from. I literally put on my own plays, played every character, dressed up and did my own make-up since I was five years old. I sat in front of the mirror and spoke to myself in multiple voices. So I think everything in life adds up somewhere.”

In Dutta’s case, it possibly does. Life’s been a set of fortunate circumstances (her sister send off her pictures for the ‘Gladrags’ beauty contest, without her knowledge) by her own admittance. 2011 has opened with new business ventures and a pending honeymoon. And of course the big far, fairy wedding. “Marriage is,” she pauses, “it’s relaxed me in many more ways than I imagined. I’m busier than ever before, but at the same time I’m sorted. I think when you know for sure you’ve got somebody who’s there as a support system, who’s watching your back, it helps you to take life a little easier.” It’s Dutta’s moment in the sun, and she’s making the most of it.

© 2013 Copyright by Lara Dutta Zone
Source: Grazia, May 2011

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