Of the many things that former Miss Universe Lara Dutta can do, few would have known that she has great comic timing. As the English translator Emily who is hired to facilitate better communication between Raftaar Singh (Akshay Kumar) and Sara (Amy Jackson) in Singh is Bliing, Dutta, 37, left audiences laughing in their seats with her vivacious performance. It was co-star and friend Akshay Kumar, who convinced her to return to the big screen after a break of two years, which were spent raising Saira, her daughter with husband, tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi.
With a three year-old child now in her life, Dutta says her priorities have changed. “I work lesser hours than I did before,” she says seated at a suite in the Westin Hotel in Goregaon in Mumbai. “I am selective about what I give my time to. If it is going to be time away from her, it has to be worth it.” Being the well-being advocate of Westin Hotels and Resorts is one such role that is worth it because it covers two aspects that Dutta has been passionate about- fitness and wellness. Yoga is a discipline that she swears by. Dutta was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she produced a video in which she performed asanas and released the footage as a DVD titled PreNatal Yoga.
“It was a love affair that started 15 years ago because I found that yoga worked for me more mentally,” says Dutta, who took it up to nurse a knee injury. “I have cured my ailments several times purely by breathing exercises and no medication.” She is especially proud and happy of the fact that she introduced her husband to the many benefits of yoga. “He loves it now,” she says. “As an athlete, he has found that it helps him so much with injuries; strengthening the body and flexibility.”
Dutta still works out six days a week, doing a combination of functional and circuit training like CrossFit and TRX, practices yoga and also runs thrice a week; you can see her on the roads of Pali Hill in Bandra. The latter she is especially proud of, as she mentions how she averages 12 km on a run. “It was something that I wasn’t able to do before,” says Dutta. “I was an athlete but not a sprinter. One of my dreams was to have the stamina to run for a longer period of time. I built it slowly. Today, running is sacrosanct for me. It clears my head,” she says. But staying in shape, she admits, is more challenging than ever before. “I am older so I work harder now than I have done before,” says Dutta. It helps that she loves working out. “It is a large part of who I am. It is not a chore that I have to tick off on my list.”
In addition to running on roads, there is also the running behind her daughter that she is busy with and enjoys. “I do want her to travel with me as much as possible,” says Dutta. “I also need to know the environment is open enough (for her) to come along and is also enriching for her. These are the formative years of her life, the most important time for her to discover her world.” Motherhood has changed things for former Miss Universe. For the better, she happily says. She now eats dinner as early as 7pm. If she is hungry thereafter, she will have a cup of green tea or “even some dark chocolate”. It is obvious that family is priority now but work is not far behind.
Dutta will be seen next year in supporting roles in Fitoor, starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif, and the biopic on Mohammad Azharuddin. She will also produce two films which will go on the floors in 2016. “It is great time for me in the show business,” she says. “There is nothing left to prove. I am just having fun.”