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‘I love the sex symbol tag’

When did you first become aware of the male gaze?

Way back in junior school. You know how guys are.... They start looking at girls even when they are just out of their nappies or trolley toddlers. Obviously, women start noticing it pretty early in life.

Do you ever feel uncomfortable with the male gaze?

Depends on the man and on the way he looks. It makes a difference whether the man is sophisticated enough to understand my beauty and appreciate it or whether he is some sidey goon.

What is the first thing you look for in a man?

Eyes! The first thing that I look at is the man’s gaze from which I get an idea about what he would be.

And the first thing a man notices in you?

My eyes!

Do you feel men make too much of an issue about their woman’s virginity?

I haven’t come across men at least in our generation who have given too much importance to virginity. A lot of times I have heard of people who have encountered a virgin and been so scared (laughs).

Do you think men have the tendency to ask women about their past?

It depends. Some people are very inquisitive but someone who is confident about himself will not be bothered about the past.

Is it a good idea for a woman to tell a man about her past?

Yes, if something is worth telling, you can tell. If he is too affected by it then you should stop there.

Were guys and girls treated differently in your family?

Not at all! My father is so proud to have two daughters. We were born and brought up in Jamshedpur, where there is a custom of giving dowry at the time of the girl’s marriage. I remember my father proudly declaring that considering the kind of daughters he had, he should be taking, not giving, money!

Do you beautify yourself to seek male attention or for yourself?

I beautify myself not to seek male attention, but for myself. I feel beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. So even if I don’t beautify myself and if there is a person who loves me, he will find me beautiful even then.

Do men consider women the weaker sex?

Physically, yes, it is a fact and they know it. But mentally and emotionally they accept that women are stronger.

If a girl is not good-looking, do men tend to be less interested in her?

As a norm, the prettier ones are snootier as they know all eyes are on them and the one who is not so pretty is a little subdued. So many times you see an extremely good-looking guy who probably has girls swooning all over him madly in love with a very average-looking girl. I know it sounds straight out of a Mills and Boon novel but it happens so much in real life.

Do men get intimidated when they come across a strong woman like you?

I don’t think so. Forget men, I haven’t even been able to intimidate women! It is my goal in life to intimidate at least one!

What do you think of men who feel that women deserve what they get when they dress provocatively?

They are just passing the buck. If we are looking sexy in an outfit and feeling confident about it, it’s the guy’s problem if he is getting turned on, not our problem. He should take care of it and not pounce upon the girl.

What’s the boldest pass made at you?

Fortunately or unfortunately, I have never had these bold passes made at me. I don’t know if it’s a pass — someone I knew told me that I have fantastic legs. I would not consider that a pass but a plain compliment without any intention.

Why do most actresses shy away from the sex-symbol tag?

Maybe because the sex-symbol tag has the word sex in it, which is a taboo in India.

Would you like to be labelled a sex symbol?

I don’t disapprove of it but I also feel an actress is not all about that. At one time, my name used to always start with ‘sexy actress Tanushree Dutta’. If you get slotted in a particular image it becomes very difficult to break away from it. Otherwise, I think, it is a big compliment and a lot of actresses today are trying to get that desirable tag. I love it.

What if your man disapproves of a revealing outfit that you have worn?

I don’t think that such a situation would ever arise. I haven’t really worn revealing outfits on screen; I have had sequences where I have not worn outfits though (laughs). As such, my clothes or my movies have been decent, nothing that you would call revealing or sexy. That’s why I wondered initially where the sex-symbol tag came from. Then I realised it came from the love-making sequences in the films. My sex appeal comes from my demeanour and not my clothes.

If a man raises his hand on you and attributes it to his loss of temper, would you forgive him?

No, I will slap him back and attribute it to my loss of temper!

Mauli Singh (Bollywood News Service)

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