Genelia, the effervescent newcomer of Tujhe Meri Kasam and Masti is back in Bollywood —via stardom down south — with a bang. She has two biggies in her Bolly bag: Aamir Khans Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Priyadarshans Mere Baap Pehle Aap. A t2 chat about movies and a man...
First, what does Genelia mean?
My mum always tells me that Genelia means rare and unique. I asked her why. She said its a combination of her and my dads names, Genet and Neil. Its a name that has been derived.
Okay, so how does it feel being a superstar down south but being just another heroine here?
I am glad. Its motivation for me to work hard and come up (laughs).
Do you want to be a superstar in Bollywood too?
I dont know about being a superstar but I definitely want to be someone whose films are watched (laughs).
After doing two Bollywood films, you decided to go south. What has made you come back after five years?
I think its destiny. It has been quite a journey for me to snap off from here and go south and then come here again. Priyanjis Mere Baap Pehle Aap and Aamir Khans Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na are both a big opportunity for me as they are huge films.
What prompted you to move south?
Its a misconception that I was a Bollywood dropout who made it big in the south. I started in Bollywood and down south at the same time. I was shooting a film directed by Shankar at the same time when I was doing Tujhe Meri Kasam. I am one of the only actresses to have debuted in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu films in the same year. I dont regret anything as I am back again and enjoying good work.
But do you feel you have missed out a lot in Bollywood in the intervening years?
Not really. I was satisfied working there in the south. The kind of experience I gained there, I would never get that many opportunities here. Its tough in the south because they change their heroines in every film but I was there for five years. I enjoyed substantial roles there. The experience I got has helped me as I am a more confident actor now. I was definitely open to a comeback and I am glad that I am getting the chance to show what I am really capable of.
Which film did you sign first — Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or Mere Baap Pehle Aap?
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.
How was it working with Imran Khan in Jane Tu...?
It was good and I think he is a promising debutant.
And how did Mere Baap Pehle Aap happen?
Priyanji saw my film Bommarillu for which I had won an award. I got a call from Priyanji and I wanted to be a part of his film.
So how was the experience?
It was fabulous. I was working with such talented people who are already legends — Pareshji, Omji, Akshaye, and Priyanji. I am starting in Bollywood again; I havent been to an acting school so I learnt a lot by observing them.
With such stalwarts like Paresh Rawal and Om Puri, were you apprehensive of being overshadowed?
Not at all. Because Priyanji was very impressed by my acting in Bommarillu and if he wanted me to do this film there was probably something that suits my calibre as an actor. My role will not be inconsequential. That apprehension was never there because Priyanji himself made it clear at the beginning.
Akshaye Khanna is known to be a bit moody. Were you apprehensive about that?
He is a very comfortable actor. He keeps to himself but he has never been moody. He is a very helpful co-star. Personally, I think Akshaye is very cute.
Both your movies are releasing at the same time. Are you happy about that?
Initially, I wondered why both were releasing together but now I feel great about it. I think both the films are different. Jaane Tu is a romantic film but it is also a wholesome entertainer. Its a perfect launch. And Mere Baap Pehle Aap belongs to the comedy genre which everyone loves to see. In both the films I have got very good roles.
You have signed one more Bollywood film...
Yes, I have signed a film with Harman Baweja. It will be directed by Anees Bazmee.
Who is your favourite actress?
I am a big fan of Kajol and Madhuri. If I think I am even half a percent of what they are, I would be really excited. I share the same birthday with Kajol. So I am hoping that our stars match somewhere!
There is a buzz that you are seeing Riteish Deshmukh, your co-star in Tujhe Meri Kasam and Masti?
I should ask all of you. We are dear friends definitely and thats about it.
You guys met at a cafe recently. True?
Whats wrong in that?
But as they say there is no smoke without fire…
There is no smoke, no fire. There is nothing there (laughs).
Is it natural to fall in love with your first co-star?
I dont think so (laughs).
Would you like do more films with him?
Definitely. I think he is a terrific actor.
Have you seen any of his films after Tujhe Meri Kasam and Masti?
I have seen all of his (Riteishs) films. He is doing a great job and I am sure will continue to do so.