In Aa Dekhen Zara, you are playing yet another Bengali in a Bollywood film after Nishigandha Dasgupta in Corporate and Sonali and Monali Bose in Dhoom:2. Is that a part of your contract now?
(Laughs) Yes I play a Bengali again. I dont know why my directors always make me play a Bengali. This time I am Simi Chatterjee. This character is supposedly from Calcutta and she comes to Mumbai. But its basically just a back story. We just want to show a very independent, a very modern todays girl, whos come from another city and is trying to make a living in Mumbai. Its just to give some strength to the character… shes very firm and forthright.
And why, pray, are you playing a DJ?
I play an aspiring singer who deejays in the process of getting a break. She is musically inclined and she deejays around for a living in Mumbai. At the same time she is trying to cut her own album and make it as a singer.
Did you try your hands at the turntable for your homework as a DJ?
No! You know, again, the entire character has been set up to give the girl an edge. When you have a kind of profession to your character and a background, you can actually highlight some of the characteristics and use them for the plot. Its just that. I have a DJ song which is my introduction song. But after that its basically the story. Its about these two people and how a camera, which has the power to predict the future, decides the course of their lives. Neils character gets the camera and he takes pictures of a lot of subjects and I happen to be one of them because I am his neighbour and I live opposite him. He has to go and meet all the subjects of his camera and that is how the story rolls.
In both Bachna Ae Haseeno and Aa Dekhen Zara, you have gone for a very athletic look. Is it because you are paired opposite younger and fitter heroes?
In Bachna Ae Haseeno, I would say, my character was very girlie in the first half and the second half was very womanly. Because she had turned into this diva. Both the stylings were very different to Aa Dekhen Zara. Here its not a girlie character. She is very boyish… She is a DJ and does not depend on a man for anything. A firm modern woman I would say. Not very girlie. The styling is done accordingly… she wears cargoes, ganjis and string trinkets and a little bit of indigo hair. The hair is, in fact, not done up... its a bit of a messy hair.... Both the girls are modern. I presume you are calling it athletic because I am on the thinner side in both the films. But in todays times, even the mummies are so yummy (laughs)! People are looking after themselves so much. So if I am playing a dancer or a DJ, I have to definitely be fit in the first place. Any girl would be.
Bipasha Basu with Aa Dekhen Zara co-star Neil Nitin Mukesh
How was Neil Nitin Mukesh to work with?
He was fabulous. He is a very good actor, very honest to his work, very professional and whats nice is that he doesnt seem to be a newcomer. He knows the craft of filmmaking quite well because he has been an assistant director. I appreciate people who value their work and come on time. We got along really well, we had fun while doing the film and we are in touch even after the film got over. We meet up once in a while.
You have worked with Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar and now you are working with Neil and Ranbir Kapoor. Is there a difference in the way you approach your work?
No, not really. I have never put much thought to who my co-star is going to be, right from my first film. Luckily I have worked with amazing leading men and I totally enjoy the fact that today I can work with somebody who is 40-plus, somebody who is 30-plus and somebody who is 20-plus and I look good with all of them. So I am pretty much in a very lucky position I would say. At the end of the day, its the story which attracts me rather than who my co-star is. I have never decided my films on that basis. Otherwise right at the beginning of my career, I would have been running behind Shah Rukh Khan and telling him, please work with me. That has never happened but looking back it wouldnt have hurt to work with Shah Rukh Khan also! I am very very proud and happy with my career. I have single-handedly built it. No hero has recommended me ever, theres no director who has recommended me. It has always been my gut feeling and my hard work which has kept me going. Its been nine years and I dont feel it yet.
But the equation on the sets must be different with these young actors…
You know these are the guys who are my age. Like Neil is three years younger than me… For actors like Sanjay Dutt I have a lot of respect for them and they are very protective about me on the sets. But I really dont have much to talk to them about. With Ranbir and Neil I can really chill out and chat. Everyones different. Its not really age-defined, its more personality-defined. Theres someone like Akshay Kumar whos fun always. He is like hilarious to work with… right from my first film (Ajnabee) till now. And he is a workaholic at the same time. Equations have been very interesting and I have worked with so many kinds of heroes. I have worked with Bobby, I have worked with Ajay Devgan, Amitabh Bachchan, John, Abhishek… I have had fun working with most of my heroes. Again between Neil and Ranbir, they are very different people. Ranbir is totally mad and I have a mad equation with him. Neil is very professional and its more about work.
In your hometown, we are looking forward to Shob Choritro Kalponik…
Even I am (laughs)!
Bipasha with Rituparno Ghosh
Whats the status with the release?
You find out and tell me. You are closer to Rituparno (laughs)!
But have you seen the finished film? What do you think?
I have seen it and I like it. Just that I am not happy with somebody else dubbing for me. The voice is too jarring for my ears. I will never be happy. I am an artiste and I think one of the pluses of my being an actor is my voice. They cannot really take it away from me. See the way I look at it, if I were to dub for the National Award print, I would dub for all the prints. That makes a lot of sense to me because I want the audiences to see it with my voice because I dont think people identify me with a strangers voice on my face.
Didnt you tell that to Rituda?
Yes I have had a chat and I have made it very clear to everybody. But I havent heard from anybody. Theres no movement at this point of time. I am very open to dubbing. I can give as much time as is required. If they need it to be done very quickly, I will do it very quickly and if they want me to do a long-stretch dub, I will do that. But the ball is in their court at this point of time. I just feel that I have given a lot of effort in the film and they cannot really do this with me at the end of the day. And its not going to help the film. When I give my voice, its going to add me in it. And I am the main protagonist and I am there all the time. So it seems very fake. I just know I can add a lot to the film by lending my voice.