Barbara Mori with Hrithik Roshan in Kites, releasing on May 21
There have been foreign heroines and there have been foreign heroines and now there is Barbara Mori.
She is something else altogether. Not because she is paired opposite Hrithik Roshan. We have had Alice Patten and Ali Larter play leading ladies to Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. But there is something about Mori.
Ever since Anurag Basu cast the Mexican hottie in Kites in early-2008, Google has been clicked into overdrive to find out who exactly Barbara Mori is. The images search has thrown up a lot of Barbara the Bod — in the waters and on the sand. The initial verdict: the firangi Mallika Sherawat imported for more Murder.
But then stills from the sets in New Mexico surfaced and so did stories that hinted at Hrithiks growing proximity to Mori. By the time Hrithik turned up on the Cannes red carpet last May with Mori in tow, she was no longer just a phoren hottie. Just like British model Katrina Kaif had hit a different orbit the moment she ran into Salman Khans arms, the 32-year-old actress from Mexico City was suddenly more than just a jpeg image on the, er, hard drive.
Very soon, Mori was pitted against Sussanne Roshan and the good ol Bolly silsila started playing out in full flow. You may be surprised to hear this but I was expecting something like that, Mori tells t2 on the phone from Mumbai. As the broken English makes its way through the wires, the first reaction is in which language must Hrithik have romanced her, if he did at all. The speech is laboured, with a heavy dose of Mexican.
Mori is on her third trip to India and despite being hurled the same question on camera and in print, she is in the mood to explain. You know, in Mexico, its the same… all the time. I have been acting for 13 years and I have been linked to my co-actors every time. So I have got used to it now. I am not affected by all this. I dont need to explain anything to Sussanne… she is a friend. The tone swings from matter-of-fact to oh-so-cool.
It was in 1997 that Mori made her acting debut in the Mexican telenovela Al norte del corazó. It wasnt before 2000 that the actress appeared in her first film, the comedy Inspiració. The movie that made Mori a big name not just in Mexico but also created a splash in the US box office, was, however, the 2005 blockbuster La mujer de mi hermano (The Wife of My Brother).
Unlike other foreign imports, who take the flight to Mumbai for a brush with brand Bollywood, Mori was invited to the multi-crore party. Anurag and producer Rakesh Roshan discovered Mori in Los Angeles, when the likes of Penelope Cruz didnt work out. Then too, for Mori, it was not about the association with the movie industry that is making waves globally. The main reason I agreed to do Kites is because I loved the story, she says, almost triumphantly. The love story in the movie is beautiful. I just love it. And that it was a Bollywood film, made me more excited. But for me, its also my first English movie and my first action movie.
It was only after the Kites deal was sealed that Barbara started watching Bollywood movies. I had heard about them, but I hadnt watched them before. When I realised that I would be doing Kites, I started doing research. I watched most of Hrithiks films and my favourite is Lakshya, she says making the Farhan Akhtar war film sound like the popular Bollywood beauty soap. Mori is quick to chip in that Hrithik also saw her new Mexican film Love, Pain and Vice Versa the other night and he loved it.
So what is Barbara Moris take on Hrithik? Hes a great actor and a great companion. And he is a really beautiful human being. Its been a very nice experience. We wait for her to say more, to slip-up but she quickly waltzes her way to the way he dances. He is a fantastic dancer. I dont really like dancing. I am not used to dancing because we dont have dancing scenes in Mexican films. So in the film you will see hes dancing and I am not dancing. Whatever little I danced, Hrithik helped me.
Surprisingly, Mori uses the word chemistry for director Anurag Basu. We have a lot of chemistry between him and me, she gushes. He is a great guy… we bonded, we clicked rightaway. He knows what he wants and he knows how to guide you as an actor.
Its not too difficult to guess that the girl who never married but had a baby 12 years ago (by actor Sergio Mayer) is now all focused on her career. If theres one thing she is truly passionate about, its acting. In her words: Acting is everything to me. It is the main thing in my life. Thats all I wanted to do, all my life… acting, acting, acting. And Kites, she has figured out, will dictate the rest of her act. Its been a long, long wait but finally the film will release, she says. I am happy that everyone has loved the promos and liked me in the promos. I am very excited.
But there is a word of caution coming from the sexy lady. She is not sexy! People are looking at me as sexy because of the commercials and photoshoots I have done. But I am not like that actually. In real life, I am just another regular woman.
A regular woman who has already signed another Bollywood film, which she cannot talk about. I should come back early next year to shoot for it.
So if its not Hrithik, who is the man in her life? A Bollywood heroine would have ducked the question but not Barbara Mori. She doesnt even ask for the question to be repeated this time.
My son, she whispers.