| Chitrangda Singh with golfer husband Jyoti Randhawa and (below) with Kay Kay Menon in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
n Have you lived up to your name of a feisty woman in a man's world'
(Laughs). My mother was reading the Mahabharata and she wanted a historical name for me. She loved Chitrangada. I don't think I've lived up to my name all that. I could have done better. I've done whatever I could in my small way.
n From Meerut to Mumbai, describe your journey'
I started out by doing some print modelling in Delhi. Then I did a few ad films and music videos including Gulzar saab's Sunset Point. The production manager of one of the videos was also managing the auditions for Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi at the National School of Drama. So I did quite a few auditions for the film. Every time they would say: 'She is just being lucky, aur tough kuch do.' Finally I gave the Mumbai audition to director Sudhir Mishra and I was on.
n Some big names wanted to snatch your role'
Oh yes! One arty actress really wanted to do the role. Sudhir hadn't even spoken to her but she got hold of the script behind his back. Then another model, sister of a top actress, was also keen.
n What's so special about this character of Geeta'
Geeta is in college when the movie starts in 1969-70. So I play a woman of the 60s who is unsure as to what the ideals of her life should be. The film traces her journey of self-discovery ' how she realises herself through her relationship with this man, Siddharth (Kay Kay), who gets involved with the Naxalite movement. In the end she emerges stronger than the man himself.
n What was it like working with Sudhir Mishra in your very first film'
It was like a crash course in acting. He helped me discover my talent. Sudhir is a qualified psychologist and no surprise he acts like one. He is able to get out your emotional side. There's no pressure at all as he helps you get into the situation. He was a great guide for both me and the other newcomer, Shiney Ahuja.
n And Kay Kay...
He's brilliant. He worked so much on his character and when he would ask me to do the same, I would ask in reply ' how do you work on a character' But he was very, very encouraging, never looking down on somebody with a modelling career. When I saw the film, I realised how helpful he had been.
n Ketan Mehta calls you the new Smita Patil'
(Laughs). I was quite taken aback. Towards the end of the film I was wearing these cotton saris which Smita used to wear a lot, and also the bun at the back. I guess, the earthiness, the essential Indianness is what we share. After the preview, Ketan Mehta came to me, quietly stared at me and said: 'Oh God! Such likeness.'
n Is it a burden to be golfer Jyoti Randhawa's wife'
I'm married to a winner. There's no denying that and there's no hiding that. But yes, sometimes that fact takes the focus off what I'm doing on my own. He is way better than me but I'm not using his name or anything. If I could have my way, I would rather have people talk about me as Chitrangda and not Mrs Randhawa.
n How does he feel about your acting'
He hasn't yet seen the film. He is very surprised and doesn't believe that I could be as good as all these big directors are saying. He is, of course, very proud of me having discovered a new side in me even after marriage.
n What next'
I have done debutante Ruchi Narain's Kal: Yesterdays & Tomorrows. Ruchi was an assistant to Sudhir and had seen me very closely. Sarika, Boman Irani and Shiney are also there in the film. I am also pitching for Sudhir's next film The Nawab, the Naach Girl and the John Company. There's also another big project, which hasn't been finalised yet.