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Stealing the show

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Mugdha Godse is picking up the pace after having catwalked off the ramps of haute couture right into the arc lights of Fashion. So even as the accolades sink in, the young model turned movie star is preparing for lift-off.

But the twenty-something is not on a signing spree. The time is for scouting scripts for the perfect follow-up to her much-extolled film debut. And there’s clearly no dearth of reading material. “I’ve just finished going through two scripts this week, two more to go. So much so for my plans of sitting on a beach in Goa and getting tanned,” chuckles Godse.

Her chatter might be tinged with a Marathi accent, but it is something that surprisingly does not come through in the character of Janet Sequeira, a struggling second-rung model, that she plays in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. Janet’s lingo is unabashedly ‘Mumbaiyya’, but in a film that has a heady cocktail of actresses (Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut also play lead roles), Godse holds her own. She carries off the grungy look with slashed tees and low-slung jeans paired with booties and chains with considerable street savviness.

Mugdha Godse walks the ramp for Mandira Wirk

“That’s exactly where my job became difficult and easy simultaneously — tough because I knew Priyanka and Kangana are established names in the industry. And easy because given such names if I stood out, my job was done,” says the supermodel, a known face on Indian fashion runways.

Making her debut in the film industry as a model, which is exactly what she does best in real life, Godse couldn’t have asked for a better transition. She points out: “Yet it was worlds apart from the role I play. It was far removed from a supermodel’s. I went for a crash course at Anupam Kher’s acting academy. Then I had a hard time dubbing because I thought my voice was too nasal. Madhur sir gave me the option of a dubbing artist, but I was insistent on doing my own thing.”

Ever since the release of the film, the incessant phone calls have put her on a high. “The one I cherished the most was from my parents. Somehow they never expressed such pride in me before this. I’ve watched the film at least eight or nine times already and still my reaction is ‘Pinch me!’”

It was at a fashion week in Delhi when Bhandarkar was researching for his film that he spotted Godse walking the ramp. “The attitude and the spunk made me look twice at her. Also, I have always taken pride in my instinct to cast actors in certain roles. It never fails me,” says Bhandarkar.

But he had to convince the model to be a part of Fashion’s cast. “She insisted she had no formal training or a theatre background to fall back on. Her words were, ‘I’m a model’ and that a model is not known for her acting abilities,” he adds.

There was a time, of course, when moviemakers would shy away from the model-actress combination but those barriers don’t exist anymore what with names like Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, John Abraham, Bipasha Basu and others out there displaying their histrionic talent. And Godse turns out to be another name in the reckoning. She’s already signed a three-film contract with Percept Picture Company.

According to her, however, ignorance is bliss. “When you don’t know much about something, you just go with the flow. I didn’t know if my lipstick or hair was looking fine. I would go by directions rapped out by the director, the cameraman or cinematographer,” says Godse.

The model poses with Kangana Ranaut (left), Madhur Bhandarkar and Priyanka Chopra (far right) on the sets of Fashion

The leggy lass, who bought her own house in Juhu three years ago and lives on her own, comes from Pune. “Mine is a very middle-class family. My father is a banker and my mother a homemaker. I have studied in a Marathi medium school all my life, so when I joined college it was a cultural shock for me. Even coming to Mumbai, learning the ways of the high-flying crowd — holding a glass of wine, the cheek-to-cheek greeting, networking with people — it was certainly quite a journey. Especially because I am not a very classy person,” she says.

It is this forthright quality to her personality that makes it self-admiring when she says that having a good face, body and height made her give the Gladrags megamodel contest in 2002 a go. Sure enough, winning it earned Godse a ticket to Mumbai and a life previously unknown to her.

Nevertheless, her introduction to show business wasn’t always easy. She’s lucky to have a figure that could carry off a bikini scene to perfection. So Godse did get a lot of kudos when she appeared in Fashion and glided about effortlessly in a two-piece bikini. She knows her body is an asset as a model especially as she won the Miss Perfect 10 title in the Miss India Universe contest in 2004. So she takes care to maintain it. That includes training everyday for 45 minutes in Hatha Yoga, Kathak, or weight training and snacking on soya sticks and protein bars.

Five years into professional modelling and Godse is not ready to give up on it completely. There will be the occasional ramp appearance when she can make time away from her mint new career. “How can I say I am leaving modelling — something that has made me what I am today?” she says thoughtfully.

On her mind right now is enrolling for another course in acting before plunging into the shoots for her next film in December. While her endorsements, appearances and other aspects are being taken care of by Globosports, she is choosing her scripts without any advice. Says Godse: “The right script and the right director are the key words I’m keeping in mind. And living out my 70mm dream.”

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