Lisa: Viva Vijaylakshmi

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By I would love to play Vijaylakshmi once more — Lisa Haydon on her standout act in Queen
  • Published 19.03.14

Lisa Haydon with Kangana Ranaut in Queen

As a woman who lives life on her own terms, model-actress Lisa Haydon is a big surprise in Queen. A t2 chat.

Your Vijaylakshmi is one of the talking points of Queen. What’s the best compliment you’ve got for the role so far?

There was one girl who tweeted me and said, ‘I am so happy to see Vijaylakshmi in Queen because I really want to be like her….’ I think this girl is from Chennai and it was so wonderful to read something like this… that a young girl wants to be as liberated and freethinking as Vijaylakshmi. Also, people are complaining that I didn’t have enough screen time and I am very happy about that… it’s such pure joy to hear that Vijaylakshmi was missed so much in the second half.

You apparently didn’t hesitate even for a moment when you were offered the role…

I immediately knew I could play this character! I have been going to Ibiza (in Spain) every year for a few years now and I keep seeing so many girls there who are just like Vijaylakshmi! They have these kind of Indian-European accents and they behave just like Vijaylakshmi… they are free thinkers who can stand up for themselves and don’t need a man to define them. When Vikas (Bahl, the director) narrated the character to me, I immediately knew who Vijaylakshmi was.

How much of Lisa is in Vijaylakshmi?

Our lifestyles are very different… she’s a hotel housekeeper and a single mom. But in terms of our hearts and souls, Vijaylakshmi and Lisa are very alike. Like Vijaylakshmi, I am also a hippie at heart. We both believe that every individual should have the freedom to live his or her life the way they want to… we are nonjudgemental in the way we look at people. Like Vijaylakshmi, I am open-hearted and loving and compassionate.

Also, what really worked for the film is that I was allowed to interpret Vijaylakshmi the way I wanted to. There was so much improvisation on set. We were allowed to interpret our characters freely and the whole film was a very inspired exercise.

What’s the bit you had the most fun shooting?

I think the first scene where I come out onto the balcony of the hotel and meet Rani (Kangana Ranaut) for the first time and I am ranting about this guy who ran away because I told him he had a tiny penis! I think that was a really funny scene. I really loved the Eiffel Tower scene (where Vijaylakshmi takes Rani for the first time). It was just that one fleeting scene, but it was touching. And then there is that scene where we visit Rani’s relatives in Paris who keep bemoaning the fact that she got dumped… Rani and Vijaylakshmi walk out of their house, don’t talk for a few minutes, look at each other and then burst out laughing!

You’ve lived and worked abroad for the greater part of your life. Have you ever met someone so sheltered and underconfident as Rani?

Definitely, definitely! I wouldn’t say I have someone like that as a close friend, but I surely know people who are like Rani. My sister’s in college and… okay, I am not going to take names, I will get into trouble! But yes, I may not know someone like Rani very closely, but I understand her and where she comes from very well.

Your chemistry with Kangana on screen is very real. Did you guys have an equation off set as well?

We definitely bonded. We chatted… talked about life and love and all different things. We had worked together on Rascals before (co-starring Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn) and we sort of just continued from there.

Why do you think Queen has touched the audience the way it has?

The women are loving it because it doesn’t show them in the way they always have been… here you have women like Rani and Vijaylakshmi who are having burping bouts! They are having fun without being dependent on men for it. Here’s a girl who has been dumped by her guy on the eve of her marriage. What’s she supposed to do… sit there and cry? No way!

You had a bitter experience with Rascals three years ago and apparently wanted to give up on Bollywood permanently. Has Queen changed that?

Oh, for sure! It was such a pleasure to be on a film like Queen. I would love to play Vijaylakshmi once more… I miss her so much. If someone offers me roles of strong-minded women like Vijaylakshmi… someone who is unapologetic about life and love, I am all for it.

Priyanka Roy

Was Lisa’s Vijaylakshmi the most interesting character in Queen? Tell