The phoenix of Hindi cinema justifies her now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t act and says the quest for good cinema keeps bringing her back
From Haryana to Los Angeles, it has been quite a journey! As I write this column, I am instantly transported back to when Khawhish was being made. Critics and others felt it was a bold film and spoke only about the 17 kisses I did in the film. They changed their opinion once they actually saw the film. People realised there was much more to me than the kisses. I was an actress to reckon with. You see, Khwahish rested entirely on my shoulders. And its success proved that if given a meaty role, I could pull off any film. The success of Murder only corroborated that fact.
Interestingly, people have written my obituary lots of times. But for some miraculous reason, I keep resurfacing and resurrecting. And, strangely, to date, people still ask me to describe my journey in filmdom, from Khwahish to Politics of Love and to be seen with top celebrities including Barack Obama. Well, it definitely beats being housebound with flies and mosquitoes for company in Haryana!
People also keep asking what it takes to make an international mark. Just go to Cannes with Jackie Chan or a 150-kilo python! Then you’ve arrived. Then there are those who wonder if I paid a heavy price for achieving stardom. Hey, the producers took care of the heavy Cannes bills. I didn’t spend a dime.
The quest, however, continues for good material. Talking about good material reminds me of my latest release Politics Of Love. It was sheer pleasure shooting with an all-Union Hollywood crew and an all-American cast in Los Angeles. The critics have praised the film and my performance. The Los Angeles Times review was probably the kindest review I have ever received – probably because the writer didn’t come with preconceived opinions about me. Comparing Hollywood to the Hindi film industry is like comparing Mumbai to Los Angeles – both cities have a lot of cars on the streets but LA has better roads and less garbage.
Now just because I am here and have begun doing international ventures, the other question I am often asked is: will I be here for good? Well, my reply is, I am nowhere for good, just where work takes me. Work is worship for me. Also, I believe nothing is permanent. My life has always been about change more than permanence.
I had another interesting international offer too. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Chinese and had to turn it down. There have been other interesting offers too. Scripts pour in by the dozen. But the percentage of ‘interesting’ scripts worldwide has always been small for everyone and that includes me.What is most important to me is that I enjoy the process of acting, nothing else matters. Everyone who wants to make it big should believe in this. The one thing I need to confess is that although I’m completely bilingual now, Hindi dialogue is much easier for me to deal with.But, as I said, the quest for good work continues. Stardom is a side effect that I have embraced.