My character causes all the confusion and chaos in Singh Is Bliing
Like her contemporaries she took time off from the arc lights to enjoy marriage and motherhood, but has returned to do what she does best – make people laugh and cry. The gorgeous Lara Dutta, who stars in Prabhu Dheva’s Singh Is Bliing, reveals what made her leave the comforts of her home for a film and her future plans.
Singh Is Bliing is your first film post motherhood. How does it feel to be back?
It feels good! Doesn’t feel like I have been away for too long. Acting is like cycling, once you know it, it comes naturally every time you get on the bicycle.
Your first film Andaz was with Akshay Kumar and your comeback film too is with him. Can you tell us about your association with him?
Honestly, more than 50 per cent of the reason to do the film is that it has Akshay and it is his production. So, it feels like working with family. I know I am going to be taken care of. I know he understands that now I am a mum and there are only certain hours one can work. Also, Akshay and I have the best synergy onscreen. So, it is a blast. He is just high on energy all the time. He has been like that since Andaz and doing a comedy is even more energetic and fun.
What is your role in the film and what did you like about it?
Akshay called me on Feb 13. I picked up the phone and told him that ‘I am sorry you have missed the bus to be my valentine’. And in his usual candid self he told me ‘Ek role hai tere liye sun le, tu hi kar payegi’. He told me in a nutshell that my character is the one to cause confusion and chaos in the film. So, I said I will do it. In all honesty, it is liberating to finally play roles that are not focused on me being the stereotypical Bollywood heroine – with the blow dried hair, glamorous clothes and giving the perfect smile. The roles I have chosen this year (Singh Is Bliing, Azhar and Fitoor) go beyond that and focus on what talent I have. That’s the key thing right now.
My character, Emily, is a quirky, geeky fun character and slightly cracked. Akshay can’t speak English, Amy can’t speak Hindi and both are falling in love. So, they hire Emily as their translator and she can’t stand Akshay. She feels he is the biggest goon so she misrepresents all the communication between Akshay and Amy. The chunk of the comedy in Singh Is Bliing is created by Emily. It is a role that is meaty and gives an opportunity to take the story forward rather than just support it. It gave me a chance to go completely mad. When Prabhu (Dheva) sir found out that I am willing to do any kind of antics, he has pushed it even more. Of course, Akshay took it to another level.
Emily seems to have a quirky fashion sense. Can you throw some light on it?
Yes, there was a certain thought process behind her look. Emily is Goan and has no sense of style and fashion. Her idea of fashion is what existed in 1980s – the neon go-go ear rings, can can skirts and etc. And she is confident about it. She is a yeda (crazy) kind of character. She takes her job seriously but it has to be on her terms.
Was it difficult to match up to Akshay’s comic timing?
No, we feed off each other. Riteish (Deshmukh) and I have a fantastic give and take. Surprisingly, Salman (Khan) and I had a fantastic give and take in Partner. So, with some actors the give and take and chemistry comes naturally. I know Akshay will do something completely different from what is rehearsed and written. And he knows that if he throws it out there I will pick it up and react to it. Likewise, I know if I change the line he will catch it and turn it around. So we have fun.
You are one actress who has impeccable comic timing and can hold her ground with the funny men. Did you always think you are good at doing comedy?
I never even knew I was good at comedy till I did No Entry. I am the farthest thing from my character in it – that of a suspicious Punjabi housewife. With each character I learnt something and slowly started flexing some muscles and stretching out to do something funny, without looking stupid. Then, there was Housefull, Bhagam Bhag, Do Not Disturb etc. I learnt something new with each film. Even while working with different directors you learn a lot and become better. Prabhu sir’s approach to comedy is very different from any other directors I have worked with. So far my approach to comedy has been very physical and every expression is first registered on the face. Prabhu sir likes to keep the face stoic and comedy happens with the dialogues and surroundings. That in itself is also very funny.
You have been lauded for comedy roles, so wouldn’t you have preferred to make a comeback in a different role?
No, no! I love the character. It is a commercial and entertaining film. I did not sign Singh Is Bliing and expect a Drishyam. I enjoy watching all different genres. So, I enjoy doing all different roles. And at the same time I am doing a film like Azhar. One picks and chooses from what is offered.
Can you tell us about your other films?
In Fitoor I play a small part but I am happy to be a part of it. It is a nice film and I like the character. It didn’t exist in the original. Gattu (director Abhishek Kapoor) came up with it. Also, I got to work with the young generation of actors – all my scenes are with Aditya (Roy Kapoor) in the film. In Azhar my character is a bit more vocal and powerful, something I have never done before in a film. It is a biopic so all the more harder to do justice. I have got two films that I am producing, but I am not acting in it. Thank God!
One often hears that marriage and motherhood change career prospects for an actress. Have the offers dried up?
The offers keep coming but my priorities have changed. Saira was born soon after my marriage. I can’t tell tennis champion Mahesh (Bhupathi, her husband) to sit at home and stop winning Grand Slams to take care of Saira. I didn’t want to. I wanted to spend time with our child and make sure one of us is with her always. I thoroughly enjoyed being with Saira and never for a moment regretted or wished I was back on the set. There was no set or film more enticing than spending time with my kid. Of course, now she’s growing up and wants to spend time with her teachers and friends. So, I had more time on my hand and started with my production plans. For the last two years we have been working on two films, which go on the floors early next year.