Fit as a fiddle

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Fit as a fiddle

Rajiv Vijayakar speaks to actress Bipasha Basu on her return to horror with ‘Raaz 3’, her journey in Bollywood over the last decade, and the roles that have challenged her.

She has just essayed her darkest, most emotionally draining role in Raaz 3, directed by Vikram Bhatt. But Bipasha Basu is on a personal high of positive attitude and fitness. “I am proud of myself as an actor and as a person,” she smiles.

“It’s been 11 years since my first release, Ajnabee, in which I was a scheming gold-digger, and 10 years since I’ve played a pativrata Indian wife who fought the evil spirit threatening her husband in Raaz. I am happy that I have done so many good roles and films.”

In her latest release, Bipasha plays the fading film star Shanaya, who resorts to black magic to destroy her upcoming rival, played by Esha Gupta. “When a beautiful face turns evil, it is indeed scary!” she says. “In my earlier horror films, I was terrified. Here I am the scariest thing in the film aur main daraati hoon!”

Spooking the screen

For someone who is admittedly scared of this genre of cinema, of being alone in a house and of darkness since childhood, Bipasha has not only done Raaz but also Darna Zaroori Hai and is doing Aatma as well. “Maybe I am fond of facing my fears,” she quips, when I ask about this paradox.

“But Raaz 3 has been my most exhausting character ever. There was a sequence in which I do not have to cry on screen, but after doing that scene, I broke down and cried and cried on the sets. Also, I kept to myself on the sets, unlike in my other films where I like to joke around.

In fact, Shanaya was someone I did not know how to enact even after I accepted the film. On the first day of the shoot, I was clueless and (Mahesh) Bhatt saab even said, ‘What is this?

We have signed a joker for such an intense role.’ But he then said something beautiful that I will never forget, that self doubt is healthy because it sets you on the road to self-discovery. And I set to discover Shanaya after that. There are so many good roles that an actor gets in her career, but very few opportunities in which she gets to give something to the role. This was one of them.”

Has the role and the film influenced her? “Yes, there is a real touch to it,” says the actress. “Till I heard the story, I did not realise how much success in this business meant to me.

Three years back, if someone had asked me how I would feel if my fame and success went away, I would have said that I would not care, but now, I have realised that I would have only been fooling myself. Fame is addictive.

But it’s very difficult to accept even after knowing that one fine day, you will reach the end of the road.”

About how Bipasha got the role in Raaz 3, she says, “That’s because my attachment to the Bhatts is personal more than professional. After Raaz, they offered me several films, of which I did Gunaah and Footpath.”

Jism, which was also from the same banner, was another passport to fame for Basu, way back in 2003, just after Raaz. “Bhatt saab knows my mind. He knows what I want to do and where I want to go as an actor, ever since the time I heard that Jism was being rejected by many actresses and I told him to give me the role.

Well-wishers told me that I was doing professional hara-kiri by accepting it, but they were proved wrong. This is probably the reason why they keep coming back to me, though they have a policy of not working with stars.”

She adds, “But now I am focused about the fact that I have to do all the roles I’ve wanted to in the time I have left. That said, I do not plan, and never have. I am a different breed as an actor.

I will just be myself, but will keep changing every few months. I guess I will always be doing something, but what that will be, I do not know today.” And what about marriage? “For what? Bacche paida karne ke liye?” she counters. “I cannot plan that either. Right now, I am married to films.”

With films as huge as No Entry, Dhoom 2, Phir Hera Pheri and All The Best, how does she look at the fact that she has made it big without any film co-starring Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan or Hrithik Roshan? “I have none of the superstars with me,” she smiles wryly. “No Entry with Salman Khan was seven years back.

Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn too have worked with me long back, not recently. But I am what I am and am very proud and happy about it. I may have done just one film so far in Bengali, my mother tongue, but it was a very special film — Shob Charitro Kalponik. I am in talks with one of the best new talents in that industry — Srijit Mukherjee — for a film. Srijit has done three milestone Bengali films in recent times.”

Finding the balance

Happiness, feels Bipasha, is the key to everything. “If you are not in a happy zone, shift to it,” is her advice. “And stay physically fit. Till about six years back, I was unfit and prone to sleeping less and working for 20 hours a day, with no value for my body’s needs.

Then I realised that if you do not have a healthy body, there is no point in having the best brain or talent or  all the money. Today, I am not just fit to look at, but physically and mentally strong.”

Having come out with a fitness DVD some time ago, Bipasha is all set to release her second one soon. “It will make people who are like what I was six years ago shake themselves up and hit the gym!” she promises.

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