For your earlier film "Dil Vil Pyar Vyar" you were compared with Meryl Streep. And now for "Charas", the director says you remind him of Winona Ryder.
Yes, can you beat that! But I'd any day prefer to be compared with Meryl Streep. Actually Streep and Ryder are two completely different actresses. So being compared with both is a comment on my capabilities as an actress, ha ha! Besides they're a generation removed so I guess I'm getting younger!
But seriously, I think the comparison with Ryder in "Charas" comes from my zany but vulnerable character. I'm this mixed-up child-woman. It's a very interesting role. Very frankly, I don't have that much to do in the film. My director, Tigmanshu Dhulia, was very clear about this being a boy's film. But he also said that he could see only me in the role of the junkie... I wonder why (laughs)! I had to be soft and yet hardened. I'm quite like Zeenat Aman in "Hare Rama Hare Krishna".
Actually my role has quite a sharp twist at the end; but that I shall save for later. I enjoyed doing the film because I wasn't given a false impression about the length of my role. In "Charas", I was in and out. I had a lot more time to spend on "Bride & Prejudice".
How do you rate Dhulia as a director?
He's definitely one of the best directors we have. I like the way he shoots his film. His takes are very unconventional. One never knows when a shot is over with him. Each time he said, "cut", I'd say, "Are you sure?" I realized what he was up to only when I saw the edited footage. (Britain-based) Gurinder Chaddha, with whom I have done "Bride & Prejudice", is another director who has a blast on the editing table. There was a world of difference between the way films are shot in Bollywood and out there. The pre-production preparation was watertight. And since we went through so many rehearsals before going on the floors, there was no room for errors on the sets.
Not surprisingly, all work finished on schedule. Interestingly I went from "Charas" to "Bride & Prejudice". During "Charas" in Manali we wasted a lot of time because of bad weather. For Gurinder's film, for a 7 a.m. shoot we had to be ready with makeup at 5.30.
How did you like playing the elder sister to Aishwarya Rai in "Bride & Prejudice"?
I'd definitely like to say that I'm just a year older. And please, she doesn't call me 'didi' in the film. We call each other Lalita and Jaya. My co-star is Naveen Andrews. I must say he's perfectly cast, and so are all the rest, including Aishwarya, Meghna Kothari and me as the three sisters. Nadira Babbar, who's the most important character, is amazing.
How will this film help your career?
Frankly, I don't know how much of what I've shot will be finally retained. But whatever I've shot has Aishwarya and me in tandem. We share a lot of the frames. As far as the romantic interest goes, the prime focus is Aishwarya and Martin Henderson. But to say that I'm not important to the plot wouldn't be correct.
What else have you signed?
I don't like what I'm offered. At this stage of my career I don't want to do anything I'll regret later. I hope "Charas" works. Frankly "Bride & Prejudice" is more my film. I'm listening to scripts. But they don't jell with me. Maybe one film a year would be enough. But it has to be the right film. I saw "The Passion Of The Christ" and craved to be in something like that. I'd love to play Mary Magdalene.
Are you planning to quit and marry?
No, no, not at all! These rumors are just not right. In fact I've just signed a film, Arindam Chatterjee's "Rok Sako To Rok Lo" with Sunny Deol. Sunny plays a biker who guides college kids. I own a cafĂ© on the campus. What I like about this set-up is that it's being produced by a corporate house. We need to get more professional.