Lara Dutta: Now, I want to play unsafe!

Says Lara Dutta, who wants to play fun, out-of-the-box characters now


Lara Dutta is best known for her comic outings in Housefull 2, Bhagam Bhag andNo Entry to name a few. Now,  she is all set to return to the silver screen. Here she talks about taking a break from films to enjoy motherhood, making a comeback,Bollywood opening up to women-centric films and heroines being able to work into their 30s. Read on…

You made your debut opposite Akshay Kumar in Andaaz and now your comeback film is also with Akshay…
(Smiles) That’s just a coincidence. Honestly, I was enjoying my time with my daughter Saira and if I had to leave her for a particular period of time to shoot for a film, in all probability it was only Akshay who could have convinced me! It’s fun to be part of an Akshay film, it’s like working with family. What’s more, I could take my daughter along with me, so I had a good time.  Also, the character that I am playing in the film is something that you have never seen me doing before. Yes, I have done a lot of comedy films, but most of them had an ensemble cast and humour was created around other characters. But in this I am the key comic character. Plus, she has a diabolical streak to her. She has this chasmish look, is quiet and mousy — these little traits appealed to me and the fact that there was no pressure to look glamorous!

Did you miss being away from the screen?
I wouldn’t say I missed it that much because becoming a mom really changes your priorities overnight. The first few years of a child are the most important as that is the time they form impressions. Much was going on with Mahesh (Bhupathi) as he was busy setting up his tennis league besides playing, so it was vital that one parent was constant. My first priority was Saira. It’s only when you actually get back on the sets that you think you probably did miss it.

You are playing a small role in Fitoor as well.
Gattu (Abhishek Kapoor) and I have known each other since we were teenagers. Both of us had done a music video together years ago, which we call our masterpiece (laughs). We kept in touch. When he came over and narrated the character to me I found it interesting. It is the only character that does not exist in the book (the film is based on Charles Dickens’Great Expectations). It also gave me an opportunity to work with the newer lot of actors.

What kind of roles are you looking at doing now?
I think I have been lucky so far. I got to play an elegant, sophisticated and intelligent woman in Fitoor, a fun character in Singh Is Bliing and in Azhar, I am playing a plucky lawyer. Filmmakers today are actually writing different characters and looking at actors who can convincingly portray them. I am having the more in the industry now. It is not about being a leading lady to Akshay or Salman Khan. Just being a romantic lead is over and done with. Today’s characters require acting chops and they are real, the kind I always wanted to do. However, being part and parcel of Bollywood, you have to play the leading lady for ‘x’ amount of films. But yes, great characters are being written for women, which was not the case even seven or eight years ago. And, we can continue to work well into our 30s, which is good. Today, there are a bunch of fantastic directors like Bejoy Nambiar, Dibakar Bannerjee — I did Bejoy’s David when Saira was five months old — and others. I enjoyedFukrey. I want to play fun, out-of-the-box characters.  I am past the point of playing safe, now I want to play unsafe.

Priyanka Chopra is making her international TV show. You both began your career together. Your take?
I think it’s incredible what that girl has been able to accomplish. The entire country is looking forward to it. Unfortunately, in our line people are not so happy with others people’s success, but the energy that is shown around PC’s show is of the rare kind. The industry people are behind her and I genuinely hope this girl is able to break through.

Did you ever think of crossing over?
I had the offers and the opportunity during my time as Miss Universe. It would have entailed me and my family moving to States, but I chose not to do that.

You have judged a beauty pageant on TV. Has anything else interested you on the small screen?
I have been getting offers to judge different kinds of shows but TV requires a huge commitment. You have to give 12-13 hours in a day, which is taxing. I did that show because it was about mentoring girls for the international beauty pageant and that is something I have experienced. Besides, everything has to balance out — my career and home.

Finally, do you feel that today more women-centric films are being made than in the past?
Yes, and there’s a simple reason for that. Today’s girls are better actors than boys! It may sound biased, but it’s true, whether it’s Kangana (Ranaut), Anushka (Sharma) PC, etc. Let me put it this way – there are more woman who are better than men and filmmakers have no choice, but to write great roles for them.