I call ‘sexy’ a package

The actress who was in Dubai for the premiere of her film Goal speaks to City Times about applauding her own performances and making her own choices

By Vijaya Sukumar (Contributor)

Published: Sat 24 Nov 2007, 10:43 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:38 AM

AS THE beauteous Bollywood star Bipasha Basu walked in, a hush fell across the awaiting journos — the females watched awestruck while their male counterparts were totally floored!

The dusky and sultry beauty is drop dead gorgeous. Little wonder that she has been named the Sexiest Asian woman in the world this year. Her graceful poise and affable demeanour only enhances her appeal and increasing popularity.

Bipasha was in town for the premiere of UTV Motion Pictures Production 'Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal' directed by Vivek Agnihotri. The premier of the film was held at Grand Cineplex, on Wednesday by STAR Middle East Ltd.

From winning the Ford Supermodel Contest at the age of 17 followed by a successful international and national modelling career to an unusual debut in films, Bipasha Basu has always stood apart from the rest. Her growth as an actress can be seen from her repertoire of films be it Jism, Raaz, Corporate, Omkara, No Entry or Dhoom 2. Brushing aside all speculations and rumours of her affair with Saif Ali Khan, the actress makes it obvious that she and boyfriend John are still the hottest couple in Bollywood. Though she carries the mantle of glamour most befittingly she displays her sense of humour and down to earth attitude in an interview with City Times just hours before the premiere. Sophisticated and glamorous at the same time friendly and fun-loving, Bipasha is indeed irresistible.

What is the film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal about? It seems to be more than just football.

Yes it’s an inspirational human drama. It’s a film which talks about achieving something in your life no matter what your beginning is. It’s a film which talks about being proud about your roots and not wanting to be somebody else.

It talks about the Asian community in UK who want to achieve something in life and it talks about their struggle. I think Asians settled in all parts of the world sometimes face a kind of discrimination.

Football is the sport that is used as the backdrop to bring all these people together. It is about how these underdogs put together a winning professional team in order to save their ground from being converted into a mall. It is truly inspirational and one can emotionally connect with it.

I am very happy to be a part of this film because in today’s time film making is like a business. If something works we make prototypes and what is working these days is comedy and sometimes we make just about anything and they become hits. It’s a business so sometimes we have to be a part of this.

I’m glad that I am a part of a film like Goal which has content. It is a very simple story, but a story that talks about various characters and their achievements.

How did your role come about?

I have to say the boys will walk out with all the merit at the end of the day for this film and I’m absolutely aware of it right from the day I signed for it. The reason why I did the film was because it’s a sport film and there are very few sport films that are being made.

Definitely Chak De! India released before us and you’d think we followed it — we didn’t! Concept wise both were ready at the same time, we started rolling later. It so happened that we too were making a sports film, because the choices of sports films are so few.

I have been a big fan of sports films like Lagaan and Chak De! India. In fact I was like one full “Chappri audience” jumping on the seat, screaming — you know you can participate with these films!

I definitely wanted to see myself in such a film whatever the role. When Rumana’s role was offered to me I already knew that the protagonist Sunny was being played by John who is truly passionate about the sport. Then there is Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani and lots of real players playing actors.

So I knew that this was something which was going to be very real and accurate. It’s not going to be fake. Nobody’s going to pretend to play football. Everyone is going to play football and that’s where the fun is and I love football so I said I have to be a part of this film.

Rumana did not really disappoint me but definitely in front of the boys she is a little pale in this film. I play a supporting character in this film.

You play the role of a Pakistani physiotherapist. Any special research or homework done for this?

My director was very clear in how he wanted Rumana to be. Since she was also a part of the team she was always in tracks and the physio jacket. She had a pony tail sometimes and sometimes open hair, spectacles and very little make-up.

A young Southall girl, she is a medical student who is roped in because she is a physiotherapist and they don’t have enough money to pay the medic. It’s a very simple character. The good thing is that I don’t stand out. When any team film is made you have to blend in. That was the effort I put in — to not stand out, because being the only girl I could stand out very easily but the fun is to blend in and I did that.

Did your love for football come in after John came into your life?

Yes absolutely! He introduced me to the game. I used to hate it earlier. I used to say ‘What is this? 11 men are running behind this one ball’, but when you really watch it you realise how exciting it can be! It’s very basic — you have to just kick the ball and get a goal but the excitement level, the adrenaline rush you get because you’re actually participating in it with the ball is amazing. It’s too fast and too skilful a game so I totally love it now. John’s actually done a very good thing for me — he's introduced me to the world of football.

Was it difficult to be on the sidelines while the boys had fun on the field?

It was very entertaining. They were freezing and I was very warm! We were shooting in very cold conditions. Poor boys in their shorts and their jerseys were freezing their butts, but Boman and I were very warm as we were totally covered and our shots were always taken first and we were wrapped up first.

It was a very comfortable shoot for me but I saw the struggle of the boys. They put in a lot of hard work and it is worth being a part of this film because I saw the dedication and passion of these boys for the film. It makes you feel good. Maybe someday they will make a film like this about women where they will take us and we will also play a sport. Like Chak De happened and newcomers got a chance, we actors will also get an opportunity.

From an author backed role in Corporate to a No Entry, Dhoom 2 and a small role in Omkara — how would you explain your choices of roles?

Everything is different and my choice of roles is bizarre. I go by my guts. I just want to do everything and the length of a role does not determine my doing a film or not. It is always something new, some character or some story line.

I wanted to work with Vishal Bharadwaj so I was a part of Omkara. I wanted to see myself as a rural character, even though she was a dancer. That scared me a bit because I’m not a professional dancer but I wanted to speak in that language because I’m always carrying the baggage of being a model, a fashion icon and uptown girl. I like to break it once in a while and try and do these things for my own personal satisfaction.

Even if people don’t come and applaud and pat my back, I pat my own back and I say “Well done Bipasha! You’ve done something again!”

I just believe that I have to see my own growth every year be it something very minimal or more, it doesn’t matter, it has to happen. Some growth has to be there and fortunately there has been — working with various directors, having your own inputs for a character.

I have the adaptability of looking my parts. I like to change with my parts, I don’t like to look the same and I think in that way I am doing very well.

The films that will follow are also pretty interesting. I have an Abbas-Mustan thriller Race which we shot here in Al Ain and Dubai and I had a fantastic time shooting for it.

Then I have an art house film called Pankh that is very different. I play an alter ego of a 21-year-old boy. It’s strange that his alter ego is a woman so it’s a very interesting story. I know it’s a niche story but it appeals to me and that’s why I have done it.

I’m also starting a Yash Raj film with Sidharth Anand opposite Ranbir — that’s exciting as it’s a romantic comedy after that I will do a period film with Rajkumar Santoshi. He’s an actor’s director and for the first time I’m playing a period character, a queen called Tishyarakshita and the film is called Ashok the Great. It talks about Ashok’s life post the Kalinga war and I’m looking forward to that.

It is believed that you have signed on some Hollywood films as well.

Nothing signed yet. There are a couple of lucrative offers but there is a big writer’s strike which has started in Hollywood. It’s a 6-month strike so nothing is going to go on floor at this time. We will see after that.

There are some interesting offers and I think I will be doing something but when I do I will announce it. Everyone just jumps on to it and they start asking you and there is so much pressure on you then to do it. It takes time, lot of discussions happen at times but nothing really solidifies, so I don’t want to talk without doing anything. Your films should finally speak.

What about Sir Ben Kingsley’s film on the Taj?

It’s still in a concept stage, where I have been offered the role and I have said yes but they are still writing it. So once they write and narrate then I will say yes or no. I like to speak about it when it is solid.

You are acting with John after a long hiatus, your last film together was Madhoshi.

It is 3 years actually. Never thought about it - that I have to work with him or not. We have to like similar stories.

If you have seen his films there is not much of a role for the heroine.

I was offered ‘No Smoking’ but there the cigarette plays a more important part than the heroine and in a film like Dhoom the bike plays a more important part than the heroine, so we have different likings for scripts.

It’s quite strange that for the first time both of us have liked one film together — Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.

Yes, he is playing a meatier role in the film but still the choice was mine completely that I wanted to be a part of this film. We don’t plan it.

How does it feel to be named the sexiest Asian woman? Do only physical attributes contribute towards being sexy or would you say there is more to it?

It’s exciting! I think sexy is a kind of appeal which integrates a lot of things in a man or woman. It is the way they look, the way they talk, the way they conduct themselves, their talent and success.

I think it’s a lot of everything put together. I call ‘sexy’ a package. You cannot really like something that’s just beautiful or a perfect 10. You should also know how to speak, have little intelligence, a sense of humour. Everything makes you a package and for me that would be sexy.

Recently your personal life has been under tremendous speculation, how do you take it in your stride?

Not just recently, it’s been [like this] for the last couple of years and is never stopping. It’s a part of life. Till the time people are interested in us they will keep talking. The day they stop talking then you know they are not interested. You have to be intelligent about it.

What happened to your plans of roping in Cristiano Ronaldo for promoting the film?

It was not a plan from my end to rope him in just because I know him. Our film was getting a Manchester United tie up because we had shot at the Manchester United stadium, ‘The Old Trafford’. But our film has been predominantly sponsored by Reebok and Manchester United sponsors are Nike so on a contractual level it all fell apart. Those people are so PR driven that they can’t even take a step without being answerable to what they are doing so he just couldn’t come and do a byte for our film. I just wanted him to come and give a byte to encourage football in India not just for our film but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

Striking a goal

FLASHES FROM cameras both professional and amateurs went off as the glamorous couple John Abraham and Bipasha Basu walked the red carpet at the premiere of their latest film. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the film uses professional football as a backdrop to narrate the story of the struggles of the Asian community in the UK.

Southall United is an all-Asian football club going through a major crisis with no stars, sponsors or a coach. What they have though is Hope — hope that it will win the cup this time.

The huge piece of land that belongs to the club is eyed by the head of the city council, who along with wily Sports commentator Johnny Patel played by Dalip Tahil, hopes to acquire it with the intention of converting it into a mall and amusement centre. The last hope to save the land is to win the Combined Counties Final league.

Shaan (Arshad Warsi) captain of Southall United ropes in disgraced ex-player Tony Singh (Boman Irani) as coach in a bid to save the club from extinction. The coach realises that what the team needs is a striker who can lead the attack on the opposing team.

Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) dreams of becoming a professional football player but his dreams fall apart when he does not get selected on account of the colour of his skin. Sunny has always looked down upon his community. Shaan and Sunny dislike each other intensely.

Tony manages to rope in Sunny to play for Southall. The story is about how the team overcome their personal differences to emerge victorious.

Not having enough money to appoint a medic, Shaan’s sister Rumana (Bipasha Basu) is brought in as the team’s physiotherapist. Along with the struggles of the team, the film shows the blossoming romance between Sunny and Rumana.

The film is a triumph of hope and human spirit in the face of adversity. Dealing with discrimination, the film is bound to do well in the overseas market where the Asian diaspora will be able to identify with the characters and also the multiplex audiences.

Despite having UK centric issues the film shows the victory of the underdogs and it also has emotional moments that are bound to appeal to small town and rural audiences as well. With a gripping storyline and intense performances by the cast director Vivek seems to have scored a goal this time around.

For those who would like to know what happened behind the screen during shooting, watch out for the 'Making of Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal', which airs on STAR PLUS today at 4pm.

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