Dubai: Bollywood actress Bhagyashree praises city at local pageant
We caught up with the lovely 'Maine Pyar Kiya' star on her recent visit to Dubai to attend a beauty pageant.
We best remember and love her as the good-hearted, sweet Suman in the 1989 Bollywood romantic blockbuster Maine Pyar Kiya. Now, actress Bhagyashree is excited to be returning to the big screen after many years with the highly anticipated Jayalalithaa biopic Thalaivi that stars Kangana Ranaut in the lead role.
Despite being away from Bollywood for a while, Bhagyashree continues to be in the limelight, sharing inspiring posts on social media and winning even more fans with the elegance and charm that defined actresses from her era.
She brought that special brand of charm down to Dubai on Friday, April 9, at the first edition of Miss & Mrs International Queen Dubai 2021 organised by Naari by Shrishti, held at DoubleTree by Hilton M Square, Mankhool.
We caught up with Bhagyashree while she was in the city to talk about her view on pageants in the Covid era, what she thinks of Dubai, her role in Thalaivi and why Maine Pyar Kiya has enduring appeal.
How do you feel about coming down to Dubai for the Miss & Mrs International Queen Dubai 2021 pageant?
It’s always a pleasure coming to Dubai. It’s like a complete mix of the West and East - there’s a lot of Indian culture here. You always feel at home. You feel safe, and it’s just a beautiful city to come to every time.
As far as attending this pageant is concerned, in today’s times when no events are being held, for all these women to get together and work so hard on making this happen, I felt, as a woman, I wanted to come and support them, and kind of boost their morale, saying ‘go ahead and catch your dreams’.
So of course it’s wonderful being here.
What is the significance of beauty pageants in today’s world which has been so restricted by Covid?
I feel it gives women an opportunity to step out of their homes and go after their dreams. They are interacting with different kinds of people; there’s a lot that you get to learn when people from different cultures come together at one spot. Many women do not have such opportunities, coming from probably smaller towns or restricted family backgrounds. This (kind of event) gives an opportunity to such women to learn something more and interact with different people.
Do such events boost morale and kind of put a positive vibe out there?
They definitely do and I think the positivity comes out of gaining confidence to achieve a certain thing. When you are standing there on stage in front of an audience, that itself gives you a lot of confidence. For people who are on stage for the first time, there might be a whole lot of nervousness.
But when they get off stage, they feel ‘yay, we have done it’. So it’s that kind of confidence which is very important for women to have.
Were you hesitant to travel during the pandemic?
I have been the only person getting out of my home because I have been working, shooting for my films. Coming to Dubai, I did not feel worried, the reason being my antibodies are high - I have just finished with Covid!
What has your experience of Dubai been and what are some of your favourite places to visit here?
Dubai has always been a fun and interesting city to visit. Dubai has a cauldron of cultures so you get to meet a lot of people, and for me, travel and meeting new people is one of the things that I feel educates you and takes you higher.
Dubai has everything - amazing food, just about every cuisine is there here. The finest of places, excellent service and excellent hospitality. The cleanliness is outstanding. Back home that’s something that we constantly talk about!
Dubai has (so many) things to do, like skydiving and bungee jumping or snorkeling! When I had come with my children, I took them to Atlantis and there was the aquarium and the water park… so there is something for every age group in Dubai which I feel is fantastic. You’re not bored.
And Dubai’s got just about everything that you want to learn. Like the women who came up on stage at the pageant - someone said they learned Taekwondo, someone took a dance class...
We often see fitness posts on your Instagram handle. How beneficial has your love for fitness been during the pandemic, when everyone was practically home-bound?
Well if people have been following my Instagram, when the first lockdown in India happened, I did an entire 21-day home workout. When people couldn’t go to the gym and they couldn’t use equipment, I actually gave them workouts, and I did them myself as well.
I said, you don’t have to go out. You don’t need a lot of space. Within the confines of your bedroom, there are exercises that you can do! Personally I feel that movement is medicine. So if you keep yourself moving and active you raise the immunity of your body, you raise the strength of your body and you take care of your digestion.
They say the gut is the second brain, so when you can digest well, you keep your gut happy. And your brain is happy!
Your son Abhimanyu Dassani is following in your footsteps of becoming an actor. What advice did you give him about the industry when he first told you of his plans?
I didn’t give him advice about getting into the industry. What I did tell him is ‘be nice to people’. Because blessings are what takes you ahead in life.
The industry is a place where no one person can say that ‘we made the film a success’. It is everyone’s combined effort which allows us to see the final product on screen - be it the cinematographer, the director, the people on the set, the guys who make the set, the light guys, the sound recordist... You should keep everyone happy, speak to them nicely and give everyone respect! I think that’s the most important thing because when you conduct yourself in that manner a lot of goodwill and blessings are created.
As far as his work in films is concerned, he charts his own course.
While male Bollywood stars continue to get the same kind of roles as they age the same is not the case for heroines. Do you feel actresses get a raw deal after they cross a certain age? Is that trend changing now?
Well it’s changing gradually. Though I would love to perform in more roles and do better things, I also feel that films actually reflect life. So it’s just about now that the whole mentality of patriarchal society is changing. As husband and wife, people are comfortable with both working together. Or the woman going out and following her dreams. Girl children are getting educated.
So gradually the concept of seeing a woman on screen not just as a mother or an aunt or a sister, but as probably a judge, a police officer, or even a lawyer… is gaining traction. When one considers the hero of a film you think ‘this could be a man’, but why? It could be a woman, too. But this difference has come now. Cinema reflects life and we are seeing a lot of women in every field today and eventually that is going to get translated into cinema.
You are best remembered for your wonderful debut in Maine Pyar Kiya. When we interviewed you in 2014 you mentioned how you felt the innocence of romance is missing from today’s films. Why are old films (like MPK and many others) still so popular, you think?
All stories (like MPK) touch your heart. It’s not a fairytale, it’s achievable. It’s something that is possible - and you want to have the possibility of a perfect life. I think Maine Pyar Kiya did that. It gave a sense of romance, of brotherhood, of family life, of everything. It’s what everyone would want in their lives and that’s why you like to see such films.
You’re making a comeback on the big screen after many years with Thalaivi. What would you like to say to your fans here in the UAE?
Don’t look for Suman in Thalaivi (laughs), because that isn’t a ‘Suman’ character. But it’s great to get back to work, I have been missing from the big screen for a very, very long time. So go ahead and see the movie; I would want my fans to love me in this new role that I’m doing!
A COVID-CONSCIOUS BEAUTY PAGEANT
The Miss & Mrs International Queen Dubai 2021 was organized by fashion designer Shrishti Tiwari.
The pageant hosted by actor Aman Yatan Varma was judged by actor Aarti Nagpal, Mrs India International 2018 Kareena Gehi, Reena Rai and Dr. Ajay Sahai. Also present were Bollywood actress Padmini Kohlapure and actor Sooraj Thapar.
The winner of Mrs International Queen Dubai was Soniya Lilaramani - the first runner up in this category was Rupa Jha and the second runner up was Pratibha Jha. Urja Pugalia won the title of Miss International Queen Dubai. The first runner up in this category was Anushka Arya and the second runner up was Madhurima Nayak.