I did Raaz in 2002, then Rakth in I think 2005 or 2006, I don’t exactly remember the year. And then I did Raaz 3 after a big gap. Then I did Aatma and now Alone. So as much as you guys make it sound like I’ve done a lot of horror films, I haven’t actually. But compared to other actors, yeah I have. But with my filmography of having 60 films, I still think that it’s not that much. Plus I’ve done more thrillers; I must have done like 30 of them, but nobody asked me any questions about thrillers. I should actually be the thriller queen instead of the horror queen. But anyways I don’t mind being the queen of anything. It’s always the script and the character. Each one of my supernatural films are a human drama first, whether it was Raaz where I played a modern day Savitri or Rakht where I play a tarot card reader and Raaz 3, I played the role of a decaying actress who didn’t want to have her downfall. She would go to any level to keep her stardom. Then I played a beautiful mother-daughter relationship in Aatma. And now it’s Alone where I play conjoined twins who are in love with one person. And it’s a triangular love story. I chose to do the film because it’s a passionate love story and I’ve not done a love story for a very long time.
Which is your favourite genre otherwise?
I don’t have a favourite genre. I wouldn’t be an actor if I had one. I don’t want to limit myself, and I never have. I think I am one of the most adventurous actresses, which is why I am getting into the horror genre – it’s because it is a genre that is not quite touched by the rest of the fraternity.
You’re playing the ghost in this movie. How did you approach the role?
It is very tough to play a ghost. Getting scared is easy, but playing the ghost was extremely difficult. Firstly I’ve been a model and an actor and a glamorous actor at that, who’s not used to seeing herself looking very bad at times. So here when my director was saying “Bipasha, turn and snarl”, I said “Snarl?! I’ve never snarled!” He said “Try”. I replied, “I don’t know how to do that” Then he showed me and I was like “Uhhh I don’t want to do this”. So you’re inhibited. But then when you’re playing a part, then you feel “Better do it right once, than do it wrong ten times” So I would believe in that and then do it. And I have to say that when I saw the film, it’s rough, without special effects and just me; I’m so scary. Just by saying the dialogues, I got so scared of my own self. So I did it pretty well, without knowing what I was doing. Like really the ghost bit, I just did not know. I totally trusted Bhushan. He would say “Up it up a little bit, take it down a bit”. So I would follow his instructions.
Which is your favourite horror film?
Internationally, The Shining, and in India, Raaz and Raaz 3 for sure. They’re very close to my heart, and now Alone looks like it can top both of them.
How difficult was it to play the conjoined twins?
Very difficult. I like to be free. Then I was attached to this body double for a whole day. She’s a very sweet girl, but still I don’t like to be stuck with someone. I used to think that their lives are so sad, they have to go to the bathroom together and it’s just a sad life. But you are so together; that is why Sanjana and Anjana have such a beautiful bond of sisters, yet their love for another person makes them enemies. And then there is the triangular love story because both the sisters fall in love with one person. And to shoot it was very tough. It was because I had to dress up like Sanjana and do the entire scene with the body double who would not give me any cues because she doesn’t know acting. So the sound of the girl would come from somewhere else and I had to look at her, react and act. And then I had to change, be the other girl, do the entire scene and they would measure the distance, the head turn, everything was too technical, very tough. Firstly playing twins is tough, conjoined is tougher.
What are some of the psychological effects of working in a dark movie?
You know the only dark film that I’ve done is Raaz 3. Supernatural is still okay to deal with because I never really put the make-up on my face. If I did put the make-up on my face, I could have scarred myself for life and I didn’t want to do that. So my director did everything in special effects and alone. But in Raaz 3 I played a very dark character. A very dark, evil person who stoops down to black magic to get what she wants. And she was a little imbalanced at times, like you know giving up love just for her work. She would actually want to kill her half-sister. She was jealous, dark and evil and every day at the end of the day, I would feel low and be sapped of all my energy. There was one interval sequence where I actually break down after my fight with Emran. In the film I’m laughing; I just burst out laughing because I’ve been humiliated by Emran, and slapped. And he’s pushed me to that level that I just say that I’m going to get back to him and I keep laughing. But in reality, I’d pushed myself so much that after the cut, I bawled like a child. I was right in that carpet, putting my face there because I could not understand how somebody could be so dark and evil and I’d pushed myself to the limit. So yeah to play dark characters is disturbing.
How do you approach characters like that? Do you look within yourself to find some aspect of you to play that with or do you observe other people?
This was really tough. I’ve always felt that I’m a very secure person and that’s always been my energy and I’m confident in my skin. But playing Shanaya Shekhar in Raaz 3; it kind of tapped a few things that I got to know about myself, where I realised that there could be subtle insecurities in me too. That was a revelation and I got it from the world. Because this business is so aspirational that people go to any length to be there on top and to just get work or to just start work in this business. I’ve seen a lot of things happening around me and thankfully I’m not such an overambitious person; I live a very simple life. But because you’ve seen so much of it; like actresses make statements like “My life is all about my work; work is what my resolution is and work is my life and worship”. These are things which I’ve never understood; for me my life is my worship. I want to live life. And work is an aspect of that, work is not everything. But playing this part I realised what these people could be thinking. So yeah I understood people around me better.
Does it disturb you emotionally?
No I don’t let it because I lead a very normal life. I don’t let it affect me. The business has never changed me. Right from the time I stepped into it until now, I’ve been pretty much the same. I’ve lived in this business on my own terms and I have led a very full life. And I’m very grateful that I’m in this position where I can drive a lot of things that I believe in, with the kind of love that I’ve received over 14 years. I drive my belief in passion and fitness. If I was not an actress nobody would listen to me. Why would they listen to me? Today I have the podium to talk about my passions and so I’m using it wisely.
So along with your career apart from being called the Queen of Horror, you’ve also been slotted as a sex symbol. Hasn’t there been a time where you’ve thought that people should look beyond what I look like and see what I’m doing?
No they do. The fact that I’ve lasted 14 years, you know that they ask questions like “Why don’t you work with the Khans?”These are the questions that I get. It’s not that I don’t want to work; it’s just not happened. Now there are a lot a people who have worked with the Khans and disappeared after two films, and that too in the biggest of blockbusters. So if I have lasted 14 years that means my credibility shows. Someone who is just a sex symbol can’t last for 14 years. Every year you have to reinvent yourself as a person, as a human being and as the actor that you are. There are things that I’m loved for, I have made a niche for myself, and that’s why I’m here. There’s no other math to it, you can’t apply any other logic to it. The fact that people like seeing me is why I’m here. If not, then there’s no way in hell I would be here – because I’m not good at my PR, I’m not good at pleasing people, I’m not good at going to parties and making an appearance. After work I just want to go to the gym. So every time my manager says, “You have to go to this party Bipasha, you promised”. I say, “I’m going, I’m going” but everybody knows that at the last minute, you’ll find me in the gym. So I’d rather go and have my alone time doing the things that I like to do, like going and spend some time with my niece which I don’t get to do much, or go and work out. Then you know, just for the sake of attendance, go to that party. You know they’re very nice people. It’s just that when they are so many people at the party; I’d rather have one on one time with people at some other point in time and have fun rather than just like dress up again and have to be subjected to the “who wore what for that party” and “who looked the best” and “which stylist did what”. I just don’t understand it. I’m not made like that and that’s been my attitude from day one till now.
So looking back at the 14 years you’ve been in the industry, how far do you think you’ve come?
I’ve become very professional. Earlier, I was a real brat. I used to say “Eh, I don’t want to work every day, I’m going to Goa”. My manager was Jatin Rajguru. He was a really filmy manager, a really sweet person. He has handled actresses like Karishma Kapoor and people who were born into film families and where everything was only films. And here I came from a modelling background where I would say “Now I want to go to Goa”. They would ask me, “Why?” I would say, “I want to just lie on the beach and tan”. They’d respond incredulously with “Why do you want to tan? You’re so dark already!” (laughs). Those were my desires. My manager could never get me on the phone; I would just put my phone and take off. So I used to be like that. But over the period of a few years I realised. Vikram Bhatt was very instrumental in actually pulling my ears and telling me “You better be responsible to the opportunities that are coming your way”. After Raaz, in between while shooting, I wanted to go back to college because I had not done college. I said “Now I’m bored of modelling and now I’ve done one film that has done really well (Ajnabee). I never expected anything out of it. Now suddenly I’m acting and I have to work every day” I said “But no I have to study”. He said “You know there are people who really want this position and you’re getting it. So make use of it”. So slowly I became professional. Once I’m on set, I am always there. But to get me to do many movies, that was tough, because money never excited me. It’s never been my motivation. Yes in today’s time, I live a very luxurious life, I live independently and for that I need money. But that was never my number one motivation. Now I’m very professional and I love the medium. I love acting and I love films. I’m not that actress who just comes on set and leaves. I’m the actress who stays in the prep and the post and the promotion. So I’m totally involved in the filmmaking process. And yeah I’m trying to do my bit, trying to keep myself excited. So that’s the thing, somebody really tells me what to do. And once I heard somebody and made a decision, it was like a disaster. So I’d rather make my own mistakes and learn from them, and that’s the way these 14 years have been. I’ve never had a plan; it’s just moving beautifully at a relaxed pace.
Do have any regrets?
None. I’m happy with what I have and I’m happy with the course my life has taken. I believe in working hard and I feel that to succeed in life you have to be sincere in what you are doing and really put your heart into it.
Are you affected by the rumours of the link-ups?
As long as they’re cute, I don’t mind it. I always say that as long as they’re cute and single, no problem. Yeah that’s my only condition.
Would you call yourself an introvert?
No never. I’m like Casper, The Friendly Ghost. I speak my heart. I’m not guarded at all and I don’t like guarded people much.
When you look into the mirror what do you see?
I see a drama queen – I like to think I bring a lot of joy in people’s lives
What is your take on beauty foods?
I don’t really know what is actually meant by beauty foods. I eat a lot of healthy foods at regular intervals, and it depends on my mood too. Sometimes grilled chicken with salads and fruit, while sometimes it is just simple vegetables, daal, and chapattis. When I go out I like to eat Chinese as I find it quite light and I also enjoy sea food. I also like ghar ka khaana, chicken curry and fish curry. I eat almost everything, there is no set pattern.
What is your beauty regime?
I clean my face and moisturise as well as apply sunblock to protect my skin from overexposure to UV rays. I also drink lots of water and green tea.
What does fitness mean to you?
In my dictionary being fit doesn’t mean being pencil-thin. It’s about being comfortable with your body. Eating right doesn’t mean starving yourself and staying away from all the fun things in life. I think it’s important for one to enjoy life. Try not to lead a sedentary lifestyle, get active and eat right.
Do you have any fitness tips for our readers?
Love and appreciate yourself just the way you are. Once you learn to love yourself, everything will fall into place. Start treating your body like a temple and start worshipping it. Give time to yourself and engage in physical activity. This will help you beat stress as well as fight diseases in your later years. Also don’t neglect your sleep – we all need 8 hours of sound sleep.
Meaning of your name: The deep dark desire
Bipasha Basu Zodiac: Capricorn
Bipasha Basu Favourite Accessory: Bangles
Bipasha Basu Favourite Drink: Juice
Bipasha Basu Favourite Cuisine: Chinese and Thai
Bipasha Basu Favourite Holiday Destination: Goa
Bipasha Basu Favourite Makeup Brands: Clinique, Chanel, Bobbi Brown, and M.A.C.
Bipasha Basu Favourite Movie Era: Today’s era, where I am an actor!
Three things you can’t live without: Family, work, and food
You’re addicted to: Good music, good food, and exercise
The real Bipasha Basu is: Simple and fun
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