Delight in Disorder - Ileana D'Cruz
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Fixing her imperfect teeth would rob her of her individuality. Ileana D’Cruz tells Shweta Kulkarni she would rather stand apart and make her own routes…and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t!
Calm and composed, reserved yet welcoming, and definitely pretty – all these words can describe Ileana D’Cruz from my tête-à-tête, but the one thing that most struck me about her, is her desire to be different from the herd and to not lose her individuality. While other actresses would go the extra mile to set their imperfections rights, Ileana, who marked her arrival in Hindi films with the heartwarming portrayal of Shruti Gosh in BARFI!, is happy with the way she is.
“I think in this world where people expect perfect-looking women to be heroines, I would like to be the different one, in a way. I can’t be looking like anybody else, and I need to retain my individuality. I do not have the most perfect set of teeth and I have been told so by many dentists. They say, ‘We saw your film and you look good and perform well but your teeth aren’t right. We can fix it for you.’ And I am like, NO. I am not going to do anything! I am perfect the way I am. I am going to leave my teeth the way they are. I think that brings character, a difference that makes me stand out. I do not want to blend in. I would rather stand apart and be someone different. I will make my own routes and I will make my own set of ways. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” she announces vehemently.
Post BARFI!, with three other films in her kitty, one of which – PHATA POSTER NIKLA HERO – is about to release, it’s obvious that Ileana has hit the right note so far. “My character Kajal in PHATA POSTER NIKLA HERO is drastically different from what I did in BARFI! and, to be honest, I am scared about how the audience will react to it,” she confesses. “When I was doing BARFI! I didn’t think it would become such a big hit. None of us ever thought that it would do so well; for us, we were making a really good, honest film. However, the success that the film saw was amazing – doing so well at the box office, winning so many awards, it was great. So I think all that has raised expectations really high for me. I had to ensure that people do not expect me to do only these kinds of serious roles, which is why I wanted to do a film which was different. When Rajji (Raj Kumar Santoshi) narrated the story of PHATA… to me, I was laughing so hard and I was like, ‘Oh my god…will I be able to pull this off?!’ It was challenging in a different way. The stuff that this girl Kajal does is unbelievable. She is in the middle of everything. She is tomboyish, she is bratty, she is all over the place and she is a brave girl, which is a complete contrast to my role in BARFI!. Shruti was a soft dignified quiet woman but this one is insane! She is like a firework. So, you see the contrast in these two characters… it scares me what people will think of it. I am hoping for the best, so let’s see.”
Ileana has a successful career down South with a number of hit films to boast of… Was building an interesting cache of Hindi films too, always on the cards? “For me, it was about doing a different film. I have worked in the South for six years so it wasn’t that I had to work in Hindi films. Many people even asked what took me so long to do a Hindi film. But for me, I think I just waited for the right film which would be worth coming here for. So BARFI! kind of made that possible for me. It felt like a film that I really wanted to do. It had a beautiful story and I knew I had to be part of such a film.”
Definitely a wise decision. It not only gave her ample scope to perform but also opened the doors of the Hindi film industry for her, which is not child’s play. “A lot of people say that it’s very difficult to work in this industry, but then they say the same of every film industry whether it’s South or Hindi films,” she says thoughtfully, adding, “And I think it’s definitely true. It’s not easy to work in Hindi films; actually it’s not easy to work in any film industry. The only thing that differentiates Hindi films from other industries is that it has such a wide reach; there is a huge majority of people who watch Hindi films. So you have a much bigger set of eyes watching you, as opposed to a South film. And it all mounts on you, that sort of pressure. But in the end, no matter how much of a pretty face you may be, what matters is whether you are talented or not. That is the trigger. So you need to have a certain amount of screen presence, you need to have a certain amount of confidence…you need to have a whole list of things. You need to please the critics, you need to please your audience, you need to impress your director and producers, and you need to fit a certain image requirement. Nothing is simple. You need to dance, you need to look pretty, so many things!”
…Plus ensuring that you hold your own in the presence of a hero, who holds fort in most of our films. “I have only worked with Ranbir so far and now Shahid but I think there wasn’t the fear of being shadowed ever. I mean, I do not worry about how I will look on screen. I just go ahead and do the best I can. I think when you worry about whether you would be seen or whether your role is not significant enough, then you are not giving your 100 percent. I know for a fact that I cannot worry about anybody else’s work. I need to do my own work; I need to impress my director with my work. So I go with that notion on the sets.”
Following on the heels of PHATA… will be HAPPY ENDING and MAIN TERA HERO… Things are definitely looking brighter for her here. Does this mean it’s time to bid adieu to South films? “I have not signed anything in the South right now but it’s not like it’s a conscious decision to only do Hindi films. For someone like me, establishing myself in a film industry is difficult… it takes time. You cannot come in over here and become an overnight star. Yes, I did get success with BARFI! but you’ve got to prove yourself in time. It takes a while and people do not say you are a fab heroine with just one film. Also, my first film was not a commercial film. I did not have the songs; I did not have the looks of a typical heroine. So I am giving it a lot of time, I am taking my time here,” she pauses to collect her thoughts. “I do want to establish myself properly here. At the moment, I don’t have the dates to give in the South but I am definitely not saying bye-bye to the South. I would love to work in South films again. I started my career there so there is a definite comfort level there.”
Making it big in HiFI appears to be her dream at the moment… “My dream is to be a singer,” she surprises me with her reply. “I have always dreamt of being a singer; I never wanted to be an actress. But I also know that it’s a dream that requires lots of commitment, patience and hard work. I love singing. Singing is something that I lose myself in and I know that I will get back to it. Though I have never learnt it professionally, I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I have participated in competitions here and there but it has been a while - almost 10 years since I have sung in front of the public. However, I will do it one day. I will get back to training. But I wouldn’t want it to be influenced by my being an actress…I want to do it separately.”
This article first appeared in October 2013 issue of Cine Blitz magazine.
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