Most promising

Subhash K Jha


She may sizzle on screen in skimpy attire but Lara Dutta says in real life she is a traditional Punjabi girl who never even wears tops that expose her midriff What sort of a person are you?

Though I’ve been exposed to a lot of influences I basically come from a traditional Punjabi family. That, I think, gives me an edge. I can be sensuous as well as the girl next door.

Your item song “Aisa Jadoo” in ‘Khakee’ was a rage...Raj Kumar Santoshi handled it well. We shot for 12 hours a day over a period of five days. But the response has been quite overwhelming. People have called from outside India because they want to hear my voice after seeing the song. But those are Sunidhi Chauhan’s vocals.

Weren’t you apprehensive about doing an item song so early in your career?

I was. But the decisive factor was Raj Santoshi. I hadn’t met him before. But he had a track record of successful item songs with Mamta Kulkarni in ‘Ghaatak’, Urmila Matondkar in ‘China Gate’ and ‘Lajja’; so it wasn’t just an exploitative gimmick.

Among the new faces of 2003, you’ve made the optimum impact?

Being a complete outsider in the film industry with no formal training in acting, that truly gives me a feeling of satisfaction. A lot of hard work has gone into getting here, to prove that I’m not just a flash in the pan.

I thought you were miscast in ‘Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost’?

What I did and what finally went on the screen weren’t the same. I shot a lot more.

How do you avoid being exploited on screen?

You learn as you go along. Right now I’m doing Boney Kapoor’s ‘No Entry’ where I play a traditional wife and yet there’s a sequence where my husband (Anil Kapoor) imagines me doing a hot number. I guess that’s bound to happen.

But I don’t want my hard work as an actress to be undermined. I’m growing aware of how to avoid this pitfall. Because once you get the image of a hot babe, you can’t get it out of the audiences’ minds.

What are you doing with Anil Kapoor in ‘No Entry’?

I’m part of two comedies, ‘Masti’ and ‘No Entry’. Apart from the fact that there’re three married couples in both stories, there’re no similarities between the two films. Bipasha Basu plays the catalyst in ‘No Entry’.

Do you feel there’s a dearth of leading men for you?

Not at all! I’ve worked with everyone from Akki (Akshay Kumar) to Bobby Deol to Anil Kapoor. The only problem is I’m not a small-built girl! So to be cast with everyone isn’t possible... I was recently offered a role with Saif Ali Khan. Much as I’d have liked to work with him I don’t think we’d look compatible.

Since Priyanka Chopra and you are vying for the same roles, isn’t it ridiculous to claim you are friends?

We’ve never claimed to be best friends hanging around with each other every day. We’re competitors in the same field. But I’d hate to have an attitude towards her just because she’s vying for the same roles. I think Priyanka is very talented. I don’t think we’re up for the same slot. Both of us will definitely create our own slots. And filmmakers will know whom they want for which role.

So what’s there to look forward to from Lara Dutta?

I thoroughly enjoyed doing Vikram Bhatt’s ‘Jurm’. It’s very different from anything I’ve done so far. In E Niwas’s ‘Bardasht’ I get to be a lawyer. I’ve another film with Vikram, ‘Elaan’. I’ve done all my stunts myself. So I guess I’ve finally done a Lara Croft! Now I’ve a fairly good idea of what I can do and can’t do. I’m signing fewer films.

Apoorva Lakhia’s ‘Just Punjabi’ with Amitabh Bachchan and Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) is one of the films I’ve signed. I’ve something interesting brewing with Prakash Jha.

You belong to the exclusive faithful-boyfriend club.

Having Kelly Dorjy around makes a world of a difference. Having been in a relationship with him for many years, there’s no insecurity or anxious moments, no have-to-be-with-him-every-moment feelings. We’re mature and secure in our relationship. Having him around makes my co-stars treat me like one of the boys.