She lights up the screen whenever she comes into the frame but it is not only her supermodel looks that makes directors and audiences come back for more: Bipasha Basu also has the acting ability to back it up. The actress certainly has not relied on her beauty alone, because many of the roles she chooses have been quite challenging and the films have been more off than on the traditional filmi path. Bipasha is once again veering away from the conventional hero/heroine film in her role as Zoe in the suspense thriller Dum Maaro Dum. Like all the characters in Dum Maaro Dum, there is an underlying darker story to Zoe and the transformation from someone fun-loving to someone hardened by life was one of the aspects that drew Bipasha to the role. Directed by Rohan Sippy, the film also stars Abhishek Bachchan, Prateik Babbar, and newcomer Rana Dagubatti, who plays Bipasha’s love interest in the film. Bipasha recently talked with us about Dum Maaro Dum – check out what she had to say about working with the cast, about smoking a cigarette for the first time, and what she loves about the film!
What goes into your decision of which roles to say yes to?
You know, I treat films like an audience, and if on a narration level I feel that I want to watch this film, then I just go with my gut and just do it. Also, I’m not an actor who’s gone to an acting school or anything. Everything in my life has always been based on instinct and that’s how I choose my films – by my gut.
What was it about Zoe that made you want to play that character?
Well, it was more because of the film. I think it’s a very new film. The treatment is very, very different. Rohan is a fantastic director and Zoe was going to be presented in a very, very new manner. This film particularly is not about hero/heroines. It’s about playing characters. That’s what I liked. It’s not like the quintessential Hindi films that we see. It’s got a new touch to it.
So who is Zoe? What is her story?
Dum Maaro Dum is a film where there are three stories running parallel. They always interlink somehow. My story works with Rana, the new actor. Zoe is a girl from Goa who aspires to be an air hostess and she’s a fun loving, full-of-life kind of a girl, but circumstances change her. Her need to be somebody, and the things that happen in her life, change her completely. There is a kind of a complete transformation in Zoe from the first half to the second half. When you see the film you’ll understand where she fits in.
How do you prepare yourself to be somebody who transforms so much from one part to the next?
For the preparation behind Zoe I think the look was very important. I had to look like two different people in the same film and also act like two different people. Also, little bits and pieces. Basically in the first part Zoe is very lively and later on her life has become very different -she’s become harsher towards the end. I don’t know – I am quite an instinctive actor as I said, when I go on set and once I am in the costume of that particular character I just do it. The guidance of the director always helps.
In his particular film one funny thing was that Rohan wanted me to smoke for a scene and I am an anti-smoker. So for half a day I was actually trying to roll a cigarette. I was pathetic! I was really bad at rolling it. Then I smoked that one cigarette and it was not a very good experience. Finally, when we did that scene Rohan didn’t want me to smoke so I was pretty happy. Now because of Rohan I can say that I’ve smoked at least one cigarette. That was not a very happy thing for me (laughs). I rather eat some nice tasty food than smoke, you know (laughs).
So tell us about working with the director Rohan Sippy.
Rohan is a very easy director, lots of fun, very friendly. He is open to ideas, if you have a take on your character or somebody else’s you can always talk to him. It’s very easy reaching out to Rohan. He is very chilled out and I think the space of our film is also like that. Every character – none of us overact. We are very, very easy and very, very real as the characters.
You said your main story is with Rana the new actor. Tell us about working with him. I think I had read somewhere that you had to help him with his Hindi. Is that true?
Yes. He’s a South Indian actor and he really does not know much Hindi, but now he does. He put in a lot of hard work and a lot of effort to know his dialogues. There were times where we would do rehearsals and he would know my dialogues and the other actors’ dialogues also. The first day I asked him, “Have you learned the entire script by heart? Like, what’s going on? You know every dialogue!” He was that good. He would surprise us. He’s a very, very sweet guy – he puts in a lot of effort and I think he’s going to surprise people because he’s got tremendous presence on screen. He looks very good and is a very powerful actor.
Do you have a favorite song?
I have a favorite song called ‘Te Amo’, a romantic song which is amazing. Title track ‘Dum Maaro Dum’, which is being done by the Midival Punditz for our background score, is just fantastic. That one I totally love. There is also one song called ‘Jiyein Kyun’ which is a very emotional song. It’s beautiful.
What was the best thing working on this film?
You know, the whole experience. When you finally come out of a film, what stays with you? Yes, you’ve done a film. Yes, it’s out there for people to judge. But what you take away from the film is the experience with people on set. If you make new connections, new friends, you know, that is something to take a little longer back in your life. I think I definitely connected with Rana. I think Rana is a friend. I can chat with him, call him at any point in time. Rohan is very, very warm and very friendly. I can hang with these guys. Abhishek has been an old friend anyways. I didn’t have much to do with Prateik, but he’s an extremely sweet guy. The DOP of the film, Amit Roy, is a great friend now. So that’s it – it is the human connections you make while at work that is really great.
What do you think audiences will love about Dum Maaro Dum?
I think it’s a funky, new age thriller and the youth will like it. The treatment is very different. It’s shot amazingly. The characters, as I said, are very real. Music is good. And yeah, I guess it’s a film that’s not going to bore you. You have to catch the audience and make them sit for 2 hours 20 mins and I hope people like it for that time (laughs).
So, what do you love about being an actress?
I am in a profession that I love. I think for a human being to find the work that they like to do is very important. And for me the work has come to me rather than me trying to figure out what I want to do in life. I still really enjoy it. I am still here. You get love from people who don’t even know you, what kind of person you really are. There are people all over the world they love you for the work that you do and they really, really wish you well. It’s a very fulfilling job besides the money, besides the luxury. I think the only downside is you know sometimes people want to write you off, but for me that is a very, very small negative. The positives are way too big.
What other films do you have coming after Dum Maaro Dum?
Right now I’m working on Singularity, my first English film, with Roland Joffe and I’m working on Players with Abbas-Mustaan.
Dum Maaro Dum hits theaters on Friday, April 22nd! Stay tuned because we have even more with interviews with both director Rohan Sippy and actor Abhishek Bachchan!