She’s perhaps one of the most unconventional debutantes Bollywood has seen in recent years. Hailing from Britian, it was her love for the music, dance, glamour and glitz of Bollywood that brought her here across the seven seas. Hazel Crowney worked her charm in Robby Grewal’s youthful love story Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar and now is set to shed her foreign look and take on the persona of a village belle in Flat. I managed to uncover just what brought this fine actress to India, how she’s surviving in the big bad world of Bollywood and what exactly makes Hazel tick. Read on to find the answers to all these questions and much more in this exclusive interview with Hazel.
Firstly, what made you decide to pursue a career in films?
I’m basically a show off and like attention!
More specifically, when was it that you decided you would foray into Indian cinema and why Indian cinema?
It has to be the music and dance that attracted me
Prior to visiting India, how much exposure had you had to Indian cinema?
Not much apart from seeing the odd snippet on TV and also going into Asian sweet shops in UK, you also see Bollywood stuff playing on the TV’s.
Indian cinema has quite a unique format such as the use of songs, dance, emphasis on glamour, etc. What is your take on this format?
I love it. It’s fun stuff you never see in day to day life.
Initially for your debut and perhaps even now, do you think you faced and are still facing difficultly in the Industry with limited to no contacts?
Well I’m sure it would have been easier to debut with a big banner if I did have connections but starting with modeling and getting exposure through ads really helped and gave me great experience.
How are you adjusting to life in India?
It takes time, and the trick is not to constantly compare India to the West where things go a little more smoothly.
Are you open to doing English Indian films ala Monsoon Wedding, Leela and Being Cyrus?
Honestly speaking, and this might not be the right answer, but I’m much more keen on masala movies!
Do you think you’d ever like to venture into Western cinema?
I’d like to, one day if I get the opportunity.
You’ve been dubbing for your films yourself despite having said your Hindi is still improving. Why didn’t you take the easy way out and opt for a dubbing artist?
It depends on the role; for MP3, polished Hindi wasn’t required but for my next film, Flat, the character is traditional and will need to be dubbed with perfect Hindi.
What sort of training are you going through to learn Hindi and is there any formal acting training involved also?
I’ve taken thousands of Hindi classes and also watch Hindi films as much as I can. But for now, I interact with locals as much as I can.
You had a chance to work with Ajay Devgan and Kajol in U Me Aur Hum. How was that experience and how did you become a part of this project?
I think Ajay saw me in MP3 and liked me. Working with Ajay was great; he’s really friendly and helpful. I didn’t have much interaction with Kajol.
You are to appear in Flat opposite Sanjay Suri and Jimmy Shergil. The movie sounds very enthralling. What avatar are you opting for in this film?
I’m playing the character of a village girl and what attracted me most is the fact that it will be a challenge playing her, and no one will expect to see me in this avatar.
Interestingly enough, you’ve also done a Middle Eastern item number in Mittal v Mittal. How was that experience and are you open to doing more item numbers?
I loved it. Yes, definitely as dancing is my main passion.
When you read the scripts of all the movies you have done so far, what was the main attractive feature that made you say yes?
MP3 was non-controversial and allowed me to get into Hindi films gently as there was no huge dialogues which would have scared me at that time. With Flat I was ready for a challenge and the script and character are really exciting.
What type of roles do you think you’d like to be given the chance to portray?
Dance based roles and also ones with lots of emotions.
Lastly Hazel, we’ll end with my “Prathna Pooche”. A section which basically consists of five short-answer questions in relation to cinema. So here goes.
1. A role you’ve seen in recent times which you wish you had a opportunity to do?
Priyanka Chopra’s in Fashion
2. An actress or actor who inspires you?
3. Your favorite track from your film MP3?
‘Who Am I’
4. A director you’ve been dying to work with?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
5. Name three of your all time favourite films?
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Pretty Woman & Grease.
Well, Hazel only has one full-fledged release to her credit but she has already made a special place for herself in both the industry and in the heart of the audiences. We simply cannot imagine what will happen a couple of years down the line. For now Hazel, keep rocking Bollywood and all the best for the future!