Bipasha Basu: I am in love with ghosts!
Bipasha Basu is currently doing more horror films than any of her contemporaries – and it’s working for her. The actor is now busy promoting her second movie in the genre in a row after the box office success of Raaz 3; she is also getting all set to be a part of Vikram Bhatt’s next spooky project, Creature. When I walked into the coffee shop of a suburban five star hotel to talk to her about Aatma, the horror genre and her co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bips was in one of her best moods yet – making faces, mimicking child actor Doyel, chatting about everything from her parents to the current state of Indian cinema. And all this despite being unwell after a bout of food poisoning! I was not surprised, because Bips just loves to talk. And she did…
You are doing yet another horror film with Aatma…you seem to have developed an affinity for the genre!
I think I have fallen in love with ghosts! And if this movie becomes a super duper hit, which hopefully it will be, then I’ll definitely say that I am totally in love with ghosts. The thing is that more than being in love with horror flicks, I am in love with those movies. I never thought I’d do two back to back horror flicks, but the stories were so good and scope for performance was so much that I would be foolish as an actor not to do it.
But even after doing so many horror movies you get scared…
Yes. If you would have spoken a little louder, I have would have jumped. That is not changing, I guess.
Are you trying to change your image by trying to do more performance oriented roles?
I never have a plan in place. I never thought of becoming an actor. I became an actor by chance. Whatever I have done, I have done based on my gut feeling. It’s been an amazing journey, with enough highs and lows. Every year has taught me something. What it is taking me towards is the fact that I am a much more evolved actor today. If I look at myself and I compare, I feel I am a much better actor now than when I started off. There is no particular thought process but, yes, on a weekly basis I am offered ten horror films. I get synopses and scripts. I think I am becoming a horror specialist or something! So after Creature I need to take a break.
Honestly, we write really bad roles for the women. Except Vidya Balan, amongst my contemporaries, who can really boast of the great films they have done? They might be Rs 100 crore films, but if you really look into the movie, I don’t know what content is in there for the girl. I think each one us is really talented, but we don’t have the projects to showcase it.
So if a horror film has a meaty role, then why not take it up? I have done enough of all this for 12 years – looking pretty, being the girl and doing whatever a heroine is supposed to do.
So does Aatma offer the opportunity to not do these things?
Definitely! I play a mother and after doing this role I think I can be a fantastic mother! My character of Maya is something that made me evolve. There are very few roles where you feel that kind of connect. This role actually makes you understand the importance of parental attachments. You understand that if you are in a bad relationship, then you need to get out. Sometimes we stay in a relationship in the name of love or children or society. But is it worth being in a relationship that is abusive? In a way you are abusing your own life by doing so. Aatma is a very well rounded human drama and not just a horror film. Also, I don’t like when people look down on a horror film. This movie has a lot more content than most films.
You said you wanted to give the horror genre a break after Creature…
I hope so. Now I have said it and it has been recorded. I just hope I can stick to my word! What if another great horror flick is offered…damn…(laughs)
Horror films have become the ‘in’ thing recently. But do you think the concept can get repetitive?
I have done back to back horror films – with Vikram Bhatt and with Suparn Verma – and there is no similarity between the two. They are different in the way they have been made, the way the sound design is or the way the shots have been taken. A director can have his own take when he taps horror. I saw the trailer of Go Goa Gone, which is Saif Ali Khan’s film, and they are doing completely new stuff with horror – and that’s interesting.
You and Nawazuddin Siddiqui come from completely different acting methods. What was it like working with someone like him?
He is a trained actor. I am an instinctive actor because I don’t come from any school of acting and he is a method actor, but when we came on the sets both of us realised that we don’t like to do more than three takes, because we know that our best is in those three. After that it’s very rehearsed and mechanical. We both like to do the whole scene together. We don’t like to do it in bits. We like to plan the scene, we work out the movement so the lighting is in place and we both do a master. We do the full scene so we can stay in the emotion. Very, very rarely do actors in India want to do that. When I find actors like that I love it, because then the scene feels so real.
Have you started getting more involved in the whole process of filmmaking from the scripting stage to post production these days?
Yes…I have the time and the luxury to do it. I have no responsibility now. (smiles) This is all I do and I love to do.
Is it difficult doing horror flicks – in a lot of sequences you have to imagine scenes as a lot of it is special effects…
It’s horrible! So I ask Suparn, ‘Abhi kya aa raha hai mere upar?’. He says, ‘Chaku aa raha hai tere upar!’. I have to go left and then right. Then I ask him ‘What is coming now?’ ‘I’ll decide later’, he says. ‘I’ll kill you if you don’t tell me right now’. ‘Should I draw it for you?’ So it used to be a lot fun on the sets.
But sometimes it’s painful because half the things are happening in special effects and you have to just imagine all that. Half the time I would be rolling on the floor with laughter because I would purposely overdo it and then ask Suparn to show me how to do it. When he would do my acting – I hope all the making-of footage has that – it was the most the hilarious thing to see a bald man jump around, being me. And he doesn’t give up! Even when he knew I was fooling around with him, he would do it and keep all of us in splits.
Is it difficult working with a child actor?
On day one, I realised that it’s not going to be like working with an adult actor. You have to be patient. She is five years old and she’s so raw. She would say ‘Neend aya hai’ and sleep. I would be like ‘So gayi? Shot kaun dega. Kab uthegi?’ ‘Pata nahin!’ Okay…we’ll do something else till then. ‘Bhook lagi hai’ or ‘Suparn bhaiyya, pack up kab hai?’ she would ask. I was like I haven’t asked this question and she’s asking! Suparn said you are not the diva, she’s the diva. So understanding the nature of a child is difficult. I am very patient and Suparn also is, so that was good.
We had a lot of night shoots and Doyel would feel sleepy. We had to be jokers and entertain her. But she was very attached to me. She would play with me or eat with me or hang out with me. So I realised it’s tough to be a mom. But it’s the best feeling one can ever have. I am going to be a mom some day and I know I am going to be a fantastic mother. I think that is what this film taught me – that the best thing that a woman can have is a child.
Most actors are quite particular about who is being cast opposite them…
I am also very particular.
Were you okay with a relatively new actor being cast opposite you in Aatma?
Nawazuddin is better than all the actors I have worked with, put together. He’s got that much talent. I had seen Kahaani when there was no hype around it. And I asked Sujoy Ghosh, “Who is the Khan playing the bad cop?” And Sujoy said he’s Nawazuddin from Anurag Kashyap’s gang. He has done Black Friday. I said whoever this guy is, he is brilliant. I remembered only him in the film. When Suparn said I am casting Nawaz, I said just go for it! He’s the kind of actor who just delivers!
What kind of equation did you have with him?
Sweet equation – I talk, he listens! (laughs) Poor guy… I am a little mad also and so is Suparn. Suparn and I talk so much that we would put Nawaz in a spot. But he’s sweet. He’s a gentleman. With me Nawaz was very instinctive. There was a good energy on the sets. I knew that he would just give me a good scene.
You said that you would be a fantastic mother. What kind of relationship do you share with your mom?
My mom is a great friend. Even when I feel I am not going to tell her something, she is the first person I end up telling. She spies on me more than the media does. And every time you guys put me in trouble by writing something new, she is on high alert. I come from a funny family – out of a comedy film. My dad has a fantastic sense of humour. Otherwise he is a serious, intelligent man, but at home he is quite funny! My mom is a filmi mother – Meri beti sabse sundar, meri beti sabse acchi type. She is that kind of mother. She doesn’t even look like my mother. She looks quite beautiful and young.
What is your next plan when it comes to health and fitness?
I wanted to be the health minister! (laughs) But I lack something – I am not a graduate. I might finish my graduation just to become a minister! But seriously speaking, I want to do a lot in the field of fitness. I have lots of big plans. It will all happen one by one. For now, my third DVD Unleash will come out soon. It is about functional training and the boys will enjoy it tremendously too.