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In an industry dominated by Bong Babes and Punjabi Kudis, she is one of the few Catholic girls out to make a mark. We are talking about the cute and bubbly Genelia D'Souza who debuted opposite Riteish Deshmukh in Tujhe Meri Kasam and was later seen with him in the comic-caper Masti. Subsequently, she went down South and acted in a dozen odd Telugu and Tamil films, most of which were blockbusters. She is now back with a bang in Bollywood and would first be seen alongside Akshaye Khanna in the family entertainer Mere Baap Pehle Aap. Post that she would be seen working with two of the most talked about newcomers- Imraan Khan in Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na and Harman Baweja in It's my life. In this exclusive interview with us, Genelia talks about her experience down South, her comeback plans and life in general
After a long gap you are all over the place with two back to back releases; First Mere Baap Pehle Aap and then Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na. How does it feel?
Oh it feels fabulous to be back with a bang. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of welcome I get with these two releases.
You debuted with Riteish in Tujhe Meri Kasam and even did the comic-caper Masti. Where did you suddenly disappear after that?
(Laughs) Well I didn't disappear. I was busy with films down South. In fact in my first year itself, I started shooting for 3 of my films simultaneously. All 3 of them were in 3 different languages- Boys (Tamil), Satyam (Telugu) and of course Tujhe Meri Kasam (Hindi). So you can say I debuted in 2003 in three different languages (smiles). Subsequently, my next couple of years were already booked with films in Telugu and Tamil.
After nearly a dozen odd Tamil and Telugu films…have you picked the language?
Well, I definitely understand it and I can speak to save my soul (smiles) but am not perfect grammatically as I live here in Mumbai.
In the past a lot of Bollywood stars like Nagma, Jyothika and Simran didn't really come back to Bollywood after becoming big stars down south. You are really popular down south, so what made you come back to Bollywood?
I guess it was the kind of offers that I got and the kind of faith that Priyan sir and Aamir had in me that brought me back. However, for me it's never been that I didn't want to come back or that I wanted to do only films in the South. I am open to any good offers and prefer to just go with the flow and take things as they come.
A lot of people say that you look refreshingly different...so what's the secret behind this new look?
Is it? I don't know (laughs)...I guess I have just grown up (smiles)
In an industry dominated by Bong babes and Punjabi kudis you are one of the few Catholic girls out to make a mark; how does it feel?
It feels challenging. I am looking forward to it. Right now, I am too new to be looking at destiny as totally fulfilling. I am just waiting to see what my releases have in store for me.
Are there any differences in the style of working here in Bollywood and down south?
Honestly, I really don't think so mainly because the people I have worked with here are equally professional as the people down South.
Your next release is the Priyadarshan comedy Mere Baap Pehle Aap. The title itself makes you smile. What's the film all about?
Yeah precisely that's the basic idea why we chose the title because it's a family comedy entertainer. It's about a guy searching for a bride for his father and the entire hilarious journey.
What about your character in the film?
Well, I play a girl who helps Akshaye in searching for a bride for his father. She is a very lovable character.
So are you the one who plays the bride in the end?
Hmmm...for that you will have to come and watch the film.
You are working with seasoned actors like Akshaye Khanna, Paresh Rawal and Om Puri in Mere Baap Pehle Aap? How has been the experience?
Fabulous. I feel for someone like me who is not from a filmy family, one of the only ways you can learn is by being a keen observer of such experienced stars. Working on Mere Baap Pehle Aap gave me that chance. It was indeed a really good learning experience for me watching actors like Akshaye, Pareshji and Om Puri ji perform.
A lot of people feel Akshaye is quite an introvert. So did he open up to you?
I've had a terrific working relationship with Akshaye Khanna. I feel he is a lot quieter than some of the other actors but he is definitely not uncomfortable to be with.
How was it working with Priyadarshan?
Fantastic. Priyan Sir and I have somehow almost missed working with each other. He was to do my first ad but that didn't work out. So we have always been wishing that we get a chance to work with each other and I am glad that he gave me this opportunity to act in his film. It"s a role which gives me a lot of scope to perform, so I am happy.
Post that you have Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na which is touted as the grand launch of Aamir Khan's nephew Imraan. How does it feel?
I am really looking forward to that film.
You are also doing the Hindi remake of one of your Telugu blockbusters Bommarillu in which you are paired opposite Harman Baweja. What's the film all about?
It's a sweet romantic film directed by Anees Bazmee. It's quite a coincidence as I starred in the original Telugu version Bommarillu. The film was a big success and even fetched me a Filmfare award for Best Actress. The same film was also remade in Tamil called Santosh Subramaniam. It just released last week down South and has got a terrific response. I am glad they didn't need to find a replacement for my character. I am probably one of the few actresses who have starred in the remake of the same film in 3 different languages so it kind of gives me a high.
Lastly, what are your expectations from your two forthcoming releases?
I just hope to be noticed and be appreciated for the work that I have done.