She is far more animated and witty in conversation than she appears on screen. She may look like the Halle Berry coming out of the water in a Bond film but she doesn't sound like one. She sounds a lot sweeter, and that makes you fall for her. Is it her accent? Who knows? But one thing's good about this girl. She does know that being a beautiful celebrity isn't a bed of roses. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent chats with Jiah Khan on her first comic film Housefull, what's she been up to these days in London and much more in this quick chirpy chat.
Sajid Khan calls you sweet and hot. So what's the general perception here? Hot or sweet?
(Laughs) You know, I can't really compliment myself on this one. That's really nice of Sajid Khan to have said this about me. But my perception is the 'sweet' one rather than the 'hot' one.
Ever since Nishabd released, the heads have turned critically. Then followed Ghajini and the commercial heads turned too. You've got both - critical and commercial acclaim. What's Housefull going to bring?
Oh my god! Housefull will prove that I can do comedy as well. I try and do very different roles from all my previous films. This again is very different. I've never attempted comedy before and I'm sure that audiences are going to like this one too.
Your director is also raving about the fact that he has made you all do some maddening stuff. How was it going mad with Sajid?
(Laughs) I think you should be asking this to Sajid. I don't know (laughs). I don't have that much experience working with directors who turn you mad (laughs). My previous two directors, Ram Gopal Varma and Muragadoss had failed to make me mad (laughs). Sajid really guides you into the scene if you're an actor. He is so light hearted on the sets that it helps us with the comic roles. As far as Sajid doing something mad and different, well, he made me wear a bikini.
British comedies are so famous. Then there are stand up comedians. As a person, what sort of comedy films or tele series or stand up comedians has inspired you in your growing up years?
To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of comedy. I am a sucker for psychological thrillers. If anything I'd associate myself to is sarcastic humour, which I think is very British and comes from my upbringing. Nothing specific. I haven't been into comedy ever. Housefull is my first ever experience and I don't even watch comedy films and tele series. I don't watch too much television. If there is any comedy I was a witness to, it was a Sajid Khan film Heyy Babyy. I loved the film.
After having worked with the best in business, Mr Amitabh Bachchan, how did Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal and Riteish Deshmukh come across?
For me, the actors you've mentioned are huge stars in India. They have done so much in their life. Yes, there is a sense of nervousness in me when I work with established and famous names. All three were light hearted. They cracked jokes and played pranks. With Mr. Bachchan, you get to see a much superior personality with immense respect. He is a little more serious too. The Housefull gang was fun and frolic. We became family and were travelling together out of India most of the time.
Tell us something about Lara Dutta
I loved Lara Dutta in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. I think she was hilarious in the film. She looks gorgeous. We didn't really sit together and exchanged acting tips. It didn't happen. But yes, we did a lot of shopping, diet and exercise. And with Sajid Khan around, you don't have time to sit down (laughs).
And Deepika Padukone?
Deepika is a much focused actress. She is very young and it's good to see the youngsters, including me, who are focused about their profession. She is achieving so much at an early age that is mystical.
Let's talk about marriages.
Hey, don't worry. I know marriages will make you dizzy. But what sort of guy would be interested in you?
A guy interested in me? That's a tough question (laughs). My god! That's the hardest question. The right kind for Jiah would be easy to answer. I am very similar to my character in Housefull. I want a man to come on a white horse and rescue me away. I am shy and reserved and a diehard romantic. I'd expect a lot from my man (laughs).
So what if Arjun, Akshay and Riteish came on a white horse. Who would you pick?
(Laughs) This is insane. Well, it would not be me picking the guys. It has to be the one who grabs me first. How can I pick up a guy? Don't guys actually pick up on girls? By the way, Arjun Rampal is really good looking, isn't he? (Laughs).
In three years career, is Jiah Khan going to stay here for good? Or are you planning to go the Freida Pinto way?
I don't really think about things like these. When we make plans, it sometimes doesn't work. Nothing is planned and nothing is in our hands. But at the same time I was in New York when I got a film like Nishabd. I want to wake up in the morning and start work as soon as possible. That's what I want to do and keep on doing. More films. In terms of my films, I can't really say what films I'm going to sign and where they'll land me to.
You speak a heavy British accent and look unconventional too. So are you going to be a lucky mascot for Akshay Kumar just like your compatriot Katrina Kaif?
(Laughs) I can never say anything like that. A lot of people want to see more of me, I agree. Let's see how Housefull does. Currently, I'm working on a film in London. It's a British-American film and hopefully it'll be my next film after Housefull. In terms of getting lucky, again, it's not planned. But yes, I'd love to work with Akshay Kumar again.
So what has Jiah got on to the table in Housefull?
Mostly people vision me as a sensuous, out there, wild and a carefree girl. But Sajid thought otherwise. He went the other way. I was so closer to the role I was portraying that even Sajid was unaware of. So I got a lot of the gestures and dialogues on to the table because that's how I am. I liked that. People who are close to me will relate to my character but those who aren't will think it's a different role which Jiah Khan is portraying.
Anybody in particular you'd like to work with in Bollywood as far as directors are concerned?
Yes. I'd like to work with Mani Ratnam. I love his movies and I've been seeing all his films from childhood. I've grown up watching Mani Ratnam's films.
There is a lot more to Jiah Khan than just a babe in the bikini from Housefull. She is fullness personified. A great dusky figure, a heavy British accent, a super sex appeal and of course, oodles of talent. Of course, she is undeniably beautiful - like a cross between a Vargas girl and a Disney cartoon with big, brown eyes and a wide, easy smile - and I can't help but wonder whether male television executives have simply been too hypnotised by her dazzling physical attributes in her previous films to bother listening to anything she has to say.