By: Joginder Tuteja, IndiaFM
Monday, October 16, 2006
Filmy. Very filmy. That's what you wish to keep the middle name of Geeta Basra within 10 minutes of speaking to her. A girl so obsessed by Bollywood and things unfolding in front of the camera, it's hard to imagine that she wouldn't have found her bearings in the glamour word as soon as she reached her early 20s. A girl who gave her heart away in Dil Diya Hai and is coming to meet you soon in Train, she comes across as someone who would certainly make a place for herself in the industry - sooner or later! Over to Geeta 'filmy' Basra!
Congratulations for beginning work on your new project [Train] just after the release of your first film [Dil Diya Hai].
Yup, thanks. But I was always looking forward to my films coming in this fashion. When Dil Diya Hai was nearing its release, I wanted to sign on another film soon. I didn't want to be sitting idle after having a fantastic time in front of the camera. This is how 'Train' happened. It would be an understatement to say that I am over the moon. I am glad that I was accepted after my first film since I have received good feelers after Dil Diya Hai. Raksha Mistry [co-director of Train] liked my work in the film and roped me in for the film.
And what really excited you about Train?
My character, no doubt about that. To be honest, the story revolves around me. For a new actress to get into a female oriented subject - now what else one may wish for? I won't deny that Train has a bold subject and hence I was a little reluctant to pick it up as my second film. I did have doubts though whether it be a good career move.
So how did you overcome them?
By being fully convinced by the directors that Train would work for me as a performer. See, as an actor our job is to play different characters and when such a 'different' character does come your way, one shouldn't shy away. In DDH, I was playing this cute, young, bubbly girl whereas in Train, I am a mature business woman who is completely aware about her personality and knows how to carry herself well. There is such a distinct feel to her entire characterization.
You seem to be thoroughly enjoying your moments while shooting.
Oh absolutely! It is so exciting to actually live your passion that you have developed over the years. It's unbelievable. And now since I am knocking the Bollywood doors hard, I want to be in different genres of films. It you ask me, I would love to be a part of 'Pakeezah'. Why? Because I believe I have versatile looks and can carry off an Indian as well as a Western look comfortably! I get so inspired by Madhur Dixit because everything about it is simply great. Be it looks, 'adas', 'nakhras' - just about everything!
If you have to justify what an actress is, just quote Madhuri Dixit. No wonder I am a huge fan of hers. She is my idol. Do you know I was so disappointed when Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon was announced and released? I screamed that yeh to mera sapna tha, mujhe isme hona chahiye tha!
So which are her films that have inspired you most?
Just about every film. But if I have to pick a few, they have to be Dil To Paagal Hai [I love the whole film], Koyla and Anjaam [I still don't know why it didn't work].
And how about her dancing?
I was simply in awe of her when I saw her in Beta, Raja and Devdas. Guess what, before I could start walking I could play a video; and I am not kidding here. I have loved movies so much in my growing years that they have just got into me in a big way. The first dance that I ever did on stage was when I was 2 years old. Though in this case, I chose a Sridevi song from Nagina!
Now coming to a question that must have been often asked to you in last few months. Aren't you apprehensive about so-called bold scenes in your films?
[Laughs] Yes, this one is certainly not a new one for me though I feel very strange that why such a big issue is being made about this. First and foremost I would say that no, I am not apprehensive about it, especially when it comes to movies where the story and the screenplay are strong enough to justify the scene's need in the film. Secondly one needs to look at the kind of unit you are working with. With a director like Raksha, it becomes so easy to work even on intimate scenes since she is so cool to work with. Yes, even I was reluctant to begin with but then as long as the scene doesn't look cheap or vulgar, it is fine.
See, I believe a lot of hype is being made about small issues. One has to look at everything from a story point of view. Also it has to be checked how the intimate moments have been shot and how have they been presented on the screen. Aur ek baat ye bhi hai ki aisa har picture mein hota hai! Bade banners mein bhi all this happens but then no one questions there! So why should everyone else keep justifying their stand?
You and Emraan have worked together in Dil Diya Hai which didn't work. Also Emran and Raksha/Hasnain have earlier worked in The Killer that barely survived. Doesn't the scare you with the same team coming together in Train?
But Raksha/Hasnain are no novices in the industry! They have worked with elite film makers like Rakesh Roshan, Dhamresh Darshan and Mukesh Bhatt earlier and hence there is no apprehension about working with them as long as talent is concerned. I am quite comfortable in fact. Now think of it, everyone doesn't really start off a career with a superhit. If one sees a trend of number of successful film makers from the past and the present, they had a couple of flops or so in the beginning only to come up with a superhit later on. Just because 'The Killer' didn't work as per expectations doesn't let down the team behind the film.
But isn't it like playing a gamble?
Why just this film? I would say every film is a gamble! Biggest of directors have given a flop but at the end it all depends on the kind of appreciation one has got from the audience. The Killer was appreciated by quite a few people and the good part is that the directors are learning from the experience. Hence there are absolutely no qualms at all.
One gamble that didn't work was Dil Diya Hai.
[Sounds really sad] Ask me. I can't really put my finger on one point and arrive at what really went wrong. I just don't know. The music was good and appreciated well. Probably we just came at the wrong time when Lage Raho Munnabhai was at its peak. Also, the film was released during shraddh when majority of flicks do not work.
But there must be something more about the film itself that didn't work in its favor?
Hmmm....right. When you are given a narration the film sounds different but when the final result comes in it looks quite different. I guess the same happened in case of DDH too. I was so excited about the film, naturally so, because when one narrated a subject like this to you, you are bound to lap it up. Unfortunately the film didn't turn out the way it was expected and hence didn't click. But hey it's ok, after all how many films actually turn out to be hits [she becomes cheerful again at this point].
It must have hurt to see the film rejected on day one. Isn't it?
Well, let me honest, yes indeed it was the case, at least on the first day. But then life is not gone, right? I was soon starting work on my next film, my work was being appreciated and though 1-2 critics did slaughter me, the rest were pretty kind. One has to learn and move on, after all I can't be Madhuri Dixit after one film, right?
So what did you learn from DDH experience?
That one should never compromise with the makeup artist. You know, it was a huge issue while shooting for DDH. There was inconsistency and one couldn't do much about it since we were miles away in London. Another learning is to work on the character more. Also learning the language. I am not a Hindi speaker, abhi seek rahin hoon. Last but not the least, be modest and continue to learn from yourself and others.
After living your passion, do you still have the fire burning for working in films?
Absolutely. My impression is that I want to be a part of this industry as long as I can imagine. I know that I can pack my bags and fly off to UK anytime but that's not something I intend to do. I have met so many amazing people in the industry in spite of all the horror stories I had heard about Bollywood functioning back home. Take my words - I am not going anywhere!