This has got to be the most dangerous stunt ever performed by a female actor in any part of the world. Bengali beauty Nandana Sen doing a cross between Lara Croft and Charlie's Angels in Cape Town revved - up a mo-bike and speeded from the rooftop of a 30-storey building right onto the top of an adjacent skyscraper.
"And to think I suffer from vertigo," she laughs and shudders at the memory. "They said I don't have to do it. They were willing to use a body double. But I'm glad I took the leap. It helped me to overcome my vertigo. I knew how to ride a bicycle. So learning to ride a mo-bike was not that hard. But it wasn't an easy thing to speed across from one 30-storey building to another. Our action director Alan Amin was fantastic. I flew across one building to another. It was liberating."
Nandana feels exhilarated by the whole transformation into an action queen. "It's a very Matrix like look and role. I enjoyed the stunts immensely. And this role was a complete antithesis to what I play in Ketan Mehta's Rang Rasiya. It was wonderful to take up such a challenge."
Nandana had to learn martial arts, gun-firing and mo-bike riding to play Oberoi's action queen. "I play an all-action chick who is an undercover cop. I learn kick-boxing, Tai-Kwando and I learnt to shoot guns for real. The 5 kgs I had gained for Rang Rasiya was quickly lost."
This is for a Tips film being directed by debutant Kukkie Gulati opposite Vivek Oberoi. How did Nandana with her arty tag bag such a hardcore masala film? "I'm not very good at lobbying for roles. I just got a call from Tips. I think the director Kukkie had seen and liked my work."
Ironically, in spite of such unheard-of derring-do, Nandana didn't suffer any major injuries. "But in Rang Rasiya where I've no stunts, I got a broken rib while dancing. And I caught fire also. I'm no stranger to mishaps. I'm quite clumsy in real life so I'm used to calamities. And my threshold for pain is quite high. Yes, the heavy mo-bike did fall on me and my shoulder got hurt. But I continued shooting."
After the action stint in Cape Town, Nandana feels less vulnerable as a woman. "I'm very much a girlie girl. But all this physical action really changed my body language and psychological approach to crowded places. Even a pointing a gun at an adversary is such an aggressive job. The combat training really helped me come out of my shell. Now I feel less vulnerable in crowds."
Now Nandana returns to Cape Town again to shoot for Vicky Chopra's Seasons Greetings. "I play this really fun character. I haven't done comedy before. It's quite a far cry from my role in the film with Vivek. There I was speeding across skyscrapers. Here hopefully audiences will be falling off their chairs watching my comic act."