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Updated: March 19, 2010 18:50 IST

Game on

SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.
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BANGALORE GIRL IN BOLLYWOOD Madhuri Bhattacharya Photo: Murali Kumar K.
The Hindu BANGALORE GIRL IN BOLLYWOOD Madhuri Bhattacharya Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Madhuri Bhattacharya debuts in Bollywood with 'Prem Ka Game'. She says that acting is just one phase of her life

Dressed in a white cotton frock with a plunging neckline, she reveals a pretty tattoo on her back. Her hair falls loose on her shoulders while the dark eye make-up and lipstick are a stark contrast to her flawless complexion. She walks in her tall stilettos really carefully. Meet Madhuri Bhattacharya, who stars in the movie “Prem Kaa Game” (PKG) with the Khan brothers of Bollywood — Salmaan, Arbaaz and Sohail.

Smitten by the Khan clan, she says: “Arbaaz is the nicest guy you can ever meet. We became such good friends. It was a lovely experience. Even when it came to dance, we spent a lot of time in rehearsals.”

Now that she has “arrived” in Bollywood, she is also “open to acting in regional films,” says this Bangalore-born girl, who lived with her parents in R.T. Nagar, till fame beckoned her and she shifted base to Mumbai.

“I was a book worm, an enthusiastic student. I was also fat and used to wear thick glasses,” recalls Madhuri, who studied in the Army School and later went on to study psychology at Mount Carmel College and then law at Ramaiah College. Madhuri says that it was by chance that she was asked by her close friend Nisha Millet to be a part of the May Queen contest at the Catholic Club, after which she went on to participate in Miss Bangalore and finally the Camay Mega Model contest held in Mumbai.

She started acting in Kannada films such as “Khushi” and “Bisi Bisi” and modelled for quite some time. Then she did an album with Sonu Nigam “Neene Bari Neene”, acted in TV serials, which include “Kuch Love, Kuch Masti” on Sahara One. And then she was offered the role in “PKG”.

Where did the glasses and the weight go, you ask, and she laughs: “It got transformed into contacts. I was never glamorous. People would often come up and say ‘You have such a pretty face, why don't you lose weight?' I would only laugh. One day my father teased me so much. He said: ‘Where will I find a groom for you if you keep bloating?' I was so fat that men's size 32 jeans would not fit me! That did it. I said to myself that I had to do something and started working on myself. Even today, I eat carefully and work out at least twice or thrice a week.”

Is there any difference between the Kannada and the Hindi film industry? “The former has a lot of talent. But we are lacking, when it come to technical skills. Here the women are expected to be voluptuous and in Mumbai you have to be slim. When I was working here, people would ask me if I am eating well or if I am ill, because I looked too thin! During the shoots the producers would make sure that they serve me more food, thinking I would put on weight. But no regrets. In the past I was fat and happy, now I am thin and happy,” she laughs. And no, she had no adjustment problems here at all. “In fact, I even read and write Kannada.”

Does she plan to have a long innings in Bollywood? “Eventually one wants to marry and settle down. These activities (acting) are just a phase of one's life. I would like to take to teaching later, maybe start a school for children. I would rather do something that I am in charge of.”

What about surviving in an industry dominated by skin show? “First you have to try and get on to the bandwagon and then you can pick and choose your roles. Like the adage, when in Rome, be a Roman.”

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