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Updated: August 28, 2009 18:38 IST

Making a point

RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN
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Back in business: Chitrangada Singh in New Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty
Back in business: Chitrangada Singh in New Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Chitrangada Singh reveals how she turned actor by fluke. Golfer Jyoti Randhwa’s wife also talks about her future projects.

Wearing a rehearsed smile and a lot of oomph, Chitrangada Singh welcomes you at the Business Centre of The Lalit, New Delhi. Yes, she is here to talk business. The business of endorsements! The business table is lined with “Aliva”, Fritolays’ new snack in four flavours — plain, salted, mint and masala. And like an obedient endorser she would first like to make you believe the product is healthy and nutritious.

“I have been a model, been among all kinds of products. So, I know the product I am endorsing has to match my personality and belief. I decided to endorse Aliva because I am a nutritionist by qualification and I know it is a healthy snack. It is made of flour, wheat, dal and is fat-free as it is baked. And it is delicious too.”

It is easy to see she wouldn’t mind talking of her films and modelling career once she sees you are convinced by her endorsement anthem.

Isn’t it almost like a U-turn for her? She began with modelling and has come back to it. “It is not exactly like that,” she disagrees, but feebly admits, “Films give you a high and a temporary visibility, but modelling helps sustain it. And mind you, endorsing a product as an ambassador and modelling for it are two completely things.” She smiles, emphasising one shouldn’t take her for granted.

Quite a stunner, Chitrangada set many hearts aflutter with her bold portrayal of a jilted lover in Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi a few years ago. Her unusual name, marriage to famous golfer Jyoti Randhawa and having her looks compared to Smita Patil only added to her popularity. Not to forget her acting skills.

Her debut film fetched her a nomination for Zee’s Most Promising Newcomer award. “I didn’t know I could do it,” she confides, going down memory lane.

“I never did theatre ever,” says Chitrangada. She did, however, learn Kathak for a while. “Three years,” she clarifies, adding, “Dance teaches you how to emote. So maybe that came in handy.”

The rejection caused it

And films happened “quite by fluke,” she says. “My father was in the Army. I studied at Sophia College, Meerut. I came to Delhi’s Lady Irwin College to do my graduation in food and nutrition.” After she finished her studies, she applied to British Airways for a job. “I wanted to be an air hostess. But British Airways rejected me,” she says reading your eyes. The rejection made this “rebel at heart” pursue a line that would bring her popularity.

“Yet films were not in my mind,” she notes. She was invited to perform at a state level dance programme called Expressions. Sudhir Mishra was in the audience. “He saw me and offered Hazaaron... I accepted it just to experience the medium. I wasn’t serious about it. When I told my parents, they were surprised. My mom asked, ‘Do you think you can act?’ During the shooting period they were convinced I was wasting my time.”

After she made it big and created quite a stir in Bollywood, Chitraganda herself realised, “This is what I wanted to do.”

But at the peak of her career she vanished for two years. And then she came back with small-time films like Sorry Bhai which didn’t do well. “I was spending those days with my husband. It is very important to be married to an ambitious man. I wouldn’t have come back if he had thought I would look better sitting at home rearing babies,” she says, flashing her pearly grin.

Chitrangada’s kitty of films is filling slowly again. “I have three films in hand — all with different roles.” In Sudhir Mishra’s Dhruv, her role has a negative shade. “It is about an ambitious man who progresses to become a chief minister. How various women who come in his life change his thoughts, is what the film is about. I play a wheeler-dealer who is sensuous, seductive and has the capacity to make or break one’s career. The film has many twists and turns,” she says. “For protocol reasons,” she doesn’t want to talk about the other two films, except that “one of them will go on the floor this December.”

For now, Chitrangada knows her place in filmdom and doesn’t forget to praise the big stars.

“I feel so privileged to endorse a product that earlier Kareena and Saif endorsed,” she says rather devotedly. “Still looking for better roles,” she says she has her feet firmly on the ground. She has friends in the film industry and moves freely. “For me there is nothing called lonely at the top for I am not at the top. I am not Shah Rukh Khan. So I still have not tasted that kind of loneliness,” she signs off, smiling.

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