Mandira Bedi is soon going to start her sari line and she admits that her biggest take away from cricket is saris.

Out of the sari

Mandira Bedi is soon going to start her sari line and she admits that her biggest take away from cricket is saris. “I am not a trained designer, nor do I come from a business family but see I am coming up with a sari line,” she gushes. Calling it the most elegant and sexy attire, Mandira suggests that every woman should get two blouses stitched with every sari. “One for sex appeal and the other for elegance! I often do it.”

But for now she is glad to have found a way to get rid off her sari image with 24, the upcoming series on Colors where she is playing a crucial character. “I am the second in command of the anti-terrorist unit that Anil Kapoor heads in the series. When I watched the original, I found Nikita Myers as the most compelling female character in the series. I never imagined that I will get to play its Indian adaptation. People will get to see me in jeans and T-shirt here which is a rarity on television these days.”

The Shanti girl is returning to a television serial after a decade. “Last time I was in a series I played a vamp in saas-bahu series. At that time I decided that now I will return only when somebody offers me a title role. But I could not say no to 24. I hope like Shanti started a new trend, 24 will also be able to break through the clutter.”

Shot in real time, it is a new experience for Mandira for these days she is only used to hosting reality shows. “We shoot two episodes of reality shows in a day. Here only few minutes of an episode are shot in a 12 hour long shift.” In the meantime she became a mother but we hardly got to notice any changes in her figure. “I feel pregnancy has become an excuse in our society to put on weight. I had a C-section and I asked the doctor after how much time I could return to my exercise schedule. She said 40 days and on the 41st day I was on Carter Road for my morning walk. In two months I participated in Mumbai’s Half Marathon and completed it. The idea should be to lose the baby fat as soon as possible. Once it sticks it becomes very difficult to shed.”

Cruising well

Ileana D’Cruz is happy that Bollywood is eager to embrace different faces and surnames. She will be seen in Rajkumar Santoshi’s comedy Phata Poster Nikhla Hero this week. “When I entered the industry I was advised to change my name to a Hindu name for mass acceptance but I didn’t feel the need. I said these are different times and audience will come to see me as a character.”

Santoshi says he signed her after watching Barfi! but he had seen her in South Indian films as well. “Here is an actor, who gives sleepless nights to her audience in the South and when she does a Hindi film she bewitches you with a performance-oriented role. Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra had author-backed roles in Barfi! but your heart goes out for Ileana’s character. She is always eager to improvise,” says the seasoned director. Ileana says she doesn’t speak Hindi on a daily basis but understands the language well. “In Rajji’s type of comic stories, the lines are said in a singsong way. So it was a bit tricky to get the timing right. But then he is very patient and enacts the whole scene so well that you can’t go wrong.” Talking about her character Kajal, Ileana says, “She is called Complaint Kajal. She is a self-appointed social worker. Whenever something happens in her neighbourhood she is the first one to call the police. She complains so much that officials are fed up of her. When she bumps into Shahid, she feels he is an actual cop but he turns out to be an aspiring actor. She is irritable for him but then he also nurses feelings for her. Rajji makes his characters very endearing. You can’t help but like them.”

At some point in her life, Ileana wants to give her singing talent a chance. “I am not a trained singer but I am fond of western classical singing. I am not going to use my clout as an actor to cut an album. I will do it only when I feel I am up to the task.” Most actor-turned-singers use sound and visuals to hide their limitations but Ileana wants to be different. “My kind of music is very soulful. Something like Adele.” With two more Hindi films – one with Saif Ali Khan – in her kitty, Ileana is cruising up North.

The right choice

Karan Johar was in Delhi recently to promote The Lunchbox, the much feted Ritesh Batra film which he is presenting. Asked that he is known to back chocolaty heroes, Karan remarked that people forget that dark chocolate is also a variety of chocolate and Irrfan Khan belongs to that zone. “I know many women, who will love to carry lunchbox to Irrfan!” On a serious note, he said The Lunchbox is essentially a love story and not far from his zone. “There is a lot of generalisation about my career and I am trying to change that by contributing to Bombay Talkies and backing The Lunchbox.” He said in his opinion it is the right film to be sent as the Indian entry to the Oscars. “It is an original Indian story which is appealing to a global audience.

Battle of wits

From jingoistic to realistic, we have seen all kind of films on war but now newcomer Faraz Haider is coming up with a war comedy. Called War Chhod Na Yaar, it has Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan and Jaaved Jafferi in lead roles. Faraz says Indo-Pakistan relations is a touchy subject and he was advised not to touch it but he was sure his light-hearted story won’t hurt anybody’s sentiments. “We have shown a really serious problem which needs a solution but in a lighter way. It is a new genre. I believe we are missing out on real issues by wasting time on border problems. Unlike many films in the past, I am not pointing fingers towards anybody. I believe Pakistani audience will identify with Jaaved’s character of a Pakistani army officer,” says Faraz, who assisted Dibakar Banerjee in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.