Lisa, radiant as ever
SHE SPEAKS in American English. Bears to the core, the etiquettes that the Westerners are identified with: less hand movement, shrugging shoulders to emphasise her point, a quick wink to make up for her pause and most important, never forgetting to say `sorry' or `excuse me' if her mobile phone rings during her conversation. This is Lisa Ray. The one you saw in Vikram Bhatt's "Kasoor" as a determined lawyer and in advertisements of Lakme, Sprite, Garden saris and most recently Rado watches, for which she is still the brand ambassador.
English? Well, she was born to Bengali father and Polish mother. Dressed in pastel shade of sky blue T-shirt - again an English choice, and black jeans, with absolutely no make up - she exudes class and elegance that might have made Times Group enumerate her `among ten most beautiful women on earth' a few years ago. She extends a pearly grin if you make her recall the title. "Well, I really don't know... but thanks... ," her eyes beam and spotless face turns pink as she resumes her coy smile.
Lisa is seen at New Delhi's Metropolitan Nikko Hotel for the promotion of her latest film, "Bollywood Hollywood".
Nothing excites her more than the film at the moment. "I am thrilled about this film because its response in Canada at the recent Toronto Film Festival was amazing. It has also been ranked among top five films at the Genie Award - Canada's Oscar."
So it's a role unconventional in Bollywood. Didn't she learn from the mediocre success of "Kasoor"? "Well, I never wanted to be a traditional Bollywood heroine. So I preferred experimenting. Concept of the film `Kasoor' was very intriguing. I had substance to work on. I know the film was not a chartbuster. But I have absolutely no complaints."
Lisa does not go gaga over Bollywood and makes no secret of it. "You know, I lived most of my life in Canada. I have also not grown up watching Bollywood films, so sensitivity for it never came. Now also, I am based in London. Though I feel very much Indian as I am coming here for 10 years. But I would never like to be with Bollywood full-time. I would definitely accept film offers that allow me retain my individuality as a Canadian too."
She minces no words telling what makes her keep a distance from a typical Mumbai film. "I like to work in a more organised way, with bound scripts and time schedules. The other day I was watching a song from a Hindi film. Gosh! I was amazed to see the expenses that Bollywood incurs on a single song! Lots of lights, one bomb shell dropping from one side, huge canvas. What is the need of spending so much on the gloss? Why can't this money be channelised into good content?"
An off and on Bollywood actress she might be, Lisa actually wanted to be "a journalist or a lawyer". Lawyer because she witnessed "the grandeur of my grandfather who was a famous judge in West Bengal."
This art collector by passion is now "committed to films as a full-time career." In her kitty are few "mainstream offers from U.K, USA and Canada. "The Arrangement" is one soon to hit the screen. "It is a UK, Canada and USA production," she informs.
For now, it is `no' to "Hindi films until I see the response of `Bollywood Hollywood' here."
RANA A. SIDDIQUI
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