Bipasha Basu has proved that lookers can be thinkers too, says Rana Siddiqui

I’m a fitness freak and love an adventurous life Bipasha Basu is an amazing combination of old and new ideals. She may attend a media interview dressed in revealing clothes, but as the conversation with her progresses, one discovers she is extremely grounded and belongs to the old school in more ways than one. Like senior actors in the film industry, she is polite and doesn’t make negative remarks about her co-stars.

Race, Bipasha’s forthcoming film directed by Abbas-Mustan, releases today. As always, she says she is not worried about box-office records or critics’ opinions, but in the same breath adds she has given her best to be in their good books!

The star-studded cast of the film, comprising Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor, Akshaye Khanna, Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy, doesn’t bother her either. “A film with a multi-star cast doesn’t mean vying for screen space. It doesn’t bring a sense of negativity. In fact, it encourages good chemistry among co-stars,” says Bipasha. She plays a model in the film who “uses her admirers for her own ends”.

She calls it a spicy film, in which women characters are very strong and most characters seem predictable but end up behaving unpredictably.

Though she is glad that Abbas-Mustan write powerful roles for heroines, she feels disheartened at the continuing “hero worship” among movie-goers. “The heroes still call the shots in our film industry, and the masses continue to hero worship. They don’t connect with powerful women in films. That’s why we have few strong roles for heroines,” she states, adding that Bengali films create powerful roles for women. She recently acted in Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali film “Shaub Characters Kalponik” (All Characters Are Imaginary).

New developments for heroines in Bollywood give her hope. “Now there are no rules like a female actor should retire after marriage. Nor are there stereotypical roles or a dress code for them. But all this certainly doesn’t translate into women-centric films.” But such changes, she adds, have made actors more responsible.

Professional approach

“Now actors have become professional. They don’t come late to the sets, take their stardom for granted or throw tantrums with the media. For them, working in films is a job which they can lose if they don’t behave professionally.”

Bipasha is doing a lot of product endorsements, from shampoos to sports shoes, these days. She doesn’t find it clichéd for a woman to endorse a kitchen gadget either. “What’s wrong if a woman stands with a pressure cooker in her hand? It’s a lifestyle product. But I never endorse a product that doesn’t go with my image and personality. I agreed to do the Reebok shoes ad because it signifies fitness, adventure and sports. And I am a fitness freak and love an adventurous life. If my synergy is not in tandem with the product, I refuse to do it. For instance, if I have done a bidi number in Omkara, it doesn’t necessitate my endorsing a tobacco product. I get a lot of pan masala ads but because I am health-conscious, I don’t do them,” she explains.

Pankh is her next “art house” film, as she puts it. A film by White Feather Productions, it isabout a boy (newcomer Maradonna) who is in a dilemma about his gender as he grows into a man. “In his childhood, he plays girls’ roles in the theatre but when he grows up he doesn’t get those roles. He falls into a complex situation about his gender. I play his alter ego who tries to take him out of that situation. Lillette Dubey plays the boy’s mother,” she concludes.