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IT’S MY LIFE

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Genelia D’Souza has a spate of movies lined up for release this year. Harshikaa Udasi catches up with the sprightly young actor

"I have always maintained that I need not be present from the first frame to the last, but even if I do five scenes, they should make a difference"

For an actor who has managed to survive in Bollywood with just three films to account for her six years, 2009 is definitely hectic. Four back-to-back releases is a sure shot way to ensure that audiences don’t get half a chance to forget you. Not that anyone will forget either Meow or Aditi from Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Naa in a hurry.

“Many people still call me Aditi or Meow, and it feels great,” laughs 21-year-old Genelia D’Souza. This from the girl who refused to change her rather non-filmi name to something starry. “I have been asked to change it several times; on my debut, in the South and even before Jaane Tu…. But, Genelia is special since it is an amalgamation of my parents’ names — Jeanette and Neil,” she says. Life’s looking up for Genelia, who has been second time lucky in Bollywood, after a dismal start in 2003 with Tujhe Meri Kasam and Masti, both with Riteish Deshmukh. She will be seen first with Fardeen Khan in Life Partner, an Abbas-Mustan film. Then comes Anees Bazmi’s It’s My Life with Hurman Baweja, a remake of the Telugu Bommarillu that was remade in Tamil as Santosh Subramaniam — she played the lead in both. Towards the end of the year are two exciting releases — David Dhawan’s Hook Ya Crook with John Abraham and Ken Ghosh’s debut film with Shahid Kapur, tentatively titled Yahoo. “In Life Partner, I play Sanjana, a rich girl who doesn’t need to work for a living. She is brought up in the lap of luxury in South Africa, and keeps changing professions just for the heck of it. One day she is a singer, the next, a painter. But she is very attached to her father and her boyfriend. She’s the polar opposite of me, in terms of being a party person with no inclination to earn!” adds Genelia.

It’s My Life must’ve been a breeze considering she has already played the same role in Telugu and Tamil, and won awards for the Telugu one as well. “Not really. The character has been defined differently in the Hindi film; so there are differences. The story is essentially about a father-son relationship, where I act as a catalyst,” she says.

Compared to Jaane Tu… don’t these roles appear smaller to her? Genelia, who is a bigger star in the Telugu film industry than in Hindi for now, says: “I have always maintained that I need not be present from the first frame to the last, but even if I do five scenes, they should make a difference. And, the Hindi film industry is thankfully not treating me as a newcomer. All the people I have worked with, from John to Hurman to Shahid, have made me feel very comfortable.”

Not many know that Genelia is a State-level athlete and a National-level football player. “I was way too much into sports and studies. I even completed my bachelors in management while doing my first film, and thought an MNC job would suit me fine!” she says.

Films were a by-product of modelling that happened when she was spotted as a bridesmaid at a wedding. “I even auditioned for the Parker pens advertisement hesitantly because I was appearing for a management exam the next day, and wanted to study instead of shoot,” she smiles, thinking of the opportunity she would have lost out on.

Now, she is getting infamous as the replacement specialist in the brand world, having replaced Rani Mukherjee as the face of Fanta and Dabur Vatika, and Preity Zinta in Perk. “While it is true I have replaced them, there is no comparison. I am just taking baby steps while they have crossed milestones.” Is there no love lost between the senior actors and her? “I have met both Rani and Preity, and both are very sweet. Preity even told me she loved Jaane Tu…”

Has the success of Jaane Tu… helped her get over the ‘Riteish Deshmukh’s girlfriend’ tag? “I don’t know how those talks began. Possibly, it was because we shot for two movies over quite a long period.” So, is there nothing?

“We are good friends and I will not refuse to have coffee with him just because someone thinks something’s brewing between us,” she adds, defiantly.

Shooting in Hyderabad for her Telugu film Katha, Genelia says, “Sports has taught me that there is only one winner. It may be okay to tell yourself that you came in second, but you’ve got to admit you’ve lost.”

But, this girl isn’t here to take that!


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