Fresh from the success of her Telugu film Athidhi , Amrita Rao is back to Bollywood with her next film My Name is Anthony Gonsalves . She has some more exciting projects lined up. The charming actress speaks about upcoming films and also clears controversies surrounding her.
How does it feel after delivering a superhit Telugu cinema down south?
Athidhi was my first dabble with Tollywood. I was offered many roles in the south and everyone used to tell me why I don’t try my hands on it. Athidhi came after Vivah . I got the offer from Padmalaya which is a big name in the south. Also Mahesh Babu, who is my co-star in the film, is a superstar there. A lot of things worked for me. The film is a love story and I had a lot of fun shooting for it. On the very day the film released it made a business of Rs 6 crores. Thankfully I was there in Hyderabad shooting for Shyam Benegal’s film. I felt so proud at that moment.
The media involved you in the Shahid –Kareena spilt. Did it strain your relationship with Shahid?
Not at all! The media has been very supportive and positive towards me. But there are certain elements or pages which are designed for gossip which cause trouble. But I guess it’s their job. You end up reading stuff about yourself which is sometimes news to you.
So are you open to doing more films with Shahid?
Absolutely, I will do more films with Shahid
Your next film My Name is Anthony Gonsalves sees you playing the role of an assistant director. Would we ever see you actually directing a film?
That would be quite a jump for me.
Why do you think the film was titled My Name is Anthony Gonsalves ?
Nowadays to find an original name is a creative effort. I think the title is fantastic and fits in with the story line. It is a title which one instantly likes. And I guess also because the protagonist in the film called Anthony is a struggling actor and he wants people to look at him.
What is your character in the film like?
You cannot be an actor without giving an audition. And I, being the assistant director in the film, am the one who explains the audition to aspiring actors. I play a Catholic girl called Rhea in the film.
Could you relate to your character?
I was very familiar with this role from day one. It took me back to my early days when I had to interact with a lot of assistant directors. Farah Khan had taken my audition for the film Main Hoon Na . For some reason she walked in late for the audition and her assistant director explained everything to me so well that I did the audition in one take.
How was it working with others?
We had a great actor like Mithun on the sets. I loved him in Guru . I think we need actors with experience like him. I have worked with Lillete Dubey before, she reminds me of Farah Khan. Anupam Kher and Pawan Malhotra are great actors. Nikhil is extremely confident. Confidence is his second name. I thought I would have to make him comfortable as it’s his first film, but I didn’t have to. Anupamji and I have worked together in Vivah . We share a great bond. He is the favourite amongst unit members.
You missed working with Shah Rukh in OSO .
Yes indeed. When Farah had asked me to do a cameo in Om Shanti Om I was shooting in Austria for my Telugu film. Then Farah asked me to do a cameo in the Filmfare Awards scene in the film for the ‘Main Bhi Hoon Naa’ segment but unfortunately then too I was shooting in Thailand. Farah did not have much time and had to wrap up soon.
But with My Name is Anthony Gonsalves , I got to work with him again. Though this time as a producer (Red Chillies).
Much has been spoken about your item number in MNIAG.
There is a misunderstanding here. There is an item number in the film but that’s done by Hrishita Bhatt. I just have a dance number. The song is the only romantic song in the entire film. It has been shot in Goa and is choreographed by Bosco and Ceaser. They have given the song a new look and have given us scope to experiment. It’s a groovy number where you can throw loads of attitude to the camera.
You mean to say all the reports on you attempting to change the girl-next-door image from Vivah were false
I haven’t tried to defy any image, especially the one in Vivah . My image in Vivah has helped me find a place amongst the masses which I don’t want to destroy. I believe I have always had distinct looks in my films. May it be Vivah or Main Hoon Na or even Masti . I have always managed to surprise the audience. In My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves I play an assistant director, it’s a complete non glamorous role as they don’t have the time to dress up. The romantic song is a dream sequence and is one of my best romantic songs ever.
How did a Shyam Benegal film fall into your scheme of things?
It’s a film called Typist Mahadev . It’s a satirical comedy. Everyone has a preconceived notion about Shyam Benegal which is about to change. This time around his film is going to be a commercial one with a great story line. One day I got a call from Shyam Benegal’s office and I was told that Shyam Benegal wants to meet me. Shyam Benegal has been the topper in my wish list of the directors I want to work with. I did not even ask what the film or my role is about. I just said I am on!
The film stars Shreyas Talpade. I have become a big fan of his after working with him. There are also many theatre actors in the film like Yashpal Sharma, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta and many more.
There were reports that the role offered to you in Anil Kapoor’s Shortcut was earlier offered to Lara Dutta but she refused because she did not want to be paired opposite Arshad Warsi. Do you have any such reservations?
I am not aware as Arshad Warsi doesn’t have a heroine in the film. This offer came to me before Vivah and I took it up.
What is the film about?
Shortcut is a thriller. You do have comedy because of Arshad. There is also Akshaye Khanna in the film. Both Akshaye and Arshad have evolved as such fine actors.
Why was the original director of the film changed from Roshan Andrews to Neeraj Vora?
I am not aware of this because when I was roped in for the film they did not have a director.
Have you seen the original Tamil film ‘Udayananu Tharam’ from which Shortcut is being remade?
I haven’t seen the Tamil version but there is a new look to this film. The Tamil version is quite old and people’s sensibilities have changed now.
Is David Dhawan’s ‘Hook Ya Crook’ happening anytime soon? Or is the project shelved?
I had signed this film before Vivah . It’s a UTV film and they are still gathering the required set up for the film. Sometimes there are factors due to which a film gets delayed.
Also you have signed Victory opposite Harman Baweja.
Yes, I am quite excited for the film. The buzz about Harman is that he is not only a good actor with good looks but also a great dancer. So I am looking forward to work with him. The film is going to be a thriller.
Finally a lot has been spoken about you not doing the Yash Raj Film. Would you like to clarify the issue? Did you have any reservations doing a kissing scene?
Actually it’s all wrong the way it has been portrayed. What happened was that I could not relate to the character which was being offered to me. I met Adi and told him that I won’t be able to do justice to the film as I can’t relate to the character. Adi was very understanding and knew what I was trying to say. He even said that next time we will definitely work together. There were no ego hassles there.
So will you ever do a kissing scene if the script demands it?
Not if they script demands. The day I feel comfortable I will do it. I have always done everything according to my comfort level.