• Often a young actress will deliver a performance so strong, so mature she is feted as the Next Big Thing. But the description is usually used more in hope than expectation…
Often a young actress will deliver a performance so strong, so mature she is feted as the Next Big Thing. But the description is usually used more in hope than expectation. We all know that many years and many films can pass before she’ll live up to her early promise, if indeed she ever does. But the wait might just be over for the sexy Minissha Lamba. Why sexy? Well, you’ll have to watch Kidnap or if you’re a journo like me, you’ll have to meet her to know the answer. Actually, close observers had been saying this about Lamba for some considerable time. Bollywood Hungama’s London correspondent Devansh Patel met the hottie Minissha in time for breakfast early morning at the producers office in Mumbai to talk about her biggest film till date, Kidnap, and her most talked about ‘white bikini’.
So, you’re wearing red today, which symbolises power. Is Kidnap that powerful?
I’m wearing red today because it’s early in the morning and everyone would be a bit sleepy including me. So hopefully, a bright spot of red would just be the dash everyone needs to wake up. Coming back to the film, all characters are powerful in the film. The role I play of Sonia is a seventeen-year-old girl who is estranged from her father. Her parents are divorced and her constant fight with her mother is that she wants to meet her father. She is rebellious. It has made her a tough girl. Sonia is just waiting to turn eighteen so that no force can stop her from meeting her father. So it was one of those days when a regular fight gets escalated to the point where she storms out of the house and how when she gets kidnapped, the entire change of events is set into motion. How finally her father has to come down because the kidnapper will only speak to her father. Now she has a double mission to get out because her father is finally here and she is trapped in this house with a kidnapper. So now, she is going to make the kidnapper’s life a living hell. Such is her power.
There’s a lot said about your white bikini outfit in the film. Why such a big issue?
I don’t know. You know, I’ve not been a big film buff. But I think in the seventies, we did have makers and an India which was very progressive. Then the 80’s and the 90’s were like the dark ages, which reflected in the cinemas as well. The quality of cinema went down. Now we have a very popular culture and the bikini is back in business. We wear equally sensuous Indian outfits as well. But when you wear a bikini, the westernised form of the ultimate sexy minimalistic outfit, there is a lot of curiosity out in India because we feel that the Indian women are shedding their so called shackles which are representative of conformist clothing. Then you have actresses like Aishwarya, who’ve gone completely gorgeous in Dhoom 2, you’ve got Esha Deol and Bipasha Basu who’re seen clad in a bikini. The recent was Kareena Kapoor in Tashan. So there is nothing that stops me from doing the same. Especially when you’ve got a vehicle that is going to present it well. When you have Sanjay Gadhvi coming to you and saying that I’m going to make you wear a bikini – you’re not going to say no to it. When you have Sanjay Gadhvi coming to you and saying that I’m going to make you wear a bikini – you’re not going to say no to it.
What if some other director comes to you and asks you to wear a bikini in his or her film?
You know what; the whole novelty of doing it is wearing it once. What’s the point of wearing a bikini in my next film release after Kidnap?
We will come back to the bikini issue but tell us how did Sanjay Gadhvi manage to kidnap you for the film?
It was very simple actually. I was called for a general meeting at Shree Ashtavinayak’s office, who are the producers of this film. I was then introduced to Sanjay Gadhvi. I didn’t know that he was signed by the producers. I had no idea about a film called Kidnap. I had no idea that the casting for such a film was happening there. Sanjay started talking and eventually it turned out to be a work meeting. We spoke about the film and he told me straight on that this is what I’m looking at doing. You’ll have to loose weight, you’ll have to wear a bikini and you’ll be dressed in ultra glam clothes. Are you up for it? That’s what I like about his honesty. He put his cards on the table and said that this is it. I don’t want trouble later on. I don’t want you saying that this wasn’t told to me. So if you’re OK with it, we’ll proceed. I had just seen Dhoom 2 then and didn’t we just love Aishwarya in it? Couldn’t we not take our eyes off Hrithik Roshan? So how could I say ‘No’ to Sanjay Gadhvi? I was ready…ready for the change.
Did you ever try wearing a bikini at home and look yourself in the mirror and say – Wow?
Well, I do wear a bikini when I go swimming to the beach but not otherwise. I laze around in the sun and make sure I come back burnt to a crisp. It’s fun but for screen it’s a whole new ball game. I did go back home and saw myself in the bikini. I was like – Oh my God! I need to do a lot of work. It was hard. Wearing a bikini is not easy. It is actually a very tension filled deadline because everyone is going to be looking at you. Your mind is ready for it and your body is talking a completely different tune together. So you need to whip your body into shape and tell that this is what you are going to do.
What different has Sanjay got out of you besides a great sexy body in a bikini in Kidnap?
That’s exactly what I thought. The idea of wearing a two-piece is great but I’m getting kidnapped and a kidnapper is going to put me in a dark corner. Then what’s different about my role? Then he gave me the script to read and it’s not as if I was getting kidnapped and put in a corner and she periodically comes out and creates a tantrum. It’s not that at all. She is a very integral part of the story. She and the kidnapper form a very weird bond, which is different. So, Sonia isn’t just a fancy prop in the film. She is someone who is giving a hard time to Imran because on the one side, he has the father and on the other side, he has this rich spoilt brat to take care of.
Kidnap at one point of time was going to be shelved after Sanjay Dutt’s imprisonment. What was going through your mind?
We all were extremely worried. Ultimately, this is a film. At the end of the day we were worried that we knew Sanju baba was a part of the film before he got arrested. So you do think about the film being shelved or not. Then you pause and think. Wait…this is a human being we are talking about. Projects take off and sometimes don’t. It’s a part of life and even the biggest of actors have got their films shelved for whatever reason. But this was a human being we are talking of right here and that was more important. Suddenly Sanju baba’s trials, which we all used to read about in the papers, became humanised to us because we were a part of it. The tragedy hit us and we started to think that this can’t be happening to us. Please don’t do this to him. Sanju baba has seen enough. Kidnap, the film, was secondary for us at that time. Sanjay Gadhvi was very categorical that he had written this film only for Sanjay Dutt. He said, ‘I have waited for four years for his dates, which means that tomorrow whatever happens, there will be only Sanjay Dutt playing the role of Vikrant Raina and nobody else’.
Tell us a bit about your introduction song, which brings in a lot of colour and flavour in the dull Mumbai rains at the moment.
Thank you very much. Nice to hear that you loved the song. The song was shot in Mauritius and you know I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about Kidnap and it’s been the film where I’ve got to wait the longest for. While we shot this song, we shot it around this time last year, a little late actually. We went in November last year, and I remember that after we shot it, the songs were on my laptop. So I was very sneaky and immediately uploaded the songs. But Gadhvi was ten steps ahead than me. So while on our flight back from Mauritius he asks for my laptop and deletes the song. I said to him that I will not make anyone listen to this song. He said that he trusted me and knew how much I loved this song. I wouldn’t resist myself in making people hear it. But ‘Mausam’ is another song in the album which is my favourite song.
Now brief us about ‘Mausam’ then?
See, this is what I’d like to emphasize. Mayur Puri has written the lyrics and it goes – ‘Mausam Yeh Awesome Bada’. Now anyone would’ve suddenly made the song filmi. But when it came to Gadhvi and the music directors, they knew what they wanted out of the lyrics. The mood of Sonia was important to be captured in this song. She is using an English word, a very regular English teenage expression in a song that is I think one of the most beautiful melodies I’ve ever heard. I liked the way Sanjay Gadhvi shot it too. It’s awesome!!!
You’re now looking a bit tensed. Why?
No. I’m a bit nostalgic. I’m hearing my stomach growling and I’m sure even you can hear it. So we both will share the grilled sandwich when it finally arrives.
I love to see you in pain Minissha. Don’t get me wrong. I’m talking about that one second scene in the trailer where Imran grabs your neck. Was it painful?
It was a beautifully shot scene, I should say. Imran would be very scared and he would gently hold my neck. I said to Imran that I have to resist you. So if I’m going to resist Imran, he will have to hold on to my neck and grab it as if he was going to break it. He was like – Are you sure? I said, ‘Imran, just go for it’. If you’re going to grab my neck thinking that you’re not going to hurt me, I’m just going to break free and the scene would look weird. Imran is such a non-violent person that for him to do this role was really tough because he had to beat up a woman, he had to be cruel, he had to be physically violent, etc. I had to beg him that it was OK if he hurt me. If he grabs my neck and it hurts, I’d love it. After the scene, he apologised to me too.
As the sandwich is making its way to you, tell us about your eating habits while filming Kidnap. I bet you had to stay extra ultra fit.
(Laughs) I was on a very strict diet, which I always carried from home. Maximum I’d have is a chicken from the sets and that’s it. It was home made.
Is it the right time then to tell all the leading ladies of Bollywood, ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’?
October 2 shall tell them.
Is there any action in Kidnap?
See there are a lot of confrontation scenes in the film. The action is mainly between Sanju baba and Imran Khan. Plus I wasn’t there to see the action as I wasn’t a part of it. So can’t really tell you how much of the action is there in the film. Also, I haven’t yet seen the film.
How would you spend 51.7 billion dollars if you had the money right now?
I would first not know how to value it. It just becomes a number then. When you have that amount of money, I assume that you have everything in the world you desire. So what more would I want anyway? Materialistically, there’s nothing to look forward to but ambition wise, the money would definitely count.
U.K. audience don’t know much of Imran Khan and Minissha Lamba. Is it the right time for you and Imran to be in the middle of London’s Leicester Square enacting various scenes from the film?
You know what! If such an idea is on, I’m definitely up for it because as far as the promotion of the film is concerned, one should go all out. Not to ignore your NRI audience. Out here in India, Bollywood is religion. We need to have a premiere out of India and do a lot of other activities to promote our cinema outside India. As an actor, you want to be known worldwide and there are films that are going worldwide and are doing successfully worldwide. As of now, I’ve only got Bachna Ae Haseeno which has done a decent business abroad.
What are your expectations from Kidnap?
That people should love it.
Why is Kidnap going to be worth its wait and watch?
Because it is going to be one of the very few dramatic thrillers coming out of Bollywood. It is one of the very few films that have come out in this genre. It is an extremely well written film. It’s got Sanjay Gadhvi. It’s got Imran Khan who has been loved in Jaane Tu and its got Sanju baba after a sabbatical and of course…it’s got me in a bikini. Aren’t these good enough reasons to go and watch Kidnap?