Ileana D’cruz may be doing only a handful films, but that’s the way she likes it. After being part of the South industry, she made her Bollywood debut with Anurag Basu’s ‘Barfi’ (2012) followed by ‘Phata Poster Niklla Hero’ (2013), ‘Main Tera Hero’ and ‘Happy Ending’ (both 2014), ‘Rustom’ (2016) and recently ‘Mubarakan’. We catch up with her at a production house’s office, where she’s promoting her next, ‘Baadshaho’.
You are playing a badass character in ‘Baadshaho’.
I love the fact that I am doing something which I wanted to for a long time. I was surprised when Milan [director, Luthria] offered me the role. As it is a central character, I am aware that it comes with a certain responsibility, so I had to contain my excitement. I irritated the hell out of the director by asking him to start the film as soon as possible. It was an emotional journey for me — from being excited to breaking down on the last day. I cried like crazy when Milan announced on the speakers, ‘That was Ileana’s last shot.’ These are the kind of roles that are liberating and I hope our hard work pays off.
You’ve done six films and have always played the leading lady. Is that a conscious decision?
Yes. There have been lots of films which were offered to me that had great scripts, but I said no to them. I don’t want to be part of a film, where I have nothing to do. I am a selfish actor. I want to have a stellar role in a successful film. I would never settle for anything less. I compete with myself and push myself to breaking point to get what I want.
Most of your films have been an ensemble cast. Does it ever get to a point where you question your screen time?
Like I said, I’d do a film only if my character adds value to it. My intuition plays a strong part in selecting the films. I took a long time to say yes to Barfi because there was Ranbir [Kapoor] and Priyanka [Chopra] in the film so why would someone look at me? At the end of the film, I wasn’t even getting the guy [laughs]. All the films that I have done are because of the strong intuition.
You are a private person and avoid media glare.
I like to disconnect when I am not shooting and I am selective about the people I want to spend time with. I can’t make small talk. If I am at a party, I should know someone or else I drag a person along. Otherwise, I’d be awkward standing in a corner looking like a fool. I can’t sugar-coat and praise people for the sake of it. It’s not that I don’t love to socialise, but not as often as other people would do.
Would you ever open up about your relationship with Australian beau Andrew Kneebone?
I doubt that will ever happen. I’ve been working in the industry for 11 years. It’s taken me a lot to understand the working culture. We actors get a lot of love, but at times, we get double the amount of negativity for no reason whatsoever. There are times when the comments become nasty. It’s not fair for him to go through it. He is a normal person and is entitled to his privacy. I have had people coming and telling me that he is not an Indian and I find it stupid. He is someone who has been special to me and I don’t want to be in a situation where my family is targetted for no fault of theirs.
Do you discuss these issues?
Initially, we did because there are a lot of Hindi phrases and words that he doesn’t understand [laughs]. But we tend to ignore it most of the time. For us, the most important part has been accepting each other. There was a time when I had to explain to him that people will speak rubbish, but you and I know each other and that’s what matters. I feel it all boils down to commitment.
Does he give you a feedback or opinion on your films?
Yes sometimes. But we are clear that this is my line of work and he has his own, which is photography. We don’t interfere in each other’s professional front. In fact, my family gives me a lot of feedback. I do not like to be told what to do, but in the end I take my own decisions.
Do you plan to get hitched anytime soon?
I think marriage and live-in relationship aren’t really different. It is just a piece of paper that separates the two. Marriage is great for a lot of people. It changes a lot of things between two people, but I don’t look at it in that way. My commitment towards him is not going to change.
Have you ever thought about the fact that married actresses don’t get work?
It is an accepted norm that this is the way the industry functions. I can either accept it and move on. Or choose to fight it for the rest of my life. I’d choose the first option. We have had many instances of actresses, who have been super talented, but they didn’t get offers as after marriage, which is unfair. I am happy with the work that I have got so far. Personally and professionally, I am in a great space. There are no complaints.
Photos: Ileana D’Cruz rocks the ripped jeans look
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