Veena Malik shot to fame when she tip-toed in her stilettos on reality show Bigg Boss. Having been a Pakistani actress and model, being on the reality show seemed like an ideal platform to display her skills to Indian producers and directors who could check if she were an ideal fit for possible roles. And while Sunny Leone became an instant hit with the Bhatts, Veena has managed to use her reality TV clout to bag 5 films in India which have already been filmed and are awaiting a release date. But the verdict for her Bollywood debut is out in 'Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai' which released last week. While the film didn't manage to get her the national attention and interest she had hoped for, she is still hopeful and comfortable with the fact that the industry has accepted her. In a casual chat with Kunal Guha, she talks about her debut, the kind of roles that fit her like a glove and characters she would rather avoid playing. Here's a transcript of the conversation:
What excited you about your role in 'Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai!' to consider it?
Once I exited the Bigg Boss house, I got lots of offers to act in Bollywood films. But when I met Anandji (Anand Balraj), he told me that he had seen me in the Bigg Boss house and that he would watch me every day on the show. He said that he had written the film only keeping me in mind. He added that if I didn't accept the role, he probably wouldn't make the movie at all. So I agreed to go through the script and I found that it had some relationship with my experiences in the Bigg Boss house. The storyline was very funny and challenging as well. It was a girl-next-door yet a mysterious character so I thought that I should go for it.
Since this is your Bollywood debut, were there any myths about the industry that were shattered or anything that surprised you about the way the industry functions?
There was one thing that I found very strange. When I started working on this film, I was obviously very new to Bollywood but one very strange feeling that I had was that I never felt like a stranger. May be it's because of my love for my work or perhaps because I have always been associated with the entertainment industry. I started my career with modeling and then moved on to films in Pakistan. I got by first break in films and TV simultaneously in 2007. So I was familiar with the industry in Pakistan but I had just heard a lot about Bollywood and I had heard that it's very difficult to make a mark here and that challenge was a worry for me. The competition is very high in Bollywood. But I was very comfortable working in Bollywood. I am very honest when it comes to my work and I am very dedicated to what I do. This is because I love what I do. And I know that since I am coming from another country, it's even more challenging. A lot of people manage to come to Bollywood and do a few films but to make a mark in this industry is quite a challenge and I didn't feel that challenge for a single day when I was working on this film.
Since you are familiar with the film industry in Pakistan and now you've had your brush with Bollywood, what are the similarities between the two industries? And are there any differences between the two?
Many years ago the Pakistani film industry could be compared to Bollywood. But lately, there are very few films made in Pakistan, just 4-5 films per year. So there is no comparison. And technically and exposure-wise, the Indian film industry is incomparable. Indian films have also gone international and the professionalism in India is at its best. I've worked with the biggest banners in Pakistan and have done around 7-8 films there but it didn't have the kind of exposure that Indian films get. But I hope and pray that in the future, the Pakistani film industry also reaches that stage and gets recognized.
As an actor, do you think that you've leant anything from your experience in 'Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai'?
I learn every day. Every day I feel like I've begun my career and I still have a lot to learn. But since this is my first step into Bollywood, I was very excited to learn all that I could. I've completed shooting 5 films in India but this one is the first to release and each film keeps teaching me different things.
While no actor would want to admit that they're comfortable in certain kind of roles, do you think certain characters come more naturally to you than others?
I just feel very comfortable with intense roles in offbeat films. And in each film that I am doing, I have a completely different character. But I can never do a bubbly, girl-next-door, I wouldn't be comfortable doing that. This is because if I stand in front of the camera, I know that I look pretty so what's so special about that? In 'Zindagi 50-50', when I tried to adopt the character, it came so naturally to me. I don't want to assume how it would turn out or how people would appreciate or accept it. But I know that characters that are deep and dense, glamourous or non-glamourous, I just feel very comfortable performing them. Main shayad pichle janam mein koi bohot badi actress rahi hongi stage mein (laughs).
What were the challenges that you experienced while essaying your character in this film?
Every character that you play on the screen poses as a new challenge. Here, I am playing a double role, so I had to keep both the characters distinctly separate and different from each other. Then the entire film revolves around this girl's character so that was a big thing. I doubt if there's any other actor in the world who has played a double role in their very first film and that itself was a big challenge for me.
Is 'Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai!' a horror film? What kind of films do you like to watch at home?
It's not a horror film. It's a crazy funny story. It's simply a funny and entertaining film. Honestly, I must've switched on my TV a year and a half ago. I don't prefer going to the movie hall to watch a movie. The last movie I saw was Angelina Jolie's 'Salt'. Among Hindi films, the last I saw was 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'. I don't like watching romantic comedies or love stories. I enjoy watching documentaries and National Geographic shows. I also love murder mysteries, psycho thrillers and Youtube videos. I love American documentaries which are based on real people and situations and I usually prefer watching them Youtube.
Since you have worked in both the Indian and Pakistani film industries, how would distinguish between the audiences in both the countries?
I think Indian audiences are awesome, they will not sleep without watching a movie, whether it's a hit or a flop. They're addicted to cinema and I think India is a nation which acknowledges cinema. Pakistan doesn't have a cinema culture and there's no crazy love for films. That is one of the biggest differences.
What would be a source of entertainment in Pakistan?
Live shows and what's shown in news channels is the only source of entertainment. They show live fights and political fights on news channels and people enjoy that. But the biggest source of entertainment is going out to eat as Pakistanis are foodies. But that's sad as Pakistanis love films and cinema and I hope that in the future that changes and Pakistani films become more popular there. Recently, even Indian TV serials have become popular in Pakistan and Pakistani TV dramas are picking up now.
So which are your upcoming films in the coming year?
All my films are releasing by end of this year. After this one, I have 'Zindagi 50-50', '125 kms', 'Super Model' and 'The Dirty Picture' (Kannada).
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