In conversation with Bipasha Basu

Get spooked by 'Aatma'
The photographers have been nagging her for quite a while, so our dusky Bengali beauty quickly darts down to the poolside to please the shutterbugs. She is back soon to finish the interview but not before she has obliged a fan or two eagerly waiting in the lobby to get a picture with her. She settles down to talk about her forthcoming release 'Aatma' and the bond she developed with little Doel. Excerpts from the interview:

Was it a deliberate decision to do two back-to-back horror films?

There was no thought in place, but I would have been very foolish not to do these films. Both films are very entertaining and are sure-shot winners. Not only were the scripts entertaining for the audience, but my characters were also very well-written. You don't always get such good roles written out for women in Hindi films.

The genre does not matter, as long as the film is strong, it's commercial and I am getting to do something that is exciting for me.

Do you believe in ghosts at all?

I am scared of them. If they do exist, I don't want to mess with them. I am absolutely petrified of anything which is the unknown -- darkness, ghosts….

Nawazuddin Siddique's performance was one of the most talked about actors last year. How was your experience of working with Nawaz?

On day one they told me that they are going to approach Nawaz for Abhay's role and I said that there couldn't be a better idea. We are playing a couple, who is in an arranged marriage set-up and the wife goes through domestic violence at home. Our characters are supposed to be against each other from the very beginning.

Nawaz is very good. He was a little intimidated by me but I had to break the ice by talking to him. He is a complete gentleman, he is sweet and he always smiles. But when it came to working together we gave each other complete freedom. I told Nawaz, I am a fit girl and you can do anything, don't hesitate even for a second. The idea was to be as real as possible and you can see that in the scenes.

I had been working on the script of Aatma for the last four years. I am fascinatd by horror and the supernatural but I want to keep it as real as possible.
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India Movies Editorial
Fri 22 Feb, 2013 2:30 PM IST
What are your favourite moments from this film?

This film will always be special because I get to play a mother and I have played this role with all my heart. And in the process, I have become really attached to little Doel. Whenever she goes back to Delhi, it is kind of depressing because she is such a wonderful child and she is so affectionate.

I am protective about her, even when I was not in the scenes, I would stand and watch what she is doing, whenever there was a harness shot or something. It's just wonderful, I have had a beautiful experience, something that only I can feel, and I really can't express it in words how beautiful it is to be a mother.

What is difficult working with a child artiste?

Looking after a child is not always fun; they are moody, they are irritable, they are sleepy…

On the second day when we were going to shoot a scene, Doel went off to sleep and I asked Suparn (Verma, director of the film), what do we do? He said we just wait, let her wake up and then we do the scene. It is tough working with a child actor; it needs a lot of patience and focus. To make it look real, you actually have to like children and the child has to like you, you can't create it. Luckily for us, we both liked each other a lot and that shows in the film.

What were the other challenges of doing this role?

It's the fact that you have to bring out the emotions of a mother. There are many heart-wrenching moments in the film. It is just not a horror film, it is first a film with great human drama and the conflict of relationships between these three people is the focus of the film. For the 90 minutes, you'll be thoroughly entertained but you will also feel very emotional.

You have done romantic-comedies, thrillers, horror - Which is your favourite genre?

For me a film is a film, I don't classify them as genres. I think there is fun in watching every kind of film, if it is a good film. Horror films are very new in our Indian space because very few people make good supernatural films. The Indian audience is still getting a feel of it and they are responding positively to it.

To watch a thriller or a horror film in the theatre is a lot of fun because of the latest technology. There are a lot of new tools to play with, so the visual entertainment from a horror film or a thriller is more than that of a comedy or a drama.

Films like 'Kahaani' and 'English Vinglish' have become so popular. Do you think roles are now being written for women?

I have been in this industry for 13 years; it always makes noise for that moment because one film works. People say it's a great time to be a woman; great writing will happen for women, nothing happens.

You are not positive about this change?

I am positive but I am not foolish. I definitely know that there has been a change from 2002 to now. I was called unconventional when I did a bold, adult film with a negative role in it. Everyone was asking me, 'Are you insane?' But it got accepted, women started doing dark, negative roles and it was fine to be sexually confident on screen. There are a lot of things that have changed about a woman but the pace has been so slow.

If Vidya does four good films, it is really not helping 15 other good actresses in our business. It is a good phase for her because films have been written for her. She has actually taken the risk and done two films which have worked. She has been a little irregular and done it. So every time someone takes a risk and a challenge, if it works then more scripts are written.

I belong to the breed where I try and do irregular, my process has been to try and move away from the rest but the change is very slow. The good thing is at least it is happening.