Being a leading lady in Vishesh Films is special. If the role is author backed, sky is the limit for a girl, who kick starts her career with a film coming from the house of Bhatts. Kangana Ranaut had a first hand experience with Gangster and hasn't looked back ever since. Mallika Sherawat too got a re-launch of sorts with Murder but couldn't quite capitalise on that.
Now is the turn of Neha Sharma, who begins her Bollywood sojourn with Crook. While one waits to see which way does the pretty girl go from here, this correspondent catches up with her on the eve of the film's release.
Quite a few debutant girls try to go through a drastic change in their very first outing, whether in terms of looks or their roles, in order to make that big first impression. You seem to be playing safe though by appearing a young contemporary NRI girl in Crook. A conscious move for your first ever Bollywood flick?
Absolutely. There is time for experimentation and with age on my side, I would rather start with playing someone, who is closer to me rather than get into something overtly complicated. In Crook, I am playing an Australian girl belonging to Indian origin. But then again, she isn't one of those NRIs that is projected in most films of today where she get into a complete designer avatar with Western accent and all. Here she is modern, yet simple and understands her roots while her values are intact. She is not someone who can be taken for a ride though and knows where to put a stop when someone tries to act a little too fresh.
Other than the fact that this girl has her own individuality, what's the core purpose of this character?
Well, she is someone who wants to take a stand in life. In her own little ways, she wants to contribute to the society and make a difference. She wants to do things right and follow what is right. The character may not be multi layered but what I get to do is very interesting. I am fortunate to be bagging such a role for my very first film.
Tell me honestly Neha, in a film that carries a theme of racism with a successful team of Bhatts, Emraan Hashmi, Mohit Suri and Pritam around, where does a heroine actually fit in?
See, when you look at any of the films that has been directed by Mohit so far (Zeher, Gangster, Kaluyug, Awarapan, Woh Lamhe, Raaz - The Mystery Continues), it is never about an individual actor, howsoever bigger he or she may be as a star. I am big fan of Mohit. His films are always about characters who are engaging, real and someone with whom you can relate to. Even in Crook, you won't see Emraan playing Emraan or me playing totally myself. You would see them as Jay or Neha.
The film has racial abuse as a theme. Ever felt that it could be a little detrimental to begin in a movie like this since there could be controversies?
No, not really. The film is as commercial as it gets. There is some great music as well as a very cute love story with a little bit of comedy running through it as well. It is very entertaining film and more than racism; it is about these people who are extremely interesting characters. You want to know these people, understand how they get caught up in a series of events. Never once would audience think that 'Oh my God, I have got myself into this heavy weight preachy film'.
But then doesn't racism turn out to be the biggest character of all?
Certainly not, racism is just a backdrop here. The whole film isn't all about racism. The film is about people who have perceptions about life and says that everyone has a mind of his own; it is just that in which direction is it used. The film deals with complicated human emotions about love and hatred, something that everyone can identify with. Crook is just the right start for a newcomer like me.
Not many know though that how did this newcomer bag a project with Bhatts. After all you were basically into fashion designing before you ventured into Telegu cinema. How did Crook happen?
It was quite simple actually. My pictures were sent to Mukesh Bhatt and after our official meeting, I was on. There was no audition per se which makes me believe that Bhatts as well as Mohit were sure that I was well suited to be a part of Crook. I don't even know whether they had seen my Telugu film. Perhaps they were visionaries, they knew what they were getting (laughs).
Who are the other film maker carrying similar vision in Bollywood? Is there something else waiting in the pipeline for Neha?
Of course yes (laughs), there are some more visionaries out there. There are three projects that I am considering. I am yet to sign on the dotted line though.
And what does the pretty girl promise to bring on table in years to come.
Honesty and sincerity. I want to do something interesting which is different from what other people are doing. I want to make sure that every character that I play should turn out to be a dream role. I have to work hard on it and make sure that I manage to deliver what I am promising. I have to give it all to the character so that it comes alive on screen. The biggest happiness that you can get as an actor is when you can make people smile when they look at you. They should be able to say that here is an actor who is sincere and honest in her work.