Was life imitating art when actors Bipasha Basu and Esha Gupta made a joint appearance in Dubai to promote their horror film Raaz 3 in Dubai?
In town to talk up their film about a fading diva (Basu) who resorts to black magic to thwart her young, rising rival Sanjana (Gupta), the two never made eye contact in the hour-long press interaction — but were gregarious when it came to chatting with their onscreen hero Emraan Hashmi, who had accompanied them for the press junket.
Their apparent animosity became more pronounced in tactful responses when asked about working with each other.
“Bipasha and I had just two scenes together,” said Gupta about her experienced peer.
Fortunately, they were more elaborate when it came to other aspects of the film. While Basu almost became an emotional wreck after playing the disturbed diva Shanaya, Hashmi, who plays a film director with questionable morals, declared that he’s done with sequels.
“I had to push myself to dark depths in this film. There were times when I just wanted a break and run off to Goa,” said Basu.
Playing the morbid Shanaya:
“I play an actress who wants eternal fame and she will get it at any cost. There are several layers to her. She’s confident and in control, but she’s fragile at the same time because she allows her fears to fall on the dark side. My character is beyond black.”
The challenges that came with the role:
“It was not a pleasant experience playing Shanaya. There was never a day when I felt good playing her. I was emotionally disturbed and I never went to sleep at night. During the shoot, I never met people and I was always hoping for the film’s shooting to end. I even had an emotional breakdown on the set. Also, I don’t like baring my emotions to such an extent that you start feeling vulnerable. This is an acting exercise that I have never ventured into.”
What she took away from Raaz 3:
“The film helped me break many barriers. It taught me that it is fine to be emotional and vulnerable. All these years, all those around me like my sister, friends and fans who idolise me think that I am very strong. I tried to live up to that. But during the course of the film, I realised it’s OK to feel vulnerable. You don’t need to be strong after going through the worst day in your life. It was such a revelation.”
Returning to the Raaz franchise (she began her career with the original):
“I was an irresponsible child when I took on Raaz. I didn’t even know if I wanted to be an actor. All I knew is that I was bored of being a model. I was clueless about the film business or the opportunities that came my way. But today, I am an evolved woman and I am a better actor. I have learnt everything on the job and now I have experienced life. So I am less inhibited on the screen. At 19, I think I lacked that vital experience that comes with living life and some emotions.”
Bollywood horror films being lame:
“I am not the right person to answer this question. I get scared easily. Just stand behind the door and say ‘boo’ and I will jump out of my skin. All I can say is that director Vikram Bhatt knows the art of scaring.”
Whether she ever practiced black-magic or felt intense jealousy in real life:
“I have not felt such intense jealousy. But I am sure it happens. This film reveals emotions that are quite real. But I have not reached a point in my career where I need to feel envious.”
Acting with serial-kisser Emraan Hashmi:
“Besides locking lips, he’s an experienced actor and a powerhouse performer.”
“I play a film director who’s not your stereotypcial holier-than-thou hero you see in Bollywood candy-floss romances. I am flawed and I have a dysfunctional relationship in this one too. Here I am stuck between two beautiful women. It’s a hard job because he has this moral and ethical dilemma. On one hand there’s Shanaya whom he owes his career to and on the other hand there’s this young star Sanjana who is drawn to. He’s jacked.”
Whether he’s superstitious in real life:
“I am fairly superstitious. I wear rings on all my fingers except my thumb. Don’t ask me what each gem-stone represents. All I know is that it’s supposed to beat stress”.
Whether he would stoop to black magic to thwart his enemies:
“I would not stop at black magic. I will find more exciting ways to get back [at] people. Black magic is so tame and I would definitely improvise.”
Raaz 3 being his ultimate sequel:
“I have been feeling swamped with this whole sequel business. I have acted in Murder 2, Jannat 2 and now Raaz 3. It’s already in overdrive. I want some breathing space.”
Where Bollywood horror films go wrong:
Sometimes, filmmakers over-do the horror element and leaves nothing to a viewers’ imagination. My belief is, don’t show the monster in the first frame because you will lose your audience once they reach that peak. Hollywood and Korean flicks have mastered the art of scaring film buffs, but Bollywood is slowly getting there. There’s no better filmmaker than Vikram Bhatt to get us closer to that goal.
“I play this young actress who rises quickly to the top. Every producer and director wants to work with her and roles are written specifically with her in mind. She’s a simple girl who believes in the goodness of people and is known to take people at face value. There’s a dialogue in the film that defines her best: ‘Acting is my profession but not my personality.’
Working with Bipasha Basu:
“Bipasha and I have just two scenes together. She seems very secure. She has been so long in the industry.”
The most challenging part:
“Shooting a scene with imaginary cockroaches and shrieking in the right place.”
“This is not your typical Hindi horror film where things just crawl out of the floor. It’s spooky in the real sense. Perhaps it may not make you scream but it will startle and make you jump off your seat.”