Over the last decade, there's been a lot of hype about Bollywood actors crossing over to Hollywood. What's interesting is that the picture is no different for Hollywood actors. They too are vying for a slice of the Bollywood fame. Indian cinema has seen its fair share of international faces, the most notable being Rachel Shelly (Lagaan), Brande Roderick (Out of Control), Antonio Bernath (Kisna), Annabelle Wallace (Dil Jo Bhi Kahey), Alice Patten (Rang De Basanti) Linda Arsenio (Kabul Express) and Ali Larter (Marigold). These women have proved that B-town is just as desirable as Hollywood.
Joining the bandwagon of Western actresses moving to the Bollywood circuit is Mexican actress Barbara Mori. She made her B-town debut alongside Hrithik Roshan in the romantic-thriller Kites. The 32-year-old actress' Uruguayan-Japanese-Mexican roots will have helped her make the move more easily. "Honestly, I was very excited when I was offered the Bollywood film, as it was an opportunity to understand a new style of cinema and a different audience. It was entirely different to the Mexican film industry. But the transition wasn't difficult as the people I worked with are extremely professional and helpful," says Mori.
Even the foreign language didn't prove difficult. "Luckily, Hrithik was my official translator. He would translate anything that was said in Hindi, so I wasn't clueless about what was being said."
For Mori, Kites proved more than just an entry into Bollywood. "Kites is the biggest film of my career. It's not just a Bollywood film but a true international project, with dialogues in Hindi, English and Spanish. Frankly, prior to Kites I had no clue about Bollywood and didn't know any actors. When Anurag Basu and Rakesh Roshan contacted me in Los Angeles and narrated the story, I was immediately drawn to the passionate love story where the lovers don't understand each other's language and yet share an amazing chemistry. I knew that I had to do it as it's a unique experience."
Through Kites Mori got an opportunity to try her hand at high-voltage action sequences. The action stunts required her to jump off a speeding motorbike onto a truck and participate in a dangerous car chase scene. Despite being a first-timer, she claims it was a wonderful experience. "I was not scared at all, because I like danger. I was very impressed with the action director and the way he executed the car crashes and explosions. Hrithik is extremely good at action and I got to learn a lot from him. Actually, the action director dissuaded me from doing the stunts because it was dangerous. But I persuaded Hrithik to convince the action director."
She says the underwater shoot was the most dangerous. "It was a frightening experience as I'm hydrophobic. It was Hrithik who helped me calm down and complete the shoot."
In Mori's opinion, Hrithik is a knight in shining armour and this had a positive impact on their sizzling on-screen chemistry. Mori has drawn a fair amount of critical acclaim and she attributes the success to Hrithik for being an understanding and cooperative co-star. "Working with Hrithik was an amazing experience because he is a good companion and now a good friend. As co-stars, Hrithik and I got along really well. He helped me tackle a few scenes. Whenever I had a problem, he came to my rescue."
Long before the film's release, Kites was in the news for the alleged link-up between Hrithik and Mori. Some reports even claimed it affected Hrithik's domestic life. Adding fuel to the rumours, Mori shares some bold scenes with Hrithik. These sizzling scenes were cut from the Hindi version, but retained for the international Kites - The Remix.
"Shooting for a romantic or intimate scene is not unusual in Mexican films and so I didn't have any reservation with the passionate scenes as it helps the story to move ahead." She further clears the air around the rumoured link-up. "I am amused by the media. Thankfully Suzzanne [Hrithik's wife] and Hrithik were not perturbed by it, though at times it was distressing. I've learnt to accept that such controversial link-ups are part of the film-making business."
Despite Kites' lukewarm response, Mori has caught the fancy of Indian audiences and Bollywood has given her the thumbs-up. In fact, there is talk of Basu signing her on for another film and Zoya Akhtar giving her a slot in her next venture that stars Hrithik, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol and Farhan Akhtar. "I definitely would love to do Bollywood films in the future as I had a great experience working for Kites. I haven't signed [on for] any films so far. Now I am hoping only for Kites to do well across the globe."
Now that Mori is familiar with Bollywood and has worked with one of its hottest stars, she is shortlisting the leading man for her next venture. "Shah Rukh Khan," exclaims Mori excitedly. She can't wait for some filmmaker to cast them together. And, if Khan agrees to do a film with her then she promises to overcome the language barrier just like Katrina Kaif did.
- Mori worked as a waitress before she became a model at the age of 14
- She has a 12-year-old son from her ex-boyfriend and Mexican actor Sergio Mayer
- Mori became a star on the telly with the Mexican serial Mirada de mujer (The gaze of a woman) before making her big screen debut with the Argentinean flick Inspiración
- La mujer de mi hermano (The wife of my brother) is her biggest Spanish blockbuster
- Mori had gone completely bald for her role in Spanish flick Cosas Insignificantes (Insignificant Things) and had hair an an inch longwhen Rakesh and Basu met her for the Kites narration.