You star in four major releases – Rowdy Rathore, Joker, Son of Sardar and Dabangg 2 — in 2012. Where do you expect to be by December 31 this year?
Hopefully, somewhere good. I feel fortunate that the Hindi film industry has accepted me in a big way. But I don’t think of reaching some predetermined goal; I like to live in the moment. I am feeling excited and positive right now. It was a big day when Dabangg released, nothing was certain and I didn’t know what to expect. Now, I am experiencing the same feeling that I had before Dabangg.
It’s a bit of a feast-after-a-famine situation — after Dabangg there was an 18-month gap before your second release. How did you handle the phase away from the spotlight?
I was not sitting at home. I was busy. I was performing at award functions and also did some shows. I did interviews and photo shoots for magazines. I never felt out of the industry.
Your films are opposite stars such as Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn. But that means they are all male-oriented. Do you expect to be nominated for any of these movies?
I don’t think these films will help me grab awards. But that is not the criteria when I sign a film — I have to like the character. I am trying to portray different roles but I am still new and there is a lot of time for me to explore different genres of cinema.
Lootera sounds like a love story with you in an equally important role as the hero, Ranveer Singh. But it has been delayed.
Lootera is the most challenging film I am working on right now. It’s a love story and director Vikramaditya Motwane (of Udaan fame) has given us great roles. I play a Bengali girl. Vikramaditya is true to his art and drives us to perform. I am just waiting for the movie to release to know whether I have got my character right. Unfortunately, Lootera has got delayed due to several reasons — firstly it was the weather and then Ranveer got injured.
Lootera is a period film — and most people feel you are the only contemporary heroine who looks like she belongs to an earlier era.
I take it as a big compliment if people feel that I look like I belong to an earlier era. This is what gets me certain roles and that’s how I bagged Dabangg too. Lootera is a period film so you have to learn to be the character and that’s an art. I think I have managed to learn many things with this film.
Prabhu Deva is directing you in Rowdy Rathore; are you dancing up a storm?
I love to dance and Prabhu Deva is an icon. Akshay and I have a lot of dancing in Rowdy Rathore; and certain steps were very difficult. Actually, there is a song choreographed by Saroj Khan, which will be something worth checking out.
You are playing the simple Indian girl in Rowdy Rathore too. You seem stuck with this image.
That is fine with me. I play a small-town girl from Patna in Rowdy Rathore. What’s wrong with that? In all my movies the Indian girl is portrayed differently. I am happy to play such characters.
So will we get to see you in Western outfits ever — short dresses, bikinis etc?
I play an NRI girl in Joker, a Bengali in Lootera, a Sardarni in Son Of Sardar and you have seen my look in Dabangg 2. Each look is very special and different. I am not missing out on anything. I am comfortable with what works. There is a certain samiksha (limit) that people see me within; and I am okay with that. I don’t think it will affect my opportunities.
Is your Dabangg dialogue – ‘Thappad se dar nahin lagta sahib, pyar se lagta hai’ — true in real life too?
It’s true. I am not taking that seriously because I am not looking for love right now. It will happen on its own accord since it is not something that you can force.
Do Ranveer and you share chemistry off screen too?
No. We don’t hang out. We share a professional relationship. We meet on the sets, work well and that’s it.
Do you feel that you are still recognised as Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter or have you created your own identity?
I have got my share of appreciation after Dabangg and I hope it grows. But I will always be Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter, no matter how big I become or old I get.