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Tina Desai: Experience overrides box office success

Hollywood's 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' collected an estimated $8.1 million in its opening weekend in the US, but Indian actress Tina Desai, who features in it, says the experience of working for such a film is far more important to her than its box office performance.

Tina Desai
Tina Desai

Tina, who plays Sunaina - an ambitious and independent girl working at and managing the affairs of the Marigold Hotel in the film - made her acting debut with "Yeh Faasley". She rose to popularity after "Table No. 21", in which she co-starred with Paresh Rawal and Rajeev Khandelwal.

All of 28, she says she has had an "eventful and great learning experience" while paving her way through Bollywood.

"In terms of box office success, 'Table No. 21' was the most impactful, but the other films have helped me grow personally, and for me, the experience of working on a film is far more important than just the business," Tina told IANS in an interview.

"Most of what I've learnt is too personal or controversial to share, but nevertheless, experiences have helped me understand things better and have been necessary for what my journey in future will be," she added.

For her role in the "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (2011), which is the first film of the franchise, Tina went through three auditions - once for the casting director and twice for John Madden, the director.

"I was the only newcomer in the entire cast list; so John showed tremendous faith in me by giving me the part, but auditioned me for all my scenes in the movie. He had a thorough look at my entire work profile before casting me. The second film happened automatically though," she said.

The sequel releases in Indian theatres on Friday.

Having worked with famed international stars like Judi Dench and Richard Gere in the "Marigold Hotel" franchise, Tina says the experience was "eye-opening" for her.

Talking about her experience with the stars, Tina said: "It was very eye-opening, because when you watch someone from a different culture perform, it can be very refreshing to watch him deliver dialogues; have a body language and performing styles that are not what I'm used to as an Indian.

"It helped me think more out-of-the-box. Also, to watch such senior actors be part of the process irrespective of the challenges one can face on a shoot, without any complaint, showed great discipline...It's something I intend on being throughout my entire career."

"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" also features Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy and Lillete Dubey in pivotal roles.

Asked if she felt nervous working with such accomplished actors, Tina said: "Yes. I prepared and rehearsed tons before shoot began... Also, all the actors are so re-assuring and motivate you after every shot. They never make you feel small or new, or anything but special. That energy brings out the best in everybody."

How about the difference between Bollywood and Hollywood?

"There is no significant difference in each industry. What does make it different is the culture, which makes a relationship different. Major differences in projects happen due to budget, director's styles and genre of script, not industry," she said.

Tina, who considers Helena Bonham Carter her idol because of "her range, uniqueness and relaxed attitude", says the biggest challenge in her career has been the fact that she's not being affected by praise.

"The biggest challenge is to not be affected by praise because a lot of it is not from the heart. Being true to yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, when everyone out there has a strong opinion and wants to give advice, is another challenge.

"Listening to your instincts, while being the easiest, can also be the hardest thing to do," she said.

Tina will be next seen in "Sense8", a Netflix series due to release on June 5, followed by "Dussehra", a political thriller which is in post-production as of now.

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