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Minissha Lamba: Going de-glam was new for me

Last updated on: March 23, 2010 13:40 IST

'Going de-glam was new for me'

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Nithya Ramani in Mumbai

She first appeared on the film scene with Yahaan in 2005. Since then Minissha Lamba has acted in a couple of films like Bachna Ae Haseeno and Kidnap.

The films didn't exactly set the box office on fire though her skimpy outfits in Kidnap did manage to keep her in the news.

Now, the actress hopes that she will be noticed for her acting in this Friday's release Well Done Abba directed by Shyam Benegal, where she sports a de-glam look. After all she is playing a village school kid in the movie, which also stars Boman Irani and Sammir Dattani.

Nithya Ramani finds out more. Excerpts:

You don't look gaon ki ladki in anyway...

[Laughs] This is indeed something I have never done before. I play a village girl Muskaan. She's a school-going kid in pigtails, who wears a white salwar kurta with a well-pleated blue dupatta. I have no clue how Shyam sir saw Muskaan in me!

I got a call from his office asking me to meet him, and that he had a role for me in his next film. I didn't think twice, because it was Shyam sir! I was willing to do any role he offered me, as long as I was working with him.

Well Done Abba is a comedy, a political satire and a very entertaining film. Muskaan isn't the stereotypical village girl. She is bold, confident and lives her life on her own terms.

Her father -- Abba aka Armaan Ali -- is a progressive Muslim, who does something to deserve a pat on the back.


Image: A scene from Well Done Abba

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'I was confident of my Hindi, but was very nervous to speak in Dakhni'

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You must have been psyched to work with Shyam Benegal...

For me, he is an institution. He is one of the best directors we have, and I am very honoured to have worked with him.

He is very calm and doesn't get angry easily. He managed to maintain his cool and was always patient even when shooting in extreme climatic conditions.

We were shooting in Chikatpali in Hyderabad, and it was very, very hot there. Shyam sir, without a frown on his face, would sit right in the sun. I thought, "If he can sit there without any problem, then I who am I to sit in my AC van."

He was more chilled out than any of us on the sets. I made sure I was on my best behaviour.

It seems you had to speak in a different dialect for the film?

Yes. Dakhni, an Urdu dialect that a section of Muslims speak [in the Deccan region]. I was a little apprehensive but Shyam sir said I could do it. I was confident of my Hindi, but was very nervous to speak in Dakhni. I practiced and practiced even en route from the Hyderabad airport to the sets. I asked my driver to speak to me in the language.


Image: A scene from Well Done Abba

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'The fact that we are playing Muslim characters is only coincidental'

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This is the second time you're working with Boman Irani...

Yes, we worked together in Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. Boman is a wonderful person. He would always keep us in high spirits on the sets. He made sure that we were never idle. Even during breaks he kept our minds occupied. We would play a word puzzle -- Donkey. I constantly was thinking of words, because I didn't want to become a Donkey! [laughs] He was just like a father figure to us all. It was a sheer pleasure working with him.

What about Sameer Dattani? You have worked with him in Corporate.

Yes. It was nice to work with him again. We were good friends then, but after the film we lost touch. We picked up from where we left off while shooting for Well Done Abba. It was fun.

Does the film deal with the Hindu-Muslim divide?

The film is not about that. The fact that we are playing Muslim characters is only coincidental.


Image: A scene from Well Done Abba

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'I want to do a period drama like Jodhaa Akbar'

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You say that Muskaan is not like you. So how did you connect with the character? Were you able to relate to her?

Sure, there are differences between myself and the character, but there are similarities also. She is bold, confident and independent. So am I. She is very real. People can relate to her.

You once said that you didn't intentionally become an actor. It just happened. How do you think the industry reacts to newcomers and those who do not come from a filmi background?

I didn't face any problem. I think the industry is very warm and welcoming. Of course, if you have a filmi background, people know you better. That doesn't necessarily mean that you will go all the way. They recognise talent and appreciate it.

What are the kinds of roles you want to play?

I want to do a period drama. Something exactly like Jodhaa Akbar. I loved the film and wished I was a part of it. I am more interested in history than anything else.


Image: A scene from Well Done Abba

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'I think this was my only film where I could get as dirty as I wanted'

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You have tried your hand at different roles and done different things. You learned to dance for Honeymoon Travels and to ride a bike and swim in the ocean in Kidnap. What new things have you tried in Well Done Abba?

I am constantly learning something. Always. Learning Dakhni was new for me. Going de-glam was new as well. I think this was my only film where I could get as dirty as I wanted and sweat as much as I wanted. The more dirty and sweaty I was, the better it was for the character.

So I didn't wear too much make up or worry about touch ups at all. At the very least, I wanted to use kajal. But Shyam sir has a sharp eye, and he would immediately ask me to take it off, because Muskaan wouldn't use kajal.

What are you other hobbies? What else do you like to do apart from acting?

I am an adventurous person and like adventurous sports. I recently went kite surfing in Goa. It was fun! My parents live there, and I visit them often. Every time I go there, I try and do something adventurous.

What are you favourite Shyam Benegal films?

I have seen some of his work, but I totally love everything I've seen like Nishanth, Mandi, Ankur, Welcome to Sajjanpur and even his film on Subash Chandra Bose.


Image: A scene from Well Done Abba

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