|Surely, her career has soared to newer heights and she is finally getting the success she always deserved. Stardust catches up with her as she talks about everything – from the joys of success to the pain of heartbreak.
Bipasha is naturally flushed from the massive success of Raaz 3. While many claim that the film brought her back in the reckoning, she chooses to downplay her achievement. “You know, these are really interesting taglines that the media puts on us. The business is such that there are going to be ups and downs. Some films work, some don’t. I have been in the business for too long to understand this. It does not break me or make me. Once you find your niche and you get the acceptance of people, that’s what matters. Because at the end of the day, it’s the people who keep you going. It’s not just talent that counts. Only if the audiences like you, then you stay. Thankfully, in my case, people do like me and that’s the only reason I am here.”
However, the dusky actress does believe that playing a negative role in Raaz 3 helped her as an actor. “Raaz 3 helped me at this point in my career. Everyone thought that a character as dark as Shanaya was well portrayed by me. Even the audience accepts dark roles now. And I’m a very simple person. So if I get to do a dark character, it takes me to a very deep space and I enjoy it. I think I’ve stepped out of my safety zone in Raaz 3 and it helped me. I found this role very tough. I even broke down a couple of times. I’m happy that the film worked because I had put in a lot of effort,” she smiles.
The actress also feels that the horror film gave her an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and tap her potential as an actor. And she considers herself rather fortunate to be given this chance. “As an actress, you can play the pretty girl beside the hero, his arm candy for two or three years. I’ve done that but it didn’t really work for me. I’ve done 55 films and I’ve done a lot of bad films,” she laughs and goes on, “I’ve done films that did not make any sense to me and I was like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But I have done them for money and other reasons. You know, there are various reasons why a heroine has to do films and we have to be very clear about it. I’m sure that all my contemporaries want to break out of their regular mould and want to do something different but sometimes playing safe makes you last longer. So it’s very difficult for an actress to step out of her comfort zone and do something different.”
While Raaz 3 is Bipasha’s biggest money-spinner to date, it even won her all-round applause for her performance. Considering such a huge success came to her after spending a decade in the industry, does she think Bollywood woke up late to her talent? “No, no such thing,” she instantly says and continues, “See, it’s very important to understand the business. Every year, there is a new flavour in town. There was a point when I had come in the industry and I was the new flavour. You need to understand what your USP is and what you want to do in this industry. Everyone has their own threshold of wanting to succeed, of their ambition. I’m a very different breed of an actress. I came into the business, not wanting to be an actor. There were times in my life when I didn’t prioritise acting as the main thing in my life. Still, success has come to me. There have been times when I’ve actually neglected my profession and my work. There were two years in my life when I actually pulled myself back. I just said that I don’t want to do anything. So I have played with my career quite a bit.”
Mulling over the thought, she adds, “There were other priorities in my life at that point of time. So there were reasons why I did it. It wasn’t a foolish decision at that time for me. Looking back, it might look foolish to me but at that time, it seemed the right thing to do. But at the end of the day, acting is all I know and this is what excites me. Now when I go to the sets, I am very motivated and excited to do a new role. I have definitely grown as an individual, I’ve grown as an actor and today I am hands-on on any project that I take. So there has been an individual growth of me as an actor. I believe life has always taken me to a positive side.”
So does she not regret the fact that work had taken a backseat all these years? “Work had not taken a backseat. It was the backseat right from the very beginning,” she corrects and explains, “But I don’t regret it because I think that’s how my journey was supposed to be. I have to say that I’m very blessed that I’m still here. Especially after the way I have kicked opportunities away. You don’t get a second chance in this business, the competition is so tough. But I have got zillions of chances. I really think I’m lucky and I don’t regret anything I did. But I won’t repeat those mistakes either. That’s for sure.”
The Bong beauty sure means it when she says that she won’t repeat her mistakes. Having borne the brunt of a bitter break-up in the not-so-recent past, Bipasha has now, time and again, claimed that she’ll be cautious in matters of the heart henceforth. Even though she is fond of her Singularity co-star Josh Hartnett, she didn’t take the relationship ahead citing this very reason. “You need to be practical in life, it’s very important. When you go through life and its motions, you just learn these things. If you don’t learn, you’ll be a dumb fool for the rest of your life. And I’m not born a dumb fool. I’m quite a bright girl. So the heart might lead you somewhere but you have to sometimes listen to your mind. Keep the heart and mind in balance. I know it’s very easy to say this and actually very difficult when you try to do it. But I’ve pretty much figured it out now. I mean, hopefully,” she laughs.
There’s no denying that Bipasha handled herself with immense grace and composure when her long-standing relationship with John went kaput. However, when she hinted at infidelity as the reason behind their break-up, John did not take too kindly to such accusations. Ask her about John’s denial to such accusations and she coolly states, “That’s fine ya. People have a mouth. They can say what they want to say. See, my memory is very little. Things that have never helped me are erased from my life. In this world, 50 people will like you and 50 will not like you. I’m the kind of person who is bothered only about the 50 people who like me. People who don’t like me, don’t matter to me.”
The heartbreak was a painful experience, but Bipasha believes that it has changed her as a person – and for the better. “Heartbreak makes you grow as a person. You realise your value more. Everything in your life teaches you something. And heartbreak makes you a deeper person, which is a nice thing. You are not so frivolous as a person then. You value and respect things more, especially yourself. You realise that there could be everything in the world that you could buy but you should be the most precious thing for yourself. And it should be you first. I talk about the philosophy of ‘Love Yourself’ all the time because I have seen my mom live by it. I never really understood it until I went through difficult times in my life. I had always treated myself as a secondary thing in my life. But the day I started treating myself as the number one priority, my life changed. I’m a happier person. People say I glow all the time, whether I put make-up or not. It just changed the way I look at life,” she reflects.
Having been in a relationship in the past where she was predominantly the giver, the actress also believes that the dynamics of a man-woman relationship ought to change. “You know, men are born a little selfish. They are not bad, they are just the way they are. Women are born givers. And the way the Indian society raises women, we’re always made to give. I believe that we have big hearts and we are giving but it is very important to understand that if we don’t respect and value ourselves, then we have nothing to give. If we don’t give to ourselves, then we actually have nothing to give to anybody else in the world. So it’s important that you should be your own priority as a woman. I’m not a feminist at all. I love men, I have a lot of male friends and fans. I have no dearth of male attention. But I openly say that it’s very important for women to treat themselves as the top priority.”
Even though the dusky beauty has been hurt in love, she is willing to give love another chance. Ask her if her past experience has left disillusioned in love and pat comes her reply, “No. Now I’m just practical in love. If I now choose love, it’s going to be a very practical situation for me. If it’s not, it’s not going to be there for me.”
So is she looking for love? Or is she currently enjoying her singlehood? “Well, I’m single till I’m married. The day I get married, I’ll say, ‘Ok, I am not single anymore’. Till that day, I don’t know. I might even be the runaway bride. That kind of situation might happen, I don’t know. Of course, that won’t be fun for my parents and the guy. But it could be my situation,” she jokes.
As an afterthought, she adds on a serious note, “Basically, I’m the committed sort but I’m not feeling commitment right now. When love comes my way, it’s just going to happen. You don’t really plan these things. Love is something you can’t manipulate. It can happen with anybody at any moment at any place. So when I say I have to be practical about it, I better be practical. I am now in my 30s. I’m not a teenager anymore. But love hasn’t happened yet. There are very few good men. There are enough good men to be friends with, to hang out with or to work with. But when it comes to spending the rest of your life with, there are only a handful.”
And unlike other girls, Bipasha knows exactly what she is looking for in her Mr. Right. “He has to be very cool and very confident. He doesn’t necessarily have to be fit, I’ll make him fit,” she grins. Taking a pause, she says, “My ideal man would be someone who is confident in his space because men show that they are confident. But I really haven’t found someone who is confident enough to have a confident woman in his life, who is okay to sometimes take a step back. Men always want to keep their woman behind. I don’t want that. I want a man who will be proud to have me in his life. Someone who will take a step back once in a while, be proud of what I do and proud of the woman that I am rather than try to make me into a different person. That kind of a confident man is rare.”
Taking a breather, she adds, “Of course, the basic good looks will help. And he should definitely be more successful than me because I do not want to be in an imbalanced relationship anymore where my man is beginning and I’m somebody already. I need a man who is as successful as me, if not more. It’s not just about the money, it’s about where he has reached in his head. That gives the person confidence and that balances the man-woman relationship.”
It’s obvious that sweeping Bipasha off her feet is no easy task. However, one can’t help but ask her if she has found her Mr Right. Because if media reports are to be believed, she has supposedly found close friends in Rana Daggubati and Shahid Kapoor. Mention these names to her and she shrugs, “As long as the media links me up with men who are cute and single, I’m fine. I’m a young girl and more importantly, I’m a girl who is very friendly. So you’re going to see me with these so called names that you mentioned. People are more than welcome to say what they want to say. When I have something substantial to speak, I’ll speak.”
And what does she have to say about her newfound friendship with Salman Khan? Considering she studiously avoided him earlier, their sudden bonding has taken everyone by surprise. “He’s not my new friend, he has been an old friend. Anyone who says that I’m being friendly with Salman to get work, has to realise what kind of person I am. I’ve never been friends with anyone for work. And if I would’ve been, I would’ve been working with all of them for a long time,” she says matter-of-factly.
Justifying further, she says, “I’m friends with people who are driven by heart. And Salman is definitely all heart. I didn’t interact with him before to know that but he’s a great guy. So it’s about friendship. There’s nothing more to it, nothing less to it. I’ve never been friends with anyone for work, I’m not that kind of a person. I really put friendship up there. It’s one of those relationships where there is no give and take.
So if I call somebody a friend, I really mean it. I never use friendship for work, I don’t need to. I have got everything without the Khans uptil now. If God wants me to work with the Khans, I will. But I won’t use friendship for it. Never ever.”
Clearly, this girl makes her own rules and doesn’t compromise. And that’s what makes her the rare breed of strong and mature woman that she is.