Not under pressure

Not under pressure

Ileana D’Cruz spoke to Kritika Dua about her forthcoming film, pressure on actresses to look a certain way and how to stay in touch with reality with the chaos around

Ileana D’Cruz likes to keep it slow and steady. So long as it is on her terms. “It was not an easy task to find a suitable look for Malini (Amay Patnaik’s wife) for Raid as I don’t look like someone who has stepped out of the 80s. There was no research that needed to be done on my part as when one has writers like Ritesh Shah and a director like Raj Kumar Gupta who is so sorted in his vision. He guided me through the journey. They pretty much came equipped with all the necessary material. Thus, there was no need for it as far as my character or the emotions are concerned; it was solely based on my understanding of it. Having said that, it was not an easy process and was kind of a tricky understanding as Malini is not someone with whom what one will see is what is inside her. She may be feeling something else but will show a different emotion altogether. There are a lot of layers to her.” Ileana D’Cruz calls Malini incredibly mature in how she supports her husband even in moments when she is scared but is like, “take care of yourself, I know you are gonna be fine.”

Elaborating on her interpretation of the character, she told us, “Even in times when he is unsure of the risks he is going to take, she encourages him to go ahead with it. And at times she is upset about the situation he is in but will try and find humourous points and make it lighter. There are plenty of lovely moments in that aspect. There is so much about her that hasn’t come out in trailers well but the audience will get to see that in the film. It’s a beautiful character and it’s admirable that in reality, an Income Tax Officer’s wife goes through these ups and downs and still deals with it all with dignity.”

In the trailer, we all have seen Ajay Devgan’s character declare that for India to become successful, the wives of the country’s officials need to be stronger than them. When asked about the same, she replied, “Yes, definitely! in fact much more than the Income Tax officer the wife needs to be emotionally strong. Amay as an officer is incredibly brave (Saat saal me unchaas baar transfer hua hai, jab tak mera pachaasvi baar transfer nahi ho jata is shor ki aadat dal lijiye). He sticks to what he believes in and that drives his course of actions. And for a wife to sit at home and worry so much about her husband, she needs to be have strength to show him that she is not scared and will be alright. He needs to go out there and do his job really well. In that space, Malini is much stronger than Amay.” She informed us that she has been offered an interesting biopic recently and would love to do it but it requires a little bit of time to get into place so she can’t reveal much about it.

It’s difficult for people who don’t belong to the film fraternity to get a break as not many producers are willing to invest in them. Ileana agrees, “There’s a lot of money that goes into making a film — the producer should believe in an actor to invest that kind of money and also the director should  have faith in an artist’s skills. Thus, for newcomers it’s tricky as they haven’t proved themselves and getting a good opportunity is the most difficult part.” She selects scripts on the basis of content and looks at the film in totality, if it’s a kind of film which people will like watching and at times if the role is layered and worth exploring. “In the case of Raid, the story was so fantastic and I was amazed that it was actually based on an actual person. My character doesn’t have a large amount of screentime but she is still memorable and a brave woman. It was such a nuanced role which challenged me and proved to be a different experience.”

Ileana expressed how she finds Ajay Devgan as a co-star: “The experience was great, he is one of the easiest people to work with. There are no hang-ups about him or tension when it comes to working with him. He doesn’t make work feel like work.”

Asked if there is more pressure on actresses to look a certain way and present themselves in a particular manner, even being diplomatic at times, Ileana said, “Definitely, people always expect one to be diplomatic. But I have never been diplomatic and am still around. Everyone has a different image of an actor they admire but sometimes it can get difficult for them to swallow that the image they have in mind is not the actuality of that person. It’s not easy to retain one’s individuality but I have never really stuck to any norm of a behaviour that I am meant to follow. I do speak my mind and am incredibly outspoken but I don’ t intend on offending or disrespecting anyone something which I keep in mind always. I accept the paparazzi and all the shutterbugs that follow as a part and parcel of the profession, that’s their job at the end of the day and they have been asked to do so. However, there are certain things which I don’t stand for and have met photographers who have respected my wishes — I hate being photographed at home or in vicinity as that is my private space and intrusion in that area is unfair. I have been fortunate enough that they have accepted this.” Ileana added that she does dress down on certain days and thinks that she is probably the only actress who has been clicked in every possible scenario. “I have been clicked while buying vegetables too.”

Among all the chaos that follows an actor’s life on a daily basis, it seems easy to lost in the limelight. Thus, it becomes necessary to stay grounded and in touch with reality. “Most often people get engulfed by this industry and it becomes their life. For me, I look at my work as a job. On set, I am there with undivided focus but the minute I am off set, I switch off and that is my private time. I don’t take my work home.”

The actress, who was last seen on silver screen in Baadshaho, can’t scream for a film. She has interesting offers in her kitty including three women-centric projects and in her own words “it’s scary at the same time as it’s an uncharted territory for me and requires a lot of belief in myself. I haven’t decided which ones I will finally sign.”

On trolling and body shaming, the 30-year-old actress said, “It’s terrible! The negative comments made on my appearance bothered me a lot initially, other people’s opinion affected me. Along the way, I realised that I have my own body issues and was trying hard to sort of fit into everyone else’s perception of me and what size I should be. My weight fluctuated so much due to that. Now, I just feel that I wanna work on myself and make myself happy. Body shaming is upsetting and as I have dealt with it so much, I have grown a thick skin or gotten immune to it. I have accepted that I can’t please everyone, there will be some people who will call me fat irrespective of how skinny I am and some who will find me not big enough.”

She also spoke about the #metoo movement and Hollywood actresses opening about sexual harassment. “Any kind of exploitation is a complete no-no which I am definitely not in support of. As far as the #metoo movement is concerned, hashtags become a trend for a while and then they die down. I don’t see a sense in actually having something that trends for a bit but doesn’t make that much of a difference. However, it’s also true that talking about #metoo will get a lot more people to talk about this issue which is a good thing but some sort of change should come from it otherwise there is no sense in having just another hashtag.”

Ileana added that just because many women didn’t speak up doesn’t mean they are cowards. “It is their choice as in when they want to speak about it. A lot of women have faced some sort of exploitation at some point in their lives. They have doubts like, ‘If I speak about it, will people believe me?’ The people who matter to them will but the masses might not. To get justice or an action on a complaint is hard and requires a lot more support from other women facing the same sort of issues. Maybe it requires people to come forward in a different way saying ‘no matter what happens we will support you’.”  



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