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The Bangla Bombshell

"The sex symbol tag is my brand equity." says actor Bipasha Basu in an interview in SREEDHAR PILLAI


WHAT WAS hot and happening in Chennai? If you were on the sets of Prasad Studio recently, there could be only one answer: Bipasha Basu. The Bengali bombshell wrapped up a folksy "fantasy erotic song" for the film "Sachin", accompanied by hero Vijay and a dozen dancers flown in from Mumbai. Dressed in a blue skirt with magenta brocade and a frilly matching choli, Bipasha breezes through the peppy number choreographed by Ahmed Khan with ease. There is a thump in her bump and an edge to her grind.

Bipasha has evidently lost a few kilos over the last two months. She looks cheerful and full of energy. She says it was a great experience to do a Tamil film and adds her co-star Vijay, producer Thanu and director John are thorough professionals. They had given her an English translation of the script before signing her for the film.

Bonny to family members and Bips to friends, Bipasha loves to talk about her career and love life candidly and endlessly. She has no qualms about being called the sex symbol of Bollywood. She says: "What's wrong in being a sex symbol? I think the audience like me as I have the personality that's required to be a sex symbol." It was her first three releases "Raaz", "Ajnabee" and "Jism" that established her as a sex siren, though her characters had negative shades. Her moment of glory came when Britain's Channel Four listed "Jism" shots featuring her among the sexiest 100 scenes in world cinema!

However last year, Bips faced stiff competition from a bevy of wannabe item girls such as Mallika Sherawat, Priyanka Chopra and Neha Dhupia.

Added to that, her films such as "Aitraaz", "Rudraksh" and "Rakht" had flopped. Says Bipasha: "Competition is there in all fields but I believe that it is talent that counts at the end of the day. I am getting all plum roles and trust me, Bipasha is a brand!" Bipasha says it was her boyfriend John Abraham who motivated her to shed weight and now "it feels great when he says I look ravishing." Bipasha also says she has taken her career seriously and plans to do good films and carefully choose scripts that come her way.

She says in Prakash Jha's "Apaharan", a film set against the backdrop of the kidnapping incidents in Bihar, she is paired opposite Ajay Devgan. She plays Megha, a bar dancer. In "Phir Hera Pheri", she is doing her first comedy role in the company of Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal. Then there is John Mathew Mathan of "Sarfarosh" fame who is doing a dark thriller in which she is paired with Shahid Kapoor.

Meaningful roles


Recently Bipasha created a stir when producer Yash Chopra signed her to do "Dhoom-2", a sequel to last year's big hit "Dhoom", to be directed by Sanjay Gadhvi. This film will have Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. Bipasha's summer releases are "No Entry" with Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan, and "Barsaat" with Bobby Deol and Priyanka Chopra. Adds Bipasha: "I have meaningful roles in these films. I had to turn down a few films which did not satisfy me as an actress in terms of subject and money."

When asked why she said "No" to Kamal Haasan's "Mumbai Express", that was first offered to her, she is quick to reply: "He is a wonderful actor. But I had to play the role of a mother of a 10-year-old boy. I was not sure whether the audience will accept me in such a role."

On why she accepted "Sachin", she chuckles: "It is a beautiful role. I play cupid in the film and bring Vijay and Genelia, the lead pair, together. When you see the film, you will know why I accepted it."

Grapevine has it that the dusky beauty was paid a whopping amount to do the film. Says Bipasha: "Of course money is very important and I need a lot of it to live in a difficult city like Mumbai and maintain my lifestyle."

On media reports that she has been refusing a lot of art house films, Bipasha shoots back: "I am not here for awards. I will not compromise on my salary, why should I work for charity?"

Bipasha says though she has been flooded with offers from the South where money is bigger than in Bollywood, her heart is in Hindi films. She finds Vijay to be quiet, cool and dignified. Adds Bipasha with a smile: "When we were in Ooty I was surprised by the way people got excited seeing him and the worst part was no one recognised me. They say he is a phenomenon."

Bipasha is in a league of her own and concludes: "I take it as a compliment when people label me a sex symbol. After all it is my brand equity. I guess I am here to stay for long as an actress and make the most of what I am getting."

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