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When love beckons

Ruslan Mumtaz and Hazel, the lead actors of “Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar”, share their views about their debut venture with RANA SIDDIQUI

FIRST STEP Debutants Ruslan Mumtaz and Hazel wait for glad tidings with “Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar”

Twenty-four-year old Ruslan Mumtaz was very happy with his physique of an athlete and the body language of a theatre actor. He sported long hair and casual apparel. With this look, all confident, when he entered director Robby Grewal’s auditio n unit for Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar (MP3), he says he “felt like running away”.

But why? “I was already into acting. I had been doing theatre and advertisements (for Kit Kat, Bajaj Chetak). I didn’t want to stand in a queue of newcomers. But my mother coaxed me into it. Robby gave me two scenes. After he okayed me, he asked me to cut my hair, lose weight to look ‘nineteenish’ and ‘schoolish’. It put me in a dilemma because I looked my age and had great health. I was also working in Shaimak Davar’s dance troupe. Robby said I would have to leave all that if I join his films. I agreed as I was struggling to be in films only,” says Ruslan Mumtaz, the lead actor of MP3, releasing this Friday. Ruslan has got his name from legendary Russian opera duo, Ruslan and Lyudm ila. He is the son of character artiste Anjana Mumtaz.

Some lessons

Ruslan says he had to unlearn what was taught in his theatre class to act in his debut movie. “My first two days were very tough on the sets. I was very loud in my scenes because of my theatre background. Robby told me, ‘Don’t laugh, just smile. Don’t shout, just whisper. Let yourself be you. Don’t overdo’. I realised that theatre and films are so different. Theatre only helps you with diction and concentration.”

All set to enter the silver screen from this Friday onwards, Ruslan has just signed his second movie on a lead role. It is Satish Kaushik’s Tere Sang.

Meanwhile, Hazel Crowney, who appears opposite Ruslan in Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar, might be called Farah Khan’s find. We first saw her with Saif Ali Khan in the Tomato Tango Lays chips advertisement Khan directed a year ago. She was also seen in HSBC, Nokia and other ads. The 23-year-old Hazel was chosen among 900 girls auditioned by director Robby Grewal.

Hazel, whose father is British and mother Indian, says she had completed her college course in fashion designing and was making costumes for stage shows when she decided to audition for Grewal’s film.

“Ruslan knew me for some time when Robby declared audition tests. He called me and said that I should give it a try. At that time, my Hindi wasn’t all that good. But that proved to be a blessing in disguise because Ayesha, my character, lives in Paris but she comes to Delhi to start a new life. There she meets Rohan (Ruslan),” she says.

Some Indian ways

Hazel did quite a bit of homework before joining Hindi films.

“I have been living in India for two-and-a-half years. I have been learning Hindi and dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Salsa to be a part of Hindi films.”

Now it’s for the audience to see whether they think she would make a better costume designer or an actor.

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