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Interview Hindi

Actresses are taking a stance, causing a change: Ileana D'Cruz on Baadshaho, Raid, and the film industry

A week before the release of Raj Kumar Gupta's Raid, Ileana D'Cruz sat down to talk about the joy of playing the 'bad girl', and the spunky, well-written character of Malini that drew her to the Ajay Devgn starrer. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

After Baadshaho, Ileana D'Cruz returns to the screen alongside Ajay Devgn again in Raj Kumar Gupta's Raid. While the film revolves around the longest income tax raid conducted by an honest officer (played by Devgn) D'Cruz admits that it was the 'spunky' nature of her character that drew her to the film.

Speaking to the media, the actress said, "She is not inappropriate, but she is cheeky."

The description fits in with D'Cruz's own career, where she has kept a balance between commercial films like Baadshaho (2017) and Mubarakan (2017) while also picking up projects like Barfi! (2012). However, the actress does seem to have a liking for playing the 'bad girl'.

In a lighter vein during the interview, she said, "So much fun playing the bad girl. It is so nice when you are playing something unexpected, a character who is manipulative."

Raid will be released in theatres on 16 March and the actress seems relaxed and at home in an industry that is often not the friendliest place for women. However, the D'Cruz believes change is on the way.

"Actresses are taking a stance, and that, in turn, is causing a change in the industry. It will take some time," she said.

We are a corrupt society, so we show corruption in films: Ajay Devgn on Raid

Following are excerpts from the interview.

What do you think of IT raids? 

I don't like IT raids, which is why I don't handle my tax and issues. 

Do you understand the paperwork? 

Not at all, which is why I have an accountant. 

I have always been on the other side of IT raids and all that. I like the fact that this is the first time I got perspective on what an income tax officer goes through. It is really nice that there are people they target who deserve to be targeted. 

I think the person we've written the film about is something else, man. What you are going to see in the film is something that actually did happen. It has not been put in for dramatization. It is shocking when you see it up front. 

What sort of prep did you have to go through? 

I actually have never done any prep for any of the films. The only people I did meet was my writer and the director. Initially, I think there was the possibility of meeting the officer's wife. I think they have loosely based it on his wife, but I am not sure how much of my role is that. 

She is definitely a very spunky woman. Ajay [Devgn] was the one who told me about it when we were promoting Baadshaho (2017). He pulled me aside, and said, 'Listen there is this film, and it is really interesting. It has a role in it, and its a really good role. It's a good film'. 

I didn't expect he had such a good story, for one.

Now, no matter what films are coming out, no matter which stars are part of it if your content isn't great, your film is definitely not going to work. 

What really surprised me was how spunky Malini [her character in Raid] is. She is really not one of those 1980s 'Sati Savitri' [domestic] types. She is his equal, and I think that's really something. 

I like the fact that there is a realism to the way she speaks to her husband. I think Malini was a fun character to play.

When you are working for a film based on a real person, do you have to think differently? 

True. You do. But thankfully, I haven't really played a character based on an actual person. Except for maybe where some films were based on certain people. But I haven't done an out-and-out biopic of any sort. 

Right now, I have the leeway of relying on my writer and what he has written for me. I like to put my mind to it. Everyone has a different perception of playing a role. I try not to overthink it. I try not to do research and take someone else's perspective on it. 

Did you enjoy playing that negative streak in Baadshaho? 

Oh yeah (grins). Very much. So much fun playing the bad girl. It is so nice when you are playing something unexpected, a character who is manipulative. I cried a lot when I finished the film, which sounds really wrong. I liked playing a bad girl so much. 

Ileana D'Cruz in Baadshaho (2017)

You mentioned you haven't got a chance to play in any of the biopics, who would you like to play and why? 

Gosh, I have no idea. I think its a very tricky space to be in to try and portray somebody. The last thing I want to do is mention someone's name, and that person to be like, 'My God! That's the last person I want to portray me!' 

I did get an offer a while back about a biopic of this amazing woman. I have no idea what's going on with the film right now. Right now, I can't think of a person. 

Would you like to play another negative character? 

Well, as long as it is written well. In Baadshaho, it was written well. Thankfully, times have changed. Your negative women do not always wear a red lipstick, red nailpolish, smoke a cigarette. It needs to be well-written. Someone more intellectually bad as opposed to visually bad, someone who is so dark, twisted in her head.

You talked about Malini's character being spunky and fearless. Was it an incentive to accept the role? 

Definitely. Its a great film, and a great role. But the fact that she was written so definitely was a push for me to do it. I wouldn't want to do a role that anyone would do. 

I wanted a balance to be maintained with someone like Malini because she is not inappropriate, but she is cheeky. It is quite interesting. 

What changes do you, as a woman, want to see in society? 

Lots of changes. I want to see the mindset changing. I want to see people thinking that it is not okay to rag women, harass women, and exploit them. I want to see more consideration and sensitivity in people, which I don't.

Whether it is women or sexual preferences, there is no respect. 

You haven't been part of a South Indian film for a while now. Have you any plans of returning to the industry? Or is the focus just on Hindi cinema? 

I would love to, but it has to be a really good script. I heard some scripts a couple of months ago. But it just didn't work. The story was nothing I would want to do. I really don't want to go back and do something for the sake of it. 

Who is the best co-star you've worked with the south Indian industry? 

Ravi Teja. The best co-star ever. He is super fun, and one of the nicest people I know. He is one of those people who will call me once in a while. He was the one who said, 'Alag mitti se bani ho tum' (you are different).

There is a lot changing in the industry, with talks of eliminating pay disparity, and wrongful portrayals? What do you make of it? 

I just feel that it also depends on women in general. If you start saying 'No' to certain roles, you are inevitably causing a change. You are refusing to do stuff like that. 

People talk about objectification. If more women come up and say no, filmmakers will not really have much of a choice. 

Actresses are taking a stance, and that, in turn, is causing a change in the industry. It will take some time. Imagine if all the actresses came together and said, 'We are not working anymore, unless you pay us the same'. That would really make a difference. 

Would you rather be a part of a commercial film or a niche film along the lines of Barfi! (2012)?

As selfish as it sounds, what matters a lot to me is if the role is going to be different, is it going to be challenging. It is not easy to come across films like Barfi! If I am lucky, hopefully, I will get another offer like that. 

I did love doing a Mubarakan (2017). It was a mad film. I like a mix of both. The most satisfying films are ones like Baadshaho (2017). God! It was so much fun thinking about how I was going to play this manipulative woman.