Actress Bipasha Basu, who will be seen in her latest web series ‘Dangerous’ after a gap of five years, talks to Outlook’s Lachmi Deb Roy about her comeback and her life in lockdown. She also expresses her views about the ‘Insider Vs Outsider’ divide in Bollywood. Excerpts:
How is this lockdown treating you?
This time is interesting. It is a time of human awakening and I am making the best use of it to become a better version of myself. Something that I have started during this period is optimum self-care like caring for myself in every possible way. Not just working out, that I always used to. I have started waking up early and I work out and cook and my husband has become vegetarian for the last four months. Karan has turned vegan now, but I have gone back to having fish. I do all the gardening. I am doing a lot of reading and researching on plant care. I have also learned to cook. I didn’t know that I was a good chef and I have realised that I am a very good baker too. I have actually connected to the kitchen like never before.
Basically, the lockdown has made me connected to my house, myself and definitely with my partner much more than what it was. I have been in touch with my family on video calls and I have not met them for long, but I prefer to be careful for my parent's health. This period is an enriching experience of valuing things, of learning to re-using and recycling everything and trying to create as less waste around us. I am doing everything with a conscious decision -- whether it is saving electricity, saving water, growing your own kitchen garden. There have been billions of small changes and the best thing is every human being has been doing their own little bit for the betterment of the world around them. I am just hopeful that this pandemic teaches everyone to evolve a little bit and I have believed that this stage won’t last forever.
Everyone is calling this phase the new normal. I believe that we need to manifest that this is a short phase that is going to go, but we need to think about what we can do to make better our living conditions, our environment, our world and our lives. This pandemic has brought a tremendous change in my partner and me and we are happy that we got this time for each other.
Tell us about your latest web series ‘Dangerous’ and your coming back to acting after a gap of five years.
I don’t really count the gap and nor do I think that there has been a gap. For me it is my life that is important and work is an aspect of my life. I have never put that stress on me that I need to work all the time. I have worked a lot in my life as I started acting at the age of nineteen. So I just wanted to stop and enjoy the life that I have created for myself. It was a conscious decision for me to slow down a bit and that is exactly what is happening to the world around us. With time I have understood what life is all about and it is not just about how much money you make, how popular you are or how successful you are in the eyes of other people; it is you who should decide what is good for you and what makes you feel happy.
Now I have reached a stage where I believe that it should be a wholesome life and I love the work that I did for ‘Dangerous’. When Karan had signed this film, there were a lot of people who wanted me to read it and I really liked the character and the content and that’s when I told Karan that I will be on for this project. But I didn’t have any intention to be part of it just because Karan was part of it. After ‘Alone’, we got so many offers together and it was my decision that we don’t need to do everything together. We will only come together when both of us like a project individually without the baggage of being a couple.
How was the comfort of working with your partner, Karan Singh Grover?
Honestly, I have been gifted with wonderful co-stars and I had great comfort level with most of my co-stars. In all these years, I have been extremely lucky that I never had to work with irritating co-stars. Karan and I got on the sets of ‘Alone’ immediately and we really enjoyed the process of doing that film and now after so many years, and he being a strong personality, he understands my needs as an actor. He knows that I like a little space when I am working. Karan is my partner and also my best friend, he understands me and, hence, he respects me and gives me the space that I need as an actor.
How did you prepare yourself for the role? ‘Dangerous’ was made into a film initially and later it was transformed into a web show, right?
Yes, ‘Dangerous’ was shot as a film, but we had a lot more content and between the producer and MX Player, they did the entire re-construction and re-editing to make it into a show format. In terms of preparation, when I heard that I have to play a detective from Scotland Yard and I had never done that before, I was really excited. I am a big fan of all the investigative series like the ‘Marcella’ and ‘The Fall’, that was also one of the main reasons that I got attracted to it. Though the role is not like any of the shows that I am mentioning, but it is a female detective. When you are a part of a thriller, nothing is simple; everything is layered and complex and I like it that way. I feel that thrillers are very engaging for audiences. I had grown my hair really long, but I chopped it all off for this particular role.
What has been your source of inspiration?
I am inspired by life and real people. I don’t look for inspiration at work, I appreciate good work done by others like an audience.
Is OTT the future of entertainment and has the pandemic fastened the process?
The pandemic is going to end as much as the fear-mongering is going on in our head that the world is going to come to an end, but this is never going to happen. We have created this situation and we will have to face it. It might take a few years, but we are going to tide over it.
But as for OTT, now the Indian audience has got a taste of it. Earlier, it was only the international audience who knew about it. Even when theatres open, people will continue to watch films and shows on OTT. People will go to theatres once it opens, but OTT is the future. OTT will co-exist or may even take over.
Your struggle as an actor, how has the journey been? Was it smooth, was it bumpy?
I always like to see the good in my journey. Anything that was remotely bad or negative is forgotten and forgiven from my end. I have moved on and I don’t like to carry any heaviness. I like to keep my life light and that is the way it has been ever since my childhood days. For me, I am the person who has made my life the way it is and I am not going to give that authority to anybody else to dictate how I am supposed to live or what I am supposed to do right from day one to now.
It’s been an amazing journey. There were times when I didn’t have money and I used to live on only bananas and corn flakes. But I did go through the struggle phase with a smile on my face. And I am thankful that I have gone through it because that day has taught me to appreciate food till now. That is the reason, I never let anyone waste food around me. And I value everyone’s ‘ghar ka khana’ because I have not got it for a long time. For me, my journey made me a better person. I feel if you are a person with a positive zest of life, you will take all the struggle and make something beautiful out of it. I have never given anyone the power to rule my life, all the power stays with me whatever my life is. It's my mistake, my success. I can pat my back and can tell myself, ‘Bipasha you have screwed up’, but it's me. I am not waiting for another person to tell me, ‘Oh Wow! Now you have made it.’ I know when I have made it. For me whenever my audiences have accepted me, I know I have made it. That is the definition of my success in my journey.
I don’t understand the whole divide. Every human being had to struggle, whether he/she is privileged or not privileged. The privileged, too, have a lot of battle to fight to prove to people that they are worthy of that privilege and yet so many of them fail and they don’t get acceptance. The ones who are accepted have the talent and no one gets accepted without talent in the long run. Outsiders might get lesser opportunities, but the best part is nobody expects anything out of you anyways. But when you are privileged, people have a lot of expectations out of you. You cannot compare your journey to anybody elses journey.