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The Rediff Interview / Amrita Arora
'Homosexuals are not from another planet'
Rashmi Ail | June 10, 2004
She put on her sexy shoes in her Zameen item number, Delhi ki sardi. It may not have done much for her career, but it certainly made Amrita Arora more aware of her steamy avatar.
Now, the actress is part of a film with a controversial subject. Karan Razdan's Girlfriend has shades of lesbianism. Also starring Isha Koppikar and Aashish Chowdhary, the film releases on Friday, June 11.
Amrita tells Rashmi Ail what went on behind the scenes.
How didGirlfriend happen?
I got a call from [producer] Harry Baweja's office and was asked to drop in for a narration. Karan Razdan narrated the script to me. I liked it so much that within the next few days I signed on for it. There was no screen test. I have passed that stage in my career.
Were you sceptical about doing the film?
I was sceptical in the beginning. But my fears bit the dust when we began shooting. Karan made Hawas with newcomers and people made it out to be a sleazy film. But Girlfriend cannot be compared with Hawas. With a topnotch producer like Harry at the helm, the film is in a different league. Girlfriend has actors who are in the news, so that adds to the flavour. Most of all Karan is very passionate about the film. It is so close to his heart that my fears and doubts were put to rest. We did not make this film to titillate audiences.
Do you think India is ready for a film on lesbians?
Yes. With the satellite television boom, people are more exposed to what is happening in the world. People are becoming progressive. Lesbians and homosexuals do exist in our society.
The film revolves around characters that are true-to-life and not those who live a fairytale existence. The audience has come of age and the time is just right for a film like Girlfriend.
If you go to London, for example, you will see people of the same sex in pubs holding hands and sharing their love. No one points fingers at them. It is accepted. No one goes, "Oh my God, look at that!"
Homosexuals and lesbians are not from another planet or era. They are human beings like you and me, and should be treated with dignity and grace.
Yes, homosexuality is coming out in the open, but the same does not apply to lesbians. Do you think it is because we live in a male-dominated society?
Yes. It will take a long while before women take over the reins of society. But people are coming of age, especially in Mumbai. There are pubs which have gay and lesbian nights. It is a sure sign of changing times.
The more people come out in the open, the better. Homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. The more closeted things are, the more things are swept under the carpet and the heavier society will come down on them.
Savvy [a magazine] had come out with this story about a lesbian couple who have braved all odds, are open about their relationship, and are now living a happy life. Everyone has a right to his or her sexual preference.
Hindi mainstream cinema has often ridiculed homosexuality. Does your film have a message?
Yes, definitely. Hopefully this film will educate a few [people]. It has thrown light on the psychological trauma that homosexuals go through. Often, children abused by their fathers, brothers, or uncles take to homosexuality. Isha plays a lesbian in the film. We have traced her life right from childhood. The roots are to be found in the character's childhood and you realise why she is the way she is.
You have always had a cute, bubbly, girl-next-door image. Are you apprehensive that this film will change all that?
The image of a sweet, bubbly girl is synonymous with Amrita Arora. That does not change with this film either. My character in this film is straight. Isha's character is a lesbian and I happen to be the object of her love and affection.
Circumstances bring Rahul [played by Aashish Chowdhary] into my life. I am floored by this man and that's when the character played by Isha realises that there is a man in my life. I am confused and torn between the love for my best friend and my man.
Though I get offers to play Miss Goody Two-Shoes all the time, the actor in me craves to experiment. As of now, I have a variety of roles in my kitty. I need to portray different characters to satisfy my creative instincts.
When two heroines work together, there is always scope for jealousy...
I got along very well with Isha. She's a very good actor and has put her heart and soul in this film. Karan treated us very well and gave us no reason to be insecure. We got very good lines and nearly the same footage. If Aashish got 18 scenes, I got 20 and Isha got 22. Each of the characters is well-etched. The characters cannot do without the other.
Fighting for footage, scenes, and the like is very petty. It was time for great female bonding on the sets. Aashish did feel left out sometimes, but it is time for female power to be displayed. Venus is next door! Need I say more?
What is the kind of response you are getting from people who have watched the previews?
The people who matter to me the most — my mom, father, [sister] Malaika and [brother-in-law] Arbaaz — have loved the film. Even Malaika, who is usually very critical of my work, enjoyed the film. Upen [Patel, Amrita's boyfriend] liked the film too. He is proud of me.
This film is going to be the unexpected surprise of the season. This is one film I'll always be proud of.
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