Looking back at Lara Dutta’s advice for new Bollywoodcomers in the face of Priyanka Chopra
Lara was chosen by her mother because she admired the lead actress in the film Dr. Zhivago. She was genuine in a field known for its deceit. There will be no feigned warmth or pandering to the film’s creators or stars. Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta began their careers together without any give or take at Suneel Darshan’s Andaaz. Many predicted that Lara would emerge as the more popular of the two. She gave strong performances in films like Dilli Chalo, Billu, and David after landing the better role in Andaaz. However, she was never able to really break out in her chosen field.
Priyanka’s early career rivals were Sridevi, Jaya Prada, Hema Malini, and Leena Chandavarkar, among others. Unfortunately, Lara had to play Jaya Prada to Priyanka’s Prada.
In a previous interview, Lara had mentioned the parallels. Even though I had previous modelling experience, we competed on an equal playing field in the Miss India competition. We competed and triumphed together, even claiming world titles in the same calendar year. A more ideal co-star it would have been impossible to find. The producers of Andaaz hoped to profit from the pairing of Priyanka Chopra and me because we had recently won the titles of Miss Universe and Miss World, respectively. We were both accustomed to the spotlight and familiar with our bodies because we had worked in an unconventional area like modelling. Neither our attire nor our actions were impromptu. We weren’t forced to make any concessions. I can only speak for myself when I say that I felt completely at ease in anything I wore during my time in Andaaz. I dressed as a typical college girl would today.
Did Lara consider Priyanka to be an adversary? Lara’s response was forthright but hesitant. We couldn’t be more different as actresses. Her goals are different. I hope to establish myself as an actress so that one day a director would feel comfortable casting me in a role akin to Nargis’ in Mother India. My goal is to avoid exhaustion at all costs. I’d like not appear in every other movie. I’d hate for people to see this and think, “Oh no, she’s in this one too.”
There had to be a way to gain a competitive edge, right? It’s true! But that actually boosted both of our abilities. And I’d much prefer go head to head with Priyanka, whose career has progressed in tandem with mine. Also, she has a lot of skill. When one of us messed up a shot, the other would give me advice like two seasoned actresses,” Lara said.
Lara has always wanted to be an actress. Bollywoodcomers Since I was 13 years old, I have been performing on stage. Even though I planned to keep doing theatre, the idea that I would ever work in film never crossed my mind. To be totally honest, the year following a crowning like Miss Universe throws your entire life upside down. Moving here from Bangalore opened up a lot of doors for me, and one of them was in the film industry. Again, I’ll admit that I went in blind to the Indian film industry. I have doubts due to what I have heard. She had said, “But it was also an opportunity to move forward in life.”
It was tough to break into Bollywood. It took me a year and a half after resigning as champion to negotiate a movie deal. While I was Miss Universe, I made a concerted effort to keep certain details of my life private. The film industry calls for an abandonment of all inhibitions, a breaking down of all barriers. It was a while before I could tolerate the relentless brightness. Do you know? Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I enjoy it all the more. I hadn’t done much of my homework when I first arrived. Only Subhash Ghai and Yash Chopra were familiar to me. When I agreed to star in Andaaz, I did it on sheer impulse. Recently, I’ve come into my own as an actor. And I enjoy the method immensely. I just moved here, so please excuse my ignorance. At first, a lot of details didn’t seem to go together. Some things really bother me. Given that I am powerless to alter my field, I have had to find ways to thrive within it. Things began to fall into place as I became more involved in the filmmaking process as a whole.
Lara was underutilised in parts that would have done justice to her natural charm. Chalo Dilli (2011) is one example of such a movie. There’s a lot of passion and feeling in Chalo Dilli. The story follows two mismatched tourists as they make their way from Mumbai to Delhi, stopping through Jaipur and other obscure locations in Rajasthan along the way.
Actress Lara, frustrated by the lack of interesting jobs, penned a script for herself in 2008. She felt that Bollywood scriptwriters weren’t composing complex roles for women. The hero is always the centre of attention while the heroine is relegated to the role of love interest. The movies made for female audiences were weak attempts to make a feminist statement. Surprisingly, Lara hasn’t penned any films with a female protagonist. Both male and female protagonists were given substantial screen time. No movie was ever made based on that script.
Bollywoodcomers Someone should write Lara a part where she plays a sophisticated lady in her 30s or older who finds herself in the male-dominated world of business. She’d definitely succeed at it. She would be fantastic in the role of The Intern if it were adapted to be set in India.