DEVANSH PATEL meets the lustrous lady who makes you forget your marriage and mannerisms, Barbara Mori
IAM waiting for Barbara Mori in the lounge of the newly built, serviced apartment somewhere in the Juhu Versova area of Mumbai. It is velvety and dark. And I suddenly see the publicists for Kites, her latest film, running up and down to try to fix a big problem - the air conditioning in the apartment is not working because of some technical problems.
There is something about Mori that makes me forget my manners.
Could they let Barbara know I'm ready to fan her? I am serious. I mean, how often do you get a chance like this?
Half an hour of waiting for them to fix the problem and I was escorted into her private suite. When I enter, my eyes try to search for her but find her manager instead. Within 30 seconds, the mystic beauty from Mexico arrives.
When Barbara enters the room, she takes it. It crackles with her arrival. She is alone, no entourage, no assistant and no publicist.
Walking slightly oddly, taking tiny steps with her legs a little too close together, she sinks to the velvet beside me.
I say: "You look beautiful." "Thank you so much," is her clichéd, yet different reply.
She asks her manager for a half-cup of coffee. Draped in a white summer dress, Mori is comfort personified.
There is sweetness to her embarrassment of walking into a room not speaking fluent English. But that is
Barbara. She has been doing the rounds of interviews since morning with the Indian press. And though we haven't seen Barbara Mori in full swing in Kites, we do come to know from the promos that it is the gentleness she brought to it, the round-faced, sweetheart-lipped smile, and above all the conviction that she brings to an Indian film.
Q: Is it difficult to talk to Indian journalists?
A: Not at all. I've been so confident and comfortable talking with all of them. You won't be any different, I'm sure (laughs). Yes, many of them have been writing things about my affair with Hrithik Roshan which isn't true. That was bad.
Q: Will the Indian film Kites help you in your career as an actress?
A: Of course, absolutely. First of all, Kites is an amazing love story. Bollywood is the biggest film industry in the world. So, of course it will help my career reach new heights.
Kites for me is world cinema. There was a time when nobody knew me in India. Today, I've got Twitter fans from India writing to me.
Q: Were you sure you wanted to do Kites the first time you were offered the film?
A: No. I was not sure whether I'd be a part of Kites. Nobody pushed me to do Kites. When I met Rakesh and Anurag for the first time, we spent three to four hours talking about Kites. Here was Anurag telling me the story and I was asking him: 'Do I have to dance in the film'? Anurag was like, 'Yes, a little bit'.
I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to dance in a Bollywood film. So there lay my doubt. But after hearing Kites fully, I fell in love with this beautiful love story. I almost landed up crying after Anurag Basu completed the first narration.
Q: Can anybody fall in love with Hrithik Roshan?
A: Of course, yes. He is a beautiful human being. He is sweet, a great actor and has an even bigger heart.
Any woman can fall in love with Hrithik Roshan.
Q: How many Indian films have you seen so far?
A: I haven't seen any Bollywood films except Hrithik Roshan's films. But I have seen Anurag's Life In A Metro.
Q: You remind me a lot of Penelope Cruz. Is (speaking) English necessary to reach Hollywood? Because if it was, Penelope wouldn't have existed in Los Angeles.
A: Thank you for the compliment. I liked it. Maybe English is necessary to understand more than just talking. Yes, it is important to know what the other person is saying.
Penelope has learnt to talk in English today but she isn't that fluent. I'm going in the same direction. I'm learning. Accent doesn't matter.
Penelope has done a lot of good work and her success has not come because she knows the English language.
Q: Any Hollywood plans now?
A: I'd love to work in Hollywood. I don't like Quentin Tarantino. But I'd like to work with Sean Penn and Woody Allen. I love Meryl Streep and she is the best ever actress in the world. I'd love to work with Meryl too.
Q: What about Shah Rukh Khan?
A: I haven't seen Shah Rukh's acting. But yes, I'd love to work with him some day. I met Shah Rukh Khan last week and Gauri too at his house in Mannat. I had been told that I had to meet them both because they are the best celebrity couple I'd ever meet.
Q: And if you were to choose between the two - Hrithik Roshan or Shah Rukh Khan?
A: I know Hrithik more than Shah Rukh. As people, both are really great. Both look smart and handsome.
Q: Do you think Hrithik Roshan can cross over to Hollywood?
A: He has all that a great actor needs to cross over to Hollywood. He has everything to go beyond. In fact, Kites will fly high in Hollywood.
Q: Do Mexican people watch a lot of Bollywood films? And will Kites be watched in your home town?
A: Mexican people do not watch Bollywood films. I am promoting my film in Mexico too. On May 21, Kites is not being released in Mexico. Kites is my biggest movie ever and I'd love to have a red carpet première in Mexico. Rakesh, Hrithik, Anurag and my best friend Suzanne will have to come down to Mexico if my dream comes true.
Q: Which scene in the film did you find most difficult?
A: My toughest scene from Kites would have to be the underwater sequence.
I don't like sea. I don't like being in the water for a long time. We had to shoot underwater and so I took lessons on how to breathe.
I did all the training. When I went down, I suddenly heard 'action'. I was informed that when the word 'action' is shouted, I had to start breathing. But I forgot to breathe, took off my oxygen mask and I swam really fast to come up from the underwater. I got very scared.
Q: Tell us something about Anurag Basu which nobody knows.
A: Anurag is a child. He is a mess, isn't he? But he has something in him that nobody has and he guided me so well throughout the film. He is a sweetheart.
I'd love to work with Anurag Basu again. He is always smiling and laughing and made me laugh too throughout the making. I hope I can do more Bollywood movies.