Tena Desae: Rajeev Khandelwal is incredibly intense!

What is the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel actor up to these days? Well, she told us all when we spoke to her recently…. 

Tena Desae started her career with Yeh Faasley, which was an absolute dud at the box office. But she claims that if she hadn’t been a part of that film, her Bollywood career wouldn’t have had taken off the way it has now. Ms Desae hates kissing onscreen, she relies on her instincts when it comes to giving her nod to films and she had a cool time with Saif while doing a teeny-weeny scene with him in Cocktail. Read the confab to know more about this interesting chick…

Tell us something about your role in Table no.21…

It’s a thriller with three central characters – me, Rajeev Khandelwal and Paresh Rawal. There’s a game which the three of us are playing in the film. And because it’s a thriller and an interesting game, I can’t reveal anything beyond this, ‘coz I am afraid I would be giving away the entire story.

What was it like working with Rajeev Khandelwal? Industry insiders say he gets very intense…. 

That is very true. He is incredibly intense. In fact, I have watched him closely for an entire schedule and I think he’s effortlessly intense. Here I am, thinking myself into a situation and psyching up while doing a scene and spending hours in silence trying to work up the passion within me. And he is sitting around reading a book and doing his thing. Honestly, it helps, especially if you are doing a serious scene and you have a co-actor who’s so intense, it really helps in your performance.

Being a senior, did he dole out any pearls of wisdom?

He lets you be. He doesn’t exactly interfere in what you are doing and how you are doing it, which is quite nice in a way. Sometimes I would go up to him ask about certain scenes, but he would just tell me how he would have handled the same thing if he were in my place. He would never tell you how to do it.  I guess he understands that every actor has a different way of preparing.

Some people are calling Table no.21 your debut. Isn’t it disappointing, considering you have already done a couple of films before?

Maybe that’s ‘coz it’s my first full-on commercial film.

Have you ever felt your performances are going unnoticed?

Ya, obviously! There are people who don’t know about Yeh Faasley and Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande. But you know what, personally I don’t get affected, ‘coz I am quite selfish. I know that I bagged Marigold only ‘coz of Yeh Faasley. With the sort of training I had in that film, I don’t think I would have had the same confidence in front of John Madden (director of Best Exotic…).So I don’t care that my performances went unnoticed.

Are offers pouring in after Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?

Touchwood, yes, but unfortunately as of now I have only chosen to do Table no.21. I am in a good situation right now. I am in a position to hold out…

How challenging is it to get noticed in Bollywood?

I have been in films for a li’l over two years now. Two small films, a Hollywood film and Table no.21 with Rajeev Khandelwal is, I think, a pretty good number. Maybe I am a li’l easy on myself, but I am quite content that way.

How did the special appearance in Cocktail happen?

Three people recommended me. And coincidentally, I was also in London when they were shooting for the film.

So you got along with Saif?

Oh ya! In fact, he ragged me quite a bit. I was in a whacked mood that day, so he thought I was quite insane as a person.

There are a lot of comparisons being drawn with Freida Pinto just ‘coz you both did a Hollywood film. Don’t these comparisons irritate you?

I think everyone means it in a good way. I take it as a compliment, ‘coz Freida has a brilliant set of films. And if people think that I show promise to have a similar line-up, I am more than thrilled.

How comfortable are you doing kissing scenes?  

I absolutely hate it! It’s very traumatic. For me it’s not easy and best avoided. But when it’s in the script, you can’t do much about it. In Marigold I completely freaked out on the day of the shoot. I was hyperventilating, but then my writer came up to me and completely distracted me. And before I knew it, I was shooting the scene already. Also Dev Patel was incredibly chilled; he downplayed everything to such an extent that I didn’t freak out at all.