In her career spanning over 18 years, Lara Dutta has worked with Akshay Kumar in nearly 13 films and with that, she has also figured out all of his mischievous activities. She is reuniting with Akshay in their upcoming film Bell Bottom which will release in theatres on August 19. We all know Akshay being a prankster on film sets and so does Lara. So when initially Lara got a call from Akshay offering her the role of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Bell Bottom, she thought that the Khiladi actor was actually pranking her on the phone call.
"'Maine Akshay ke sath 13 films kar li hai, jisme maine uske sare pranks dekh liye hai. So when he called to offered me this film, I actually thought that he was pranking me, 'Ke Lara tu Indira Gandhi ban jaa.' And I was like, 'Haiinn? Ye kya hua. Lol.'" Lara told Bollywood Life.
She continued, "But you know, Akshay is an ultimate professional. His discipline is beyond anybody else's kind of behaviour. And Akshay for me is beyond just being my hero or costar. I consider Akshay as my family. We have done 13 films together and we don't need to tell anyone what is to be done. The reactions come instinctively to us. So there's a camaraderie between us that makes it very very easy, there's no effort to be made. Over the years, of course, Akshay also has grown tremendously as an artist, from Andaz till now. He also has reinvented himself in so many ways by doing some brilliant roles right now. He always brings this positive attitude on screen that it doesn't feel like we are doing some work, it feels like we are on a picnic."
But playing the late prime minister wasn't easy. It took Lara three hours to get transformed by make-up artist Vikram Gaikwad each time she would shoot for a scene in character as Indira Gandhi and another hour to get out of it and becoming Lara Dutta again. Apart from the look, Lara paid extra attention to Indira Gandhi's body language.
"I tracked down a lot of footages, interviews, archived videos, study her body language and understood how we want to portray her given the hijack situation Bell Bottom has. After that, it was also like to get into the head of Mrs Gandhi to understand what was the situation at that point of time when the event occured in 1984 and how she would react. So not just body language, it was also important to mentally understand her state of mind. So that's how the performance was constructed upon," she said.
Lara admitted that there was pressure and nervousness right up until the time she stepped on the set. "The reaction of the people on the set was so shocking that I started thinking why are they behaving in such a way. But when the moment I stepped out of the role, I realised how powerful her presence was then, the kind of people were around her and strong persona that she had. And just being looking like her would change so many people's perception towards me. And that's when we realised that this is something that's working. And once roll, camera and action happens, you forget everything else," she added.
Talking about the criticism she might face for her portrayal of Mrs Gandhi, Lara concluded, "I am not the first actor to portray Mrs Gandhi on screen. I definitely won't be the last actor to do that. I understand that it is impossible to keep everybody happy all the time. It is impossible that 100 per cent of people will look at it and say 'Oh this is great, so accurate.' So I know that. But my job as an actor is the responsibility to portray her to the best of my ability."
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