In the spotlight
HER'S is a face that has launched innumerable products. Born of a Polish father and a Bengali mother, Lisa Ray was discovered at the age of 16 by Maureen Wadia of Gladrags magazine. The Bombay Dyeing advertisement which presented Lisa in nothing more than a towel, took the modelling business by storm, making Lisa a much sought-after supermodel.
After almost a decade in modelling, Lisa made a debut in Hindi films with Vikram Bhatt's Kasoor, where she played a gutsy lawyer. Now, playing a fiercely independent and spirited escort in Deepa Mehta's Bollywood Hollywood, Lisa says she's hungry for more such roles.
Was it easy for you to identify with the role of the Indo-Canadian girl in Bollywood Hollywood since you have a similar background?
Yeah. I think it was a tailor-made role and that is why I told Deepa, 'You will have to cast nobody, but me.' (Bursts out laughing). Having been born and brought up in Canada, I can easily relate to the trials and tribulations Indians living there go through. What I love about the character is that she is very independent, forthright and unapologetic about who she is and what she does.
How was it working with Deepa Mehta?
Fabulous! I have always
admired Deepa as a filmmaker and have been wanting to work with her. We
share a common background. She is also from Toronto and yet proud of her
background and very Indian in her own ways. She is very much an actor's
director and is able to extract the best performance from any actor.
I was never interested in Hindi films. I have nothing against Bollywood per se. It is important that I relate to the sensibility of the material that I'm working in. And I can't very frankly relate to most of Bollywood material, particularly the portrayal of women.
What else are you working on right now?
I have just completed an English language film called The Arrangement. It's a fabulous film. This marks Asrani's international debut. He is a scream in it. The American technicians of the film fell in love with him.
How good are you at comedy?
Now, I have completed two comedies back to back—Bollywood Hollywood and The Arrangement. I have discovered that there are different ways of playing comedy. Deepa gave particular instructions on how to play it straight for the situation, saying that the comedy should come out of the situation. That's one approach. In The Arrangement, it was more slapstick.
You are supposed to be an excellent cook. What is it that you enjoy cooking the most?
It depends. I cook in phases. I am currently on a risotto trip. (Laughs) I am now based in London. It's cold out there and so, you have to take something hot.
What are your hobbies apart from cooking?
I'm passionate about movies, theatre, reading and taking walks. Almost every weekend I troop into the British Museum of Arts because it's rich.
If there's one thing you would like to change about your appearance, what would it be?
Oh God! A lot of things. I would give myself a whole revamp. I never ever liked my looks. It's only when I started modelling that other people gave me feedback and I realised that probably in photographs, due to make up and lighting, I come across in a certain way. I prefer an entirely different kind of face though!
So, what is your idea of perfect beauty?
Perfect beauty to me means someone who is really attractive. An actor doesn't have to be perfectly beautiful, because it might work to her disadvantage. Julia Roberts is one of my favourite actresses but I don't consider her great looking. Michelle Pfeiffer is probably one of those rare combinations of talent and beauty.
What has been your weirdest fan experience?
This was way back, when I was just two years into modelling. I was sitting at a restaurant with a friend. There were two guys at the next table. One of them looked me up and down and told his friend, 'Check her out. She is not bad.' The friend turned over, looked at me and said, 'She's okay, but nothing like that Lisa Ray.'
— Leisure Media News