Celina Jaitly Interview – Stardust

Celina Jaitly Interview – Stardust

In an industry where looks play a vital role for anyone to be successful, we have had actors with average looks reaching the pinnacle of success. And contrary to the idiom is Celina Jaitly, who despite being gorgeous, possessing one of the best bodies and gifted acting skills haven’t yet tasted the best times. A peek into her career graph shows us the extreme highs and lows that her films have managed to achieve as far as box-office results are concerned. If this was not enough, she has also been a soft target for a few. Her vehement stance on supporting gay rights has got her acknowledgment and criticism both. However, what makes Celina stand out is her bold outlook towards life. Catch the actress at her undiplomatic best as the tape rolls to capture her unguarded in this month’s COURT MARTIAL.

It’s been seven years since you started as an actor. Some of your films did well and some didn’t. Are you happy with the way your career has shaped up?
Our industry is a place that’s very unpredictable. There is not a single actor who has had a fabulous career graph without any highs and lows. It’s all about ups and downs. It’s a career where you have to face the highs and lows at all times. But the most important thing is that I am still in the game; I am still considered good and offered work by some of the most prestigious banners today. I am absolutely happy and satisfied with the way my career is going right now.

Do you feel things would have been better for you had you been a star daughter or were romantically involved with someone from the industry? Do you feel girls with such attributes have it easier for them?
It is but obvious that they have it easier. It’s like a doctor’s child will grow up to be a doctor. That’s because he or she has grown in that environment and knows the profession much better than an outsider. Tomorrow, if my children decide to come into this industry, it wouldn’t be as difficult for them as it was for me. I will be there to promote them. Yes, star kids have it better not because they get it all on a platter. There have been star kids who didn’t do well. But yes, they have a strong monetary backing. But then that’s the fact and we have to live with it. And I believe that without being a star daughter or being involved with someone from the industry, I have done pretty well for myself.

You’ve often been acknowledged for your style quotient but the industry has never appreciated you for your work. Why is that?
Honestly speaking I haven’t really understood what people’s idea about performance in this industry is. We have actors who work in Hindi films but can’t speak Hindi; they can’t act and their voices are dubbed but because the films they are in have been successful, they are considered to be very good. I think performance quotient and success quotient are two different things in our industry. They are inversely proportional to each other. Even in the case of critics, they judge an actor by the success quotient and not by the performance quotient. For example, after my film, Accident On Hill Road released, critics had sent me text messages saying what a fantastic job I had done but they didn’t mention that in their reviews. On the other hand, when a big mega-budget film comes along, whether it’s a hit or a flop, they will mention a line about every actor having performed well irrespective of whether he or she has performed well or not. So their idea of you being a good actor depends on how many hits you’ve managed to deliver and not on your performance.

There has been a conscious effort on your part to do only multi-starrers. Do you feel safer in such projects because the entire responsibility isn’t on you?
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I feel safer in multi-starrers because the entire responsibility is not on me. In today’s times, 90 percent of the films are multi-starrers and we see even the biggest of stars working in such projects. An actor doesn’t really have much choice. The very few solo-starrers that are left are relegated to different camps and people being promoted by camps and star sons and daughters. You know, that time has gone long back when there used to be a comedian who used to do comedy and a villain who would only do all the bad things. Today, every actor wants to do everything and play every type of character possible. So it’s the era of multi-starrers that started after No Entry proved to be a blockbuster. From then till Golmaal Returns, most of my multi-starrer films have done well. So I would better do films that are doing well at the box-office rather than waiting for the kind of films that are not being made these days.

Sometime back, you took a long break from signing any films – it was almost like you were in an introspective mood. And then you came back with signing some big films like Thank You. Was that a deliberate decision?
You know, the only time I went a little slow was after my first film Janasheen because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue in this industry or not because I come from a different background and I was also in a relationship at that time. Also my straightforward and bold nature didn’t go down well with some actors and directors and that really upset me. Also at that time, I was only interested in making the best out of my personal life and wasn’t sure if I would continue acting. However, I continued because it was destined as such and also because the relationship that I was in had ended. A lot has changed in these seven years and this is the right time to be here. And believe me this line has taken me to places as an actor and as a human being too. I have grown in every aspect, thanks to my career as an actor.

Subhash Ghai (Mukta Arts) is the only one with whom you’ve worked the most. Would you consider him to be your godfather? There was a time when you were also linked to him. How do you react to such reports?
I have done three films with Mukta Arts because they always sign actors in a three-film contract. I hold Ghai saab in extremely high regard but I had only one godfather in the industry and that was Feroz Khan saab. He was my friend, confidante, philosopher and guide. He was the one I took inspiration from. I don’t think anyone can replace him in my life. He always motivated me to be a good human being and inspired me to be myself. Khan saab always used to call me lambi race ki ghodi. I miss him a lot. Talking about being linked to Mr Ghai, I would say I have been linked to everybody in this industry. So either I am a prostitute or it’s all a lie. Come on yaar, give me a break! When we actresses work with actors and directors and sometimes in many films, we are bound to become friends, aren’t we? I have also been linked to Govinda, Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas and shockingly, with Feroz Khan saab too. See, as an actor, we work with a particular team for hours, everyday for a few months. Film sets, for us, are our offices. This is where we come to work. Yes we are a little more dramatic than other people because we tend to become like that after working in such environments. But does that make us actresses hookers or prostitutes? I have learnt to ignore such things and move on.

At one time, you were also linked to Govinda. Did that spoil relations between the two of you?
See, it would depend on the other person. I don’t think it has spoilt my relationship with anybody. Chi Chi is such a veteran actor and I have grown up watching his films. I respect him as an actor. I have learnt so much from him and then to read reports linking us together is ridiculous. It also happened during the party held at my house. There were so many actors at my house that day and Chi Chi was hanging around with his group of friends and left at one in the night. The next day, there were reports stating that Govinda spent the night at my house. But as I said earlier, I now know that all this is a part and parcel of an actor’s life and we just need to ignore it.

You were an integral part of Golmaal Returns. Did you feel let down when you were not a part of Golmaal 3? It was reported that Kareena Kapoor had laid down the condition that the film would not have any other heroine. How do you feel when something like this happens?
No, it doesn’t hurt me. Why should it? If I had to be in Golmaal 3, I would only want to be as Mira Nair (her character in Golmaal Returns) in it. And her character is probably not required in Golmaal 3 so maybe she will come back in the next one; you never know. Also I think Rohit Shetty is the best person to answer this question as to why he hasn’t signed me for the third in the series. Talking about the rumour related to Kareena, I have no idea about it and again, Rohit would be the best person to answer this.

You’re one of the sexiest heroines in the industry. Yet, there is a general feeling that heroes feel intimidated by you because of your bold attitude. Does that work as a disadvantage at times?
Well, nobody has told me yet that actors get intimidated by my attitude. Maybe somebody has told you that. I don’t know if people get intimidated or get shocked after seeing the real me. They say, ‘You are such a typical Kendra Vidyalaya girl in salwar kameez.’ But then that’s how I really am. It’s just that I believe in my principles and stick to them. And if people do get intimidated by that, I can’t really do anything about it.

You’ve also never had any hero promoting you in a big way. Most heroines have benefited when actors have done that.
All I can say is that when God is your manager, you don’t need anybody else to take care of you. I know there is someone up there who is looking after me and will take me to the right place.

You were banking heavily in Run Bhola Run but the film has been stuck for a long time. Do you feel upset when films you bank upon don’t turn out the way you expect them to?
Not really. I actually bank upon every film. No Entry took two years to make and is one of the biggest blockbusters in recent times. Golmaal Returns took about one-and-a-half years to complete and again, it proved to be one of the biggest hits ever. Movies come with their own destinies. If it’s a good product then a little bit of delay cannot affect its box-office collections. I have eight films right now including a South project. I know the movie business is all about ups and downs. The most important thing is getting good work and that is happening for sure.

You’ve been India’s most vocal gay activist. Because of your association with the movement, you have been subjected to people questioning your sexuality as well. How do you react to that?
If I start reacting to such people, the whole reason behind the cause goes down the drain. Because being a straight person, I am subjected to so much of humiliation, interrogation and what not. So despite being a straight person, if I have to go through all this, I can imagine what a person from a particular community must be going through. For me it’s not about gay rights; it’s about human rights. I feel that even though India has truly progressed and the movement is going on very strongly, people have only learnt to mask their intolerance. People haven’t truly opened up to it and acceptance would take time to come. When they cannot accept someone standing up for someone else’s rights, how would they accept the person who is the victim of it? So I won’t react to such people or my entire cause would be negated.

Your last relationship lasted a while but after that, you’ve been single. Don’t you feel the need for a man in your life? Do any industry guys stand a chance?
As far as love is concerned, when it happens, everybody will know about it. I believe that love needs no reason. When it happens, it happens. I believe in the concept of soul mates. I have had love in my life and that was beautiful. When that ended, I decided that I would heal myself first and fill myself with love again. I can only be in a relationship if I have something emotional to give. It’s unfair for me to get into a relationship and dump my emotional baggage on somebody. I don’t want to be in a relationship just because I am alone or lonely, or because I want to see a man or a film star on my arm. I can very well buy myself what I want. I would only be in a relationship for one reason and that’s love and that hasn’t happened yet. I would be the first person to be vocal about it when it happens. What’s there to hide in it? It’s the most beautiful feeling. Regarding the industry, there has to be an eligible bachelor. He has to woo me and like me and I have to like him also. It cannot be a one-way relationship.

You’ve never been shy about your body. You’re quite comfortable in your own skin. Do you feel people perceive you differently because of this? Why is it that when you expose, it creates a stir. But when top actresses do it for big banner films, it’s considered acceptable?
I don’t know how people perceive me but I think my body is a manifestation of God’s creation. God has given me this body so I love it, respect it and take immense care of it. Also it’s probably because the kinds of clothes I wear on screen have become a trend in Bollywood but are still new to people’s perception. Maybe some people are not comfortable with that. But today, we see everybody losing weight and wearing a bikini. Well, even I have worn the bikini for big banner films and I think I was the one who started it with Janasheen. I always like to be the first one and let everybody else follow the trend. I believe in being an original version of myself than being a bad version of someone else.

When you were working on Accident On Hill Road, you once had a major showdown with your co-star, Abhimanyu Singh. You still haven’t forgiven him. What was it that led to this souring between you two?
Firstly, I never had a showdown with Abhimanyu. See, all artistes sit and have creative arguments. Abhimanyu is a very good actor and we used to sit and discuss our scenes most of the times. I read articles in newspapers and magazines that Abhimanyu was very upset with me and that his marriage was in jeopardy because of his link-up with me. Imagine all this happening when I only had a few scenes with him in the film. In that way, I should have been linked with Mr Farooque Shaikh because he was the one I had my majority of the scenes with. The only thing I questioned Abhimanyu was – how come his marriage was in jeopardy considering we shot for only four days together? There wasn’t a showdown as such. I won’t say he is one of my best friends because I cannot be friends with everybody. All I have to say is that I respect him as an actor.

You also took on the likes of Baba Ramdev and Shobhaa De sometime back. Looking back, what do you feel about those episodes?
I think Baba Ramdev has decided to make his life’s mission to leave yoga and get after my character. According to him, all actresses are prostitutes and he went on the front page of a newspaper and called me character-less woman. Why? It was because I was supporting the gay rights and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. He is a yoga teacher and he should remain that. Yoga teaches a yogi, a brahmachari that respect a woman because she’s a mother, whatever age she may be. So if a brahmachari is interested in my sex life then I have nothing to say to him. As far as Shobhaa aunty is concerned, I would say that everyone has opinions. I have mine and she has hers. She needs to see life from every point of view. I have lived and have grown up in the smallest of towns when my father used to go to work not knowing whether he would come back alive or not. I have struggled a lot to come where I have come. So when I speak, I speak from all those experiences. I don’t speak from my experiences of being a socialite or my sexual experiences. That’s not how I judge people. So I do not approve of her judgement of people. She only has good things to say about people who are her friends and that’s not correct. Just because I don’t stand for diplomatically correct issues and world peace as other beauty queens, I am always held at gunpoint by everybody.

For a long time now, you’ve been driven towards spirituality. What was it that initiated you towards it? What are the steps you’re taking in this direction?
It has always been there in me. Just that it has come into the limelight now. I have always worked with NGOs. Since the age of 16, I have worked for the rehabilitation of sex workers in Kolkata, which has the biggest red light area in Asia. But nobody knew about it because I was nobody then. My grandmother has been an educationist. She is on the board of directors in many schools. She has worked with the United Nations. My mother is a child psychologist and she has done social work all her life. So I have grown up in a family like that and it runs in my blood. My family has done service to the nation on borders. For the community to progress, everybody needs to embrace everyone as one. Someone has to begin somewhere. I am not doing all this to get an award or anything. Please, I don’t need any award to be a good human being.

Sometime back, there were rumours that you were secretly dating Mimoh Chakraborty. He was besotted by you and tried to woo you desperately. What happened to that?
I think all this happened probably because during the shooting of Accident On Hill Road, poor Mimoh came and presented me a card signed by him and his whole family. I know Mithunda since my Kolkata days and respect him a lot. But because Mimoh gave me the card in front of everybody, it made headlines and was blown out of proportion.

You’ve always been radical in your comments about sex. Most people have also been shocked by some of your statements. Today, do you still feel sex is the most important aspect in a relationship?
I have been a spokesperson for the HIV AIDS development program. Here I am doing the right thing by telling young people to get an HIV test before marriage rather than only getting your birth charts matched by an astrologer. I am just trying to be a citizen of today’s world and not living in the 18th century.

Is it true that now you only want to work with big banners because you don’t want to experiment anymore?
People are presuming that maybe because I am working with lots of big banners right now. Honestly speaking, it has always been more about working on a good script and with a good director. The captain of the ship has to be good, no matter which banner he works under. So if the captain is good, it doesn’t matter for me if I am in a canoe or in a luxury cruise. I have never restricted myself to anything. I would love to work with anybody who makes good cinema.

Source: Stardust

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