Raai Laxmi: I have never compromised my values to get a role
The actor takes time out to discuss Julie 2, and why she believes it’s empowering for women
Julie 2 that marked Raai Laxmi’s debut in Bollywood has released to mixed reception. There’s been a lot of talk about it, especially over its producer, Pahlaj Nihalani, and the rumour that the film is based on a true story. Excerpts from a chat with the lead actor, Raai Laxmi, as she opens up about the film:
Do you agree that these ‘glamorous’ characters, the kind you play in Julie 2, objectify women?
I don’t categorise films like you do. I don’t think you can box people. A film is a film. I accept an offer when I really like it. Julie 2 is a story you and I can connect with.
Yes, I wear a bikini in the film. What’s wrong with that? I lost around 12 kgs for my role and had to put on weight again. Saying no to food was so hard. I suffered a leg injury and was fighting depression for a while, but my friends and family were supportive of me. And yes, the glamorous portions were awkward to shoot initially. But I realised I was shooting a film. My director Deepak Shivdasani always called me Julie on the sets. It was all for the character.
In previous interviews, you have stated that you believe Julie 2 to be an empowering film.
Yes, and I still do. I saw myself in the protagonist. I have seen both hits and flops in my career. Would you believe if I say I still have the jitters of a newcomer even today? Julie 2 is about an actor who faces hardships, and how she undergoes a transformation. This makes her stronger.
They say the film is based on a true story.
Yes, but I can’t name the actor it’s based on. I am not supposed to! (Smiles)
Julie 2 also talks about the casting couch.
It exists in the industry, but I haven’t faced such issues myself. Karka Kasadara was my first film in Tamil, and the director RV Udayakumar introduced me. He’s almost like a father to me.
I have never compromised my values as a woman to get a role and never will. I do dance numbers for purely commercial reasons. Whatever be my career, it is fiercely all mine. You need to ‘adjust’ only when you’re incompetent. And incompetency is sadly rather common.
Around the time you were doing Dhaam Dhoom, you were a much sought-after heroine in Tamil cinema.
You’re saying I am not now? (Laughs)
You’re not doing too many Tamil films as a heroine these days.
(Smiles) People say I am doing more cameos than full-fledged roles. It’s true. I’m simply taking life as it comes. I’ve acted alongside stars like Ajith, Mohanlal, Balakrishna and Mammootty. So what if I did only the dance number? Does that not make me a good actor?
But yes, I’m hopeful that directors will cast me in better and more different roles. The onus is on directors to think out of the box. There was a time when I was doing five films a year. I was so busy that I had no time for Hindi films.
I am doing Yaar, a horror-thriller directed by KS Bawa. It won’t be another Julie 2. I promise you that. (Smiles) I have also signed a Tamil film with Jai, and one in Malayalam with Mammootty.