Neha Dhupia talks about her maiden American television stint as this Diwali,her musical miniseries Bollywood Hero,premieres on HBO in India.
How did Bollywood Hero happen?
My casting was old-school style,just like that of a beginner. A friend of mine told me the producers of the series were conducting auditions. Most actors dont like auditioning because they believe that after a considerable acting experience,roles should be offered to them on the basis of their previous work or their popularity. But I have no such reservations. So I gave the audition. They liked it and hence offered me the role.
How real is the portrayal of the Indian film industry in the Bollywood Hero?
It is a spoof,yet every comical scene is based on real-life incidents. In the show,there are sequences in which Bollywood heroines are shown throwing tantrums. For example,they wont step out in the sun without a large umbrella hovering over them. The idiosyncrasies as well as the erratic behaviour of the film industry is very correctly portrayed. And since it is a musical,there is also a lot of Bollywood-style dancing.
You play one such Bollywood heroine in the show. Are you like that in your real life?
I play a typical,high-maintenance actress named Alima Lakhani. She is cast opposite Chris Kattan,the lead of the show,who comes to India to live his Bollywood dream. She is determined to teach him the ways of Bollywood. She is snooty,temperamental and non-conforming,and I am her complete opposite. I actually had to do a lot of acting to play that role.
Many Indian actors have acted in Hollywood movies but your American appearance comes with a TV series.
Why did you choose this platform?
Many actresses and actors claim to do Hollywood movies,but how many people have actually seen them or even heard of them? Television is a whole new market and has lot of opportunities for growth. When Bollywood Hero was shown in the USA,it received a very good response,so I am happy doing something where my work is visible and acknowledged.
How was the experience of working with an international cast and crew?
Chris Kattan was a lot of fun. Whether it was a cow on the road or a festival like Holi,the American cast and crew would always find a reason to be amazed. They could not comprehend why people threw colours on each other to celebrate a festival. I would teach them a thing or two about the real Bollywood life and they would tell me their experiences. Work wise,the team was extremely professional.
What are your expectations from the show in India?
It was well-received abroad and I hope the results are repeated here. American sitcoms have mostly done well here. Besides,I did the show as it adds variety to my acting experience.