Newcomer Amita Pathak, producer Kumar Mangat's daughter who's just made her debut with "Haal-e-Dil", says her dad's close friend Ajay Devgan is like an elder brother who's always been a pillar of strength for her.
"I can't remember a time when Ajay Bhaiyya has not been there for me. He's like a very protective loving elder brother. As a child, he'd be there for me at functions just like a parent. Once he had fever, but he came for a function only because I asked him to.
"And when I was assisting John Matthew Mathan in 'Shikhar', Ajay Bhaiyya would be hovering protectively - making sure I was never alone, having me driven home escorted at night. He and Kajol-di are parents beyond my own parents!" Amita told IANS.
"And it was just logical that my debut would have Ajay Bhaiyya standing behind it like a pillar of strength. He was there to select my two co-stars," the 22-year-old said.
Kumar Mangat had launched an all-India hunt for his daughter's co-stars.
"The first one - Nakkul Mehta - came into the picture long before the second - Adhyayan. So I'm far more comfortable with Nakkul," said Amita. "We've practically grown as actors together."
Before facing the camera, she assisted on "Shikhar" and her father's production "Omkara". "And I must admit some people on the sets of 'Shikhar' thought of me as an influential producer's pampered daughter. But I worked hard to prove I was sincere. I still have to do that."
Amita revealed that she had wanted to be an actress since childhood, but her father was opposed to it.
"I remember as a child when my father was producing 'Khilaaf' I'd hover around Madhuri Dixit. I idolised her. That's when I decided I'd become an actress when I grew up. But when I announced my decision to my dad, he was totally opposed to it. I told him, 'Either acting or I'll just settle down with the first boy who seems suitable'. Then I was on a holiday in Punjab when dad suddenly called to say he's making a film for me. I didn't know how to react!"
"Haal-e-Dil", Amita says, has three protagonists. "But it isn't a love triangle. That's the beauty of it. In other details, if all love stories are the same it can't be helped. Even in real life boy meets girl ... And, more often than not, the parents don't approve. That's the way the rules for people in love work."
The debutante is aware that she'll be judged harshly because she comes from a film family.
"And I don't blame people for being cynical. Just look at the number of talented youngsters who are waiting for a chance. If I've been given an opportunity, I'd better prove myself," Amita quipped.
At the same time, she thought the advantages of being launched by her family were tremendous.
"People know where you come from. They won't offer you strange roles or ask you to do embarrassing things. I know I'm pampered silly within my dad's banner. But sooner or later I'll be on my own. It's like the child who's taken to the gate of the school. From there she's on her own."
Indo-Asian News Service