At her sister Zakia Jeelani’s plush villa in Meadows, Bigg Boss 7 winner Gauahar Khan appears a bit shifty. She is dying to go shopping on what is supposed to be her holiday; instead she has a long line-up of interviews to give. Not that she has any complaints. The media interactions, after all, are being held for promoting her interior decorator-turned-entrepreneur sister’s new venture, an Italian restaurant named Le Duplex in Jumeirah.
“The difference is that we serve shisha too, a rarity for an Italian restaurant, we wanted a change from the regular Arabic food-shisha combo,” says a proud Zakia, talking about her pet project. Then looking fondly at her sister, she says, “Gauahar isn’t staying with me for a change. She is supposed to be on a holiday but I am making her work!”
But the professional that she is, Gauahar immediately gets ready for our tete-a-tete as we grill her on her films, item songs, Bigg Boss, Fear Factor and playing supporting characters. Excerpts from our interview right here…
How often do you come to Dubai?
Not very often. I came here exactly a year ago in April. I have three homes to visit during my trips here and there are lots of children who demand a lot of my time.
Is everyone in your family a foodie?
Yes! We belong to a family of foodies. I eat everything I fancy though at times I have to watch what I eat. Even during the shoot of Fear Factor in South Africa, I would not think twice before digging into something!
What is your favourite food memory?
The image of my mum in the kitchen... she is an excellent cook. The way she would do masalas…nobody does it as well! Whatever I know of cooking or food, I owe it to her.
You have done modeling, films, reality TV, anchoring…don’t you think you have your finger in too many pies? Isn’t it better to focus on one medium?
Well, when I can handle all of them why shouldn’t I? People have loved me in everything I have taken up. The votes and support I got during Bigg Boss was unimaginable. I did over 600 shows of a Bollywood musical (at Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, India) and I have done movies too. I enjoy being involved in several projects and performing on different media. I am fortunate to have been accepted in all.
You were also one of the top models and a Miss India finalist. How do you look back on those days?
I am so glad I am done with that! I don’t think I could have been a model for over six years. Modelling is tougher than films. To survive in the modeling industry for years, especially in India is an art. There are groups formed by choreographers and designers and it’s just too tough to break into it all. You don’t find the politics in films or TV that you see in modeling. I was never happy being a model, I wanted to perform and be an artiste. Even today when I go for a show, the vibe I get is very different from what I get on a film set.
But in movies, be it your debut Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year or Ishaqzaade, you have mostly played the supporting character. Are you happy with that?
As far as Rocket Singh is concerned, I had an amazing role and I performed well enough for people to remember my character. I know I may have not been opposite Ranbir but the story was about me and the four guys. In my head I am the lead. I performed enough for people to remember me and that is more important than being opposite the hero! I have never followed any norms in the industry; on the contrary I have defied everything that the industry abides by. For me my character is important and the role should be impactful.
Do you think belonging or making your debut with a big banner helps?
I made my debut with Yash Raj films and I am probably the only artiste who has done two films with them despite not having a three film contract. I also worked with Balaji. The only advantage of a big banner is that you are assured of a release. My first film as a lead heroine, Fever with Rajeev Khandelwal, is not a big banner film but has an excellent script. Ultimately, it’s your work that speaks.
Bigg Boss has been your biggest success in recent times. Where has this title taken you?
I haven’t thought about it yet. I take each day at a time. Did you know that everyone – my agency and producers – advised me against taking up Bigg Boss? But I went ahead and did it. My family wondered where I got the patience from. Of course, after I won the show, everyone was happy and said I had done the right thing. But the experience taught me I was much stronger than I thought I was.
What is your equation with Bigg Boss inmates now?
I am not in touch with most of them. I love Apu (Apurva Agnihotri), Shilpa, Sofia Hayat and of course Kushal but am not in touch with everyone.
You are now seen in Fear Factor? How was the experience?
I am really happy with Fear Factor. Every stunt I did was scary. I had a lot of fears – of heights, reptiles, action… but I am happy to have confronted them all.
We are too curious, who won the title?
I can’t say! I am under a strict contract!
For your chance to dine with Gauhar at Le Duplex tomorrow, April 3, 2014, call 050 190 5803 or 056 608 4004. It costs Dhs150 per head for a four course meal.