Ileana D'cruz was a reluctant model. She wasn't even all that keen on acting but fate willed otherwise. One film led to another and soon Ileana was counted among the top actresses in Tollywood. With her talent and looks, Bollywood wasn't far and she was signed for Barfi! with Ranbir Kapoor. It was a debut that made the entire industry sit up and take notice. Her second film 'Phata Poster Nikla Hero' that released recently didn't exactly set the box office on fire but Ileana looked confident and comfortable in a typical masala film heroine role. Two films with two of the hottest young actors in T'town – Ranbir and Shahid – is enough to send any girl in a tizzy but Ileana plays it cool
You are only two films old but have worked with two superstars of Bollywood. How does it feel?
It feels fabulous. I think it takes a lot of faith to trust someone who is only a recent entrant into the industry. I feel humbled that so many big banners have approached me. It pushes me to work harder. I have learnt so much from both my co-stars!
How do you look back on working with Ranbir Kapoor in 'Barfi!'?
It was a very different experience. We didn't have a lot of lines in 'Barfi!'; it was mostly spontaneous. There were times when Ranbir would say things in sign language and I would only react to them. As an actor Ranbir doesn't rehearse too much so we just did our shots very quickly. He has a serious side to him and thinks a lot. Most of the time I wouldn't even know what he is thinking about! I have had deep conversations with Ranbir. Most people think he is just a fun guy but actually he is very sincere and deep. He is often misunderstood because of his Casanova image.
What about Shahid Kapoor in 'Phata Poster Nikla Hero'?
Shahid is a total madcap! He's is very hyperactive, funny and very naughty which is what his role demanded. But he's also pretty moody by nature. He has done a great job in the film and I keep telling him that most of his character's traits have rubbed off on him as well.
Recently you shocked us by stating that you are attracted to older men
Why is it shocking? I think I was misunderstood. What I really said was that I am pretty mature for a 26-year-old. People often tell me that I don't talk or behave like a regular 26-year-old woman. Perhaps that's why I also relate to men who are older than me. I can't really connect to most guys my age the way I do with much older men! It's just about the maturity level and as is well known, men mature much later than women do! (aughs).
How is it possible that you are the only co-star Shahid has not been linked with?
Don't you think that's admirable? It has become a fad for people to assume that just because you are working together, you are in a relationship. But the fact is that it is very difficult to see someone you are working with. When it comes to Shahid, I didn't exactly hang out with him on the sets. Such rumours are fuelled when you socialise or meet each other a lot on and off the sets. I don't hobnob too much with my co-stars. I am pretty sincere when it comes to work. Shahid also worked with Rani and he wasn't linked to her, was he? What matters to me is that our chemistry worked well on screen and it was a fun ride.
What is your favourite genre of filmmaking?
I can't really pick and choose. I don't go by the genre of a film; what I look out for is doing something that challenges me. I prefer to do things which make me really edgy and nervous. I like to face things head-on and try and succeed in doing them.
What is the difference in working with Anurag Basu ('Barfi!') and Raj Kumar Santoshi ('Phata Poster Nikla Hero')?
They are like chalk and cheese. I think the difference also lies in the type of films that they make. 'Barfi!' and 'Phata Poster Nikla Hero' are vastly different films so working with the two of them was naturally a very different experience. With Rajji's film we needed to rehearse a lot and prepare our lines and expressions. People think this is easy but one has to work hard to get the comic scenes right.
On the contrary, 'Barfi!' wasn't too rehearsed. We would just head to the sets, get ready and have fun! We just reacted to each other – a scene would take place and we would be drawn to act it out very naturally. It was a very emotional experience; most of the time I didn't use glycerin in the emotional scenes. I actually cried a lot during the shoot that my nose would turn red each time I enacted an emotional scene (laughs).