By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: They both fell from grace together and have risen from the ashes to heights of glory in Vikas Behl’s Queen.
Lisa Haydon and Kangna Ranaut share a common destiny. Basking in the terrific response to her performance in Queen, Lisa says, “Kangna and I have spoken about our karmic connection. We both did a film called Rascals (directed by David Dhawan) two years ago and we both felt like fish out of water.The film was an agonizing experience for both of us. And now we’re both feeling a sense of triumph and euphoria after Queen. It’s amazing!”
Lisa admits she was tempted to call it quits after Rascals. “I realized I was not cut out to be a conventional Bollywood heroine. After Rascals I thought I was not going to last over here. Adding hair-extensions, false eyelashes and other accessories and dancing with the heroes to a raunchy beat was just not me.”
In that hour of despair came a glimmer of hope in the form of Vikas Bahl.
Sighs Lisa, “It was god-sent. Vikas came in with the free-spirited Vijay Laxmi’s part at a time when I had reached a dead-end in my movie career. Doing item numbers in revealing clothes was not what I was cut out to do.”
The part of the bohemian single mother Vijay Laxmi in Queen was something that fell into Lisa lap. “I didn’t know such a character existed in Bollywood cinema.Vikas actually tailored the role to suit my personality. This is not to say that Vijay Laxmi wasn’t interesting the way she was. She was a wild child a, single mother who drinks hard and swears hard. She is nothing like what audiences in our country expect our female characters to be.”
And yet audiences have embraced Vijay Laxmi’s other-ness wholeheartedly. Lisa can’t believe the adulation she is getting. “I am currently doing city tours of Queen. The film’s popularity is growing by word-of-mouth,and so is the reach and appeal of Kangna and my character.”
Lisa makes no bones about the fact that the script has an author-backed role for Kangna. “We were very clear from the start on that. And yet when Vikas offered Vijay Laxmi to me I knew there was something about this girl that would make her very special. Vikas had written Vijay Laxmi’s character in one way. But when he met me he added strokes to the character, made her closer to the way I was, so that I could embrace her as though I knew her all my life.”
Now Lisa is engrossed in gathering compliments from the debris of her nearly-shattered film career. “I have to confess it feels good, specially when a girl came up to me and said, ‘I though only I was like that. Then I saw you in Queen and I realized there was someone else exactly like me.’ My God! That was an out-of-body moment.”
Her Catholic family is not much into Hindi films. But they saw Queen and loved their little baby.
Laughs Lisa, “The thing is, my family is not fluent in Hindi. Neither am I. But I am working on my language. You’d be happy to know I’ve dubbed all my Hindi lines in my next film Akash Deep’s Santa Banta on my own. But to my family the Bollywood bhasha is pretty alien. So they saw Queen with skepticism. To my surprise they loved the film, and my character. They went back again to see the film. That was the moment when I realized we had done something special in the film.”
What Queen has given back to Lisa is her self-worth. “I felt I was a misfit in Bollywood. I couldn’t connect with the things that I was required to do. I felt my personality was too peculiar to blend in Bollywood. Queen has taught me to celebrate my specialness, my uniqueness. Yeah, I am not like other Bollywood heroines.And I am comfortable with that now.”
She pledges not to do any role that doesn’t connect with her personality. “I keep getting offers for item songs. I don’t want to get into that groove again. After Queen I need a role and a character that is equally special. I can wait for it come. I am in no hurry.”
Lisa looks back at her struggle in Bollywood with no bitterness. “Struggle is a good thing. It helps you to appreciate the success and recognition when they come. I don’t want anything to come easily to me.”