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Interview with Ileana

1.Your debut film Barfi! is a 100-crore hit and it’s also India’s entry to the Oscars this year. How proud are you of the film?

I am thrilled! I didn’t expect this. I just wanted everyone to enjoy it. Everyone took a risk with Barfi!, especially me, since it was my debut film. I’m glad the gamble paid off. In fact, I was prepared for the worst. It’s a beautiful film and when I saw it, I loved it. I just didn’t know whether people would like me in it. I still haven’t come to terms with all the accolades the film has received.

2.During the making of the film, there were rumours of your rivalry with Priyanka Chopra. What really happened?

You know, people were writing about our catfights before we even met. The truth is, PC is amazing to work with. She’s a firecracker, she just cannot sit still. Honestly, I was looking forward to working with her because I had seen her films. She’s an intense performer. And I get inspired by such people. In fact, I didn’t expect her to be so chatty and laidback. She’s unbelievably chilled out.

3.On the other hand, Ranbir Kapoor and you apparently got along like a house on fire…

Ranbir perceives me as someone I’m not. He thinks I’m shy, quiet and reserved. But that’s because this was my first film in Mumbai and I was just very involved in my work. Though we worked together for two years on the film, we don’t really know each other well. He’s a nice guy, who’s amazing to work with. Now that you have made a successful entry into B-town, will your career down South take a backseat?I wouldn’t want to say that because I never thought I’d ever get into Hindi films. But I’m getting some really good offers here. And if I do get something great down South, I’ll consider it. I’d like to be here for a very long time. I’ve moved here for good now.

4.After a slightly offbeat debut, you’ve signed an out-an-out commercial film like Phata Poster Nikla Hero. Was that a deliberate move?

Well, that’s because after Barfi! I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want people to only perceive me as a serious actor. Fact is my image down South is that of a completely commercial heroine. And Rajkumar Santoshi makes typical masala films, so I thought it would be fun to do a film like that.

5.Reports say Shahid Kapoor and you got along famously well during the prep of Phata Poster Nikla Hero. True?

We still haven’t met that much, so I don’t know him. But he seems like a nice guy.So who are the actresses in B-town that inspire you? My utmost favourite is Kajol. She’ll always be my inspiration. I love the fact that she’s not Barbie-doll perfect. She’s always herself and doesn’t give a shit. And I want the actresses of today to portray that because we’re not Barbie dolls. We’re just regular people, who happen to be in the glamour industry. I admire Vidya Balan too because she hasn’t stuck to filmi norms and is still successful. She’s quite gutsy.

6.Little is known about your personal life. Are you single or are you seeing someone?

I keep my personal life private and I like it that way. When the time is right, I will say what I need to. I’m not ready to reveal my relationship status just yet.

7.That means you’re taken…

(Giggles) Keep guessing.

8.So what attracts you in a man?

Honesty. I like people who are genuine and that’s the first thing I notice in a guy. Also, he has to have an amazing sense of humour because I am a complete goofball.

9.Indian men are generally intimidated by women who are strong and outgoing. Have you ever experienced that?

I’m not sure. Yes, I know that women tend to mature faster than men. And people have told me that I am a lot more mature than other girls who are 26. I find it difficult to relate to men my age.

10.You get along better with older men?

Yeah, I tend to connect with men who are a little older. I am attracted to older men. I also guess it’s because of the profession I am in. The women in our profession are exposed to a lot more at a young age, so they mature faster. The age gap between my parents is 12 years. The age gap between my sister and her husband is 10. When you fall in love, age shouldn’t really matter.

11.So what about marriage? Do you want to settle down soon?

I am actually sceptical about the institution of marriage. I can see myself living in with someone but I can’t really picture myself getting married. As of now, I don’t see it happening. But things change, so you never know. I can’t put it down on paper and say why I am sceptical about it. I have seen marriages work. But I guess I don’t need a ring around my finger or a piece of paper to tell me that this seals my bond with my man. I am happy with a live-in relationship. What’s wrong with that? You’re not stepping on anyone else’s toes. It’s your life and you can live it the way you want to.

12.To sum it up, are you insecure about your profession?

I’m not insecure nor am I clinging to it with both hands. I love my job and I am committed to what I do. But tomorrow, if things don’t work out, I’ll be comfortable not being an actor. See, you have to be broad-minded and prepared that you’re not going to be in this industry for the rest of your life. At some point in time, you have to bow out gracefully. And I’d rather bow out gracefully than be kicked out. I feel sad for girls who don’t understand that it’s their time to move away.

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