Lara Dutta won the Miss Universe crown in 2000 and since then, she has delivered around 30 films over a two decade-long successful film career. She is now back with the third installment in the Welcome franchise. She shared the frame with Akshay Kumar, Raveena Tandon, Sanjay Dutt and many others in the Welcome To The Jungle teaser and says that she, just like Raveena Tandon, needed something worthy enough to say yes to the project. Also read: Lara Dutta on starring in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Charlie Chopra: We came close to working together twice in the past but…
In a candid interaction with Hindustan Times, Lara opened up about the upcoming comedy film as well as her life after winning the Miss Universe crown. She also talked about her 11-year-old daughter Saira with husband and Tennis champion Mahesh Bhupathi. Excerpts:
You were spotted in the hilarious Welcome to the Jungle teaser. What can we expect from the film?
It’s going to be absolute madness. I can’t tell you how many messages from very influential people in the industry say ‘please can we come and be on this set’. The script is just absolutely crazy. It’s exciting. Obviously for Raveena and myself to come on board, there has to be something substantial for us to be part of it.
You won the Miss Universe crown in 2000. Priyanka Chopra and Dia Mirza also won the Miss World and Miss Asia Pacific pageants respectively in the same year. Can we just call it divine intervention?
I definitely believe in just destiny and faith. And that was India’s year. The stars were aligned and it’s a phenomenon that I don’t think any country can boast off something like this. Venezuela has come close but winning all three major titles is something that only we can claim. I think for all three of us, it is such an honor to be able to do that for your country.
Does winning the crown come with lifelong facilities and perks as well?
You don’t get a pension but you get many things for life. It’s a life altering experience. Your life never goes back to being the same again. It just catapults you into a very different dimension altogether. Over these years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people like Nelson Mandela to Bill Clinton to George Bush to leaders of our own country. Not just meet them and shake their hands, but actually really sit down and work on policy and legislature, work with these incredible people at the Harvard Saints Institute, work with the United Nations for 14 years and so on. Those kinds of opportunities are literally one in a couple of billion.
Do you also have bad days like a bad hair day…
Of course, I’m human. I’m a wife, a mom and a working woman. There are many such days, it’s not easy. It’s not fun either to be on your A game all the time, every day. It’s exhausting. I think every woman has them very frequently, especially when you reach your 40s.
You recently shared a picture of your daughter from Wimbledon. With two stalwarts at home, you and Mahesh Bhupathi, is your daughter inclined towards sports, academics or glamour?
My daughter, thank God, is a really great kid. She has her own personality altogether. I think both Mahesh and I are self achievers who worked our way up from scratch. Nothing was ever given to us on a platter. We never inherited any of this. Both of us realize and understand the hard work, commitment and dedication it takes to get anywhere in life. For us as parents, it’s just laying down the groundwork to give her a very balanced sort of childhood. Giving her the opportunities that we possibly didn’t have, but today, we are in a position that we can give our child. But what she’ll do and where she’ll go and what she’ll become is her destiny. I don’t think that either Mahesh or I want to dictate that to her. At the moment, she enjoys her tennis and has been playing it since she was five years old. But is that the way that she’s going to go? God knows. If she does, I would be absolutely thrilled. If it’s something else, then that’s her destiny. She’s only 11 years old, she’s got her whole life.