Like Aamir Khan, she refuses to carry a cellphone. “People consider that strange for an actress to not have one,” she says, sipping tea in her spacious Marine Drive apartment. But Tara Deshpande is just not your typical Bollywood bimbettes. Wait until March when HarperCollins will publish her collection of 12 short stories and 38 poems. For now, she is the vampish Dolly in Kaizad Gustad’s Bombay Boys.
Again, like Aamir, she seems to be doing too few films three in two years. Well, not that she is following in his footsteps. “The kind of films or roles that I want to do, don’t come my way,” she explains. “They go to Madhuri Dixit. And then, what I get offered aren’t really far from rubbish. So I would rather do films that I enjoy doing, than grab potentially bad offers. After all, what’s the point in doing films that one doesn’t enjoy and which bomb at the box office, anyway? If you are doing something you enjoy, at least 50 per cent satisfaction exists in doing it.” By the way, she adds in the same breath, she can predict how good or bad a film is on the basis of the promos shown on the small screen. “Tell you, I should open an agency,” jokes Tara, “asking filmmakers to show me their promos and I’ll tell them how good the film is!” On the other hand, she would rather do plays — because they offer “great scripts and good roles”.
In fact, Bombay Boys happened while she was doing Alyque Padamsee’s play, Begum Sumroa “Somebody told me that Kaizad was looking for an actress.” But, much to her shock, the longhaired filmmaker rejected her instantly “He thought I had a very refined model look.” But an adamant Tara wouldn’t take no for an answer, definitely not without being given an opportunity to prove her talent. The persistence paid off and three auditions later, she was Dolly “She is less than middle-class,” says Tara, explaining passionately about her character in the film. “She is the type who flips through film magazines, sees these actresses in glitzy costumes and rushes to gustafa Tailor down the road.There is a certain earthiness about her. It’s a fabulous role.”
And, yes, she was aware of the kissing scene with Naseeruddin Shah right from the beginning. “Yeah, I was tense about it,” she confesses. “I had done kissing scenes on the stage, but those were romantic ones. In Bombay Boys, it is a painful, humiliating scene. But Naseer is this amazingly kind human being, he knew I was tense. We shot the scene with only the essential crew on the sets.” But later Naseer would joke about it to her, saying that when Tara’s mother puts up a matrimonial ad in the papers, she could word it as, “Seeking alliance for a middleclass Maharashtrian girl, who is slightly kissed!”
Coming back to her book, Tara began writing it about a year-and-half ago. “I actually started writing a novel,” she says. “But then, I laid my hands on a book of modem contemporary verse, and I was hooked.” Tara put aside her incomplete novel and began writing poems and short stories. “I showed it Kaizad, who asked me to get in touch with publishers. Initially, I felt intimidated, thinking of Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy and all those great writers. Frankly, who would actually want to publish mine?” So she showed her work to three publishers. “I showed my manuscript under three assumed names, so that the fact that I am an actress didn’t influence their judgement. But they rejected it, saying there was no market for verse. Fortunately, HarperCollins agreed to publish both, my stories and poems.” Once the book is out in March, she hopes to get back to her novel and finish it, provided she finds time in between the handful of mainstream movies she has signed. “I am too superstitious, so let’s not talk about them.”