Lisa Hayden: The new face of the item girl?
She's dark, tall and beautiful. But Lisa Hayden, who made her debut in the fashion flick Aisha, is convinced that she was a Bollywood misfit until very recently.
"Some years ago, there was no space for a girl like me or the characters I play. There was only room for that simple girl-next-door, living in an even simpler family set-up," said Hayden.
Perhaps she has a point. A decade ago, a foxy thing like her would have been relegated to playing a vamp or at best a gangster's moll who dances the night away at a seedy nightclub.
Today, there seems to be a lot more dignity to being the token item girl who has a little dialogue as she shimmies away in skimpy clothes. In the comic caper Rascals, the Indian-Australian model claims she plays a pivotal role in the film starring Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt. In addition to two songs the title and the club track she even has a few lines.
"I took on Rascals because I liked my character she is so far removed from who I am. She says things that I could never do or say in real life. I met with David sir [David Dhawan, Rascals director] three or four times to discuss my role and my item number. And each time, I had this gut feeling that this role would be a good thing to do."
However, she knows that she has been incorporated to beef up the glamour quotient. In the racy song Shake It Saiyaan, Hayden is seen writhing in leather hot pants with a whip to boot straddling bikes and boys in equal measure.
"The choreography is something on the lines of Pussycat Dolls-meets-Lady Gaga. It took me a couple of days to get into the groove."
And since seductive numbers in Bollywood are becoming serious business, did it mean that she had to prepare her body and mind for it?
"I did not go on a crazy diet to look good," she said . We were rehearsing for five straight days for more than 10 hours for the songs. So whatever I got, I ate. And the fact is you need to make peace with what you have got."
That's probably easier if you look like the lithe Hayden with her bee-stung lips, defined cheekbones and endless legs.
"The deal is to make the best of what you have. Honestly, when I was growing up, I was teased for being too skinny. The minute you grow up, the same people were like, Skinny is the best thing to be.' You can't please people all the time. So it's important to be happy with your body, your shortcomings."
Apparently, being a tad too glamorous can be a stumbling block something Hayden found out soon enough in Bollywood.
"People perceive me as this glamorous, beautiful person because of my modelling background, being constantly on the ramp, under the arc lights. But I do think that my glam image can be deconstructed with time. I have worked very hard to build that perception of me being glamorous. But life isn't all that glamorous for me."
Though her gripe won't have us reaching for the Kleenex any time soon, Aisha did deal her a rather raw deal. More of a showcase for Sonam Kapoor and her Dior bags, Hayden who played Abhay Deol's sexy colleague and date was lost among the designer goodies.
Surprisingly, the Rascals dancer is unfazed by it.
"I have to tell you that I am not in the habit of watching my film after it has been shot. I haven't seen Aisha yet I didn't even attend the premiere because I was working and I don't like the idea of watching my films before people see them."
This quirk may go against an artist for whom narcissism comes naturally, but she adds that it's a blinkers-on phase for her.
"I am focused on the future and getting there."