Scent of a woman
DUBAI: Between all the body-buffing and bicep-building sits the chiselled beauty Chitrangada Singh. With legs that span a mile and cascading brown locks, Singh is the class nerd with sex appeal that makes you weak in the knees.
Yes, she's drop dead gorgeous. But the beauty is a package deal with brains. She does a lot more than just bat her eyelashes and smile coyly. Singh has an opinion and she isn't afraid to voice it. She holds her own, with silent dignity, even in a roomful of A-list celebs. At the press conference for Desi Boyz, her first commercial venture, Singh sits with perfect poise. She may be sandwiched between co-stars Akshay Kumar, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone, but her star still shines through.
You see, Singh isn't just another girl with stars in her eyes. She'll all woman, this one. A wife, a mother, a career woman and a pin-up idol, a title she looks forward to with a rare burst of eagerness. "Am I ready to be a sex symbol? Ask any woman the same question, be she 15 or 50 years old, and chances are, she'll reply with a resounding yes. There's isn't a woman alive who doesn't harbour that desire, be it out in the open, or secretly, in her heart. I'd be lying if I said I didn't relish it."
And right there we see the contrast between the woman Singh's body language portrays her to be, and the siren residing deep within.
While she sits there in quiet confidence, with the slightest hint of a smile toying with the corners of her mouth, she portrays a confidence only a woman of 35 can. She isn't here to wow the press. She isn't here to compete with the 20-something blonde ambition crowd.
"I don't get involved with the Bollywood race to the top. I took four years off after my last release, and I didn't even think anyone remembered me. I'm just happy to have the opportunity to be in front of the camera once more.
"I took such a long break and gave four years of my life to my family and my husband. Now it's my turn to indulge my desires once again," says Singh, the coyness all but gone now. In its place rests silent ambition. Here's a woman who knows what she wants from life and isn't afraid to go out there and get it.
As her co-star Akshay Kumar puts it, "I was bowled over by Chitrangada from the moment we shot our first scene together. Rarely have I seen beauty and talent come together so effortlessly. The closest I could get to making a comparison would be that she reminds me of the late Smita Patil, an actress I've always admired."
Big words, coming from an actor of Kumar's status. As we watch Singh absorb these compliments, the slight smile on her face grows larger. Suddenly, for the first time since we met her, Singh starts laughing. Kumar clearly hit the right chord with his choice of words.
But the laughter is short-lived, as soon as the conversation shifts from womanhood to motherhood, the actress sobers up. She acknowledges the fact that juggling her career, her son and her husband isn't an easy task at the best of times. But when that career is one that puts you in the public eye and creates a pin-up idol out of you, the stakes are instantly raised.
"There are good days and bad days," she says. "Some days I feel like Superwoman and think nothing's beyond me. Other days, I'm not so sure any more. But I want this life. I want to stretch myself thin and do everything I can."
Clearly a woman who won't compromise on her desires, Singh adds that nothing, not even family would come in the way. "I need to do whatever it is that piques my interest. If the movie isn't family-oriented, if my son can't watch it yet, so be it. I'm not going to be embarrassed about or change the kind of movies I do just because of him. I have to follow my heart."