(Laughs) John's (Abraham) mother asked me, "Are you the villain?" I told her, "Aunty, you'll have to see the film." I get that reaction a lot. I have played the villain before so people are free to assume what they like.
But I can throw Neil like that very easily. I told him, 'Don't take pangas with me or I'll do it for real.' I also threw Saif (Ali Khan) off in Race, so I'm getting a reputation. In the film, you move ahead because of a camera Neil's character inherits. It's a simple story with no logic and yet it's treated against a real background and no gimmicks.
Neil told us he loves you both, but John's a darling and…
I'm a tyrant. I know I read that. I asked him, 'What did you say that for? Now everyone's calling, asking me how I'm a tyrant.'
At the beginning of Aa Dekhen Zara's shoot, everyone was relatively new. There wasn't that one thread holding the film together. Everyone needed a shaking-up, so yes, I became the villain for the first week. My director (Jehangir Surti) is so sweet and harmless that I told him to start cracking the whip. My director of photography Jehangir Chowdhury was one strong man, so both of us got some discipline on the sets.
So they started teasing you.
No, they were too scared to even do that! (Grins) The tyrant word is just coming out now. Neil supported me though in that.
So what would you label him?
Neil is a number. He's a sweet, over-excited guy who knows his job. He has a sound knowledge of filmmaking. He becomes something else on screen.
And he called John a darling… Let me tell you, Neil would be in a state of shock if he got to know the real John. (Laughs) John shows the face he wants to show. I know that best! Yes, I can be brutally honest or scare people, but that's me.
Raaz 2 released — did you catch it?
I love the songs, but I'm not curious to see it now. I haven't seen so many films I wanted to. I really like (director) Mohit Suri and wished him well before Raaz 2's release. I wanted to see it then, but now, no time.
So much has been made of size zero. What do you feel? Everyone thinks of Bipasha Basu as curvaceous.
Everyone has a certain body type. What fun would there be if everyone looked like the other's clone? If a girl has a petite bone structure, then you can achieve that size zero. I like to swing between athletic and curvaceous. I don't aspire to attain size zero because I'm too tall and would look too gawky. In the west, young girls diet trying to get that look, get anorexic, bulimic. But I wouldn't condemn anyone if they are a particular size, as long as they achieve it healthily.
When I go to the gym, I get a million compliments, but the moment I turn my back, people say, "It's unnatural. She must have done something." They don't see the two hours I put in, regardless of whether I had a 16-hour workday. I read in a publication that during Bachna Ae Haseeno, I did a tummy tuck. Why would I do that? (Laughs) I was so thin. It's ridiculous and gives the wrong idea to those who want to get fit. People then go for these short-cuts that can actually mess up your lives.
You're doing a Hollywood movie called Chaimera with Billy Zane?
That's not happening for now. If we work out everything, I'll make an announcement.
Bachna Ae Haseeno didn't do great, but you walked away with all the praise.
It was a difficult role. Ranbir (Kapoor) is so sweet and I felt bad being nasty to him! I can't be that way in real life because I'm too simple. That sham crumbles. I'm happy that everybody, wherever I've gone, has only nice things to say to me about my performance in Bachna.
You had problems shooting Lamha in Kashmir. All sorted?
Yes, it's fabulous, a film I'm so proud of. The problem was only in the first schedule at Kashmir. The people then were so restless and mistrustful of us. It became worse when they shot a scene using a fake AK-47 in a marketplace.
After that, when we went to shoot at Anantnag, my hairdresser and me were the only two women on the unit. The CRPF jawans there kept teasing me, 'Bipasha, zara chehra toh dikhaeeye, smile dijiye. Picture mein bahut smile karti ho.' One wanted to marry me! After seven days, I told my director, 'I'm leaving; I'll come back when things are under control.' I had fought with my parents and gone to shoot in Kashmir. They've never discouraged me; become a model, join movies, travel abroad, okay. But this shoot in Kashmir, they said, 'Bonnie, you can't.' I spoke to Sanju (Dutt), who reached the next day and packed up the unit. The next schedule, we were better prepared and it all got sorted.
It's Women's Day today. What do you love most about being a woman?
I don't ever want to be a man. There's a song by Beyonce (Knowles) If I were a boy, it would be just for one day. I wouldn't even want that. I'd have to be heartless. It's not their fault, they're made like that. They can't think like us. They're ineffective in time management. They can't balance their parents, lovers and work together. No man has mastered it, not even my father who's obsessed with his wife.
Men are like babies when it comes to their women. Their true, rainbow colours come out before their women. I don't want to be that. I like to smile always; at work, with my parents or boyfriend. It's not an obligation. Even if I work 20 hours a day, I would have the energy for my family or boyfriend. And women don't crib as much as men — for them, the world is always falling apart. I'm in control and have my priorities crystal clear and give them equal attention.
You've been in a relationship with John Abraham so long.
Eight years. We even crossed the seven-year itch.
What's the secret of a long-term relationship?
Patience! Lots of it. Every year has its own charm. The first three years is the attraction and going crazy over each other. After that, you decide if you want to be with that person. By then, you're hopelessly in love. There's habit, attachment, companionship, attraction, trust, protectiveness. Every year, you have more problems but if you want to be together, you fight them. Forgive and forget.
Men especially take women more for granted. But remind your partner not to. I've been good at telling him that. If you can't live without that person, don't take them for granted. Also, give each other lots of space; don't do everything together.
So as a couple in the spotlight, are you conscious of your body language?
If we're fighting and don't want to be lovey dovey, we're cool. I'm in an eight-year relationship — I have a right to fight with my boyfriend! We don't hold hands in public anyways. We're over that. We hold hands in private. It doesn't matter what people think. It won't last if people control it.
In the eight years together, were there any that were more difficult than the others?
Two years back was tough on me as a woman. But I'm very strong and secure in a relationship. That keeps us going.
Into the mind of a woman
Your current obsession: Workouts! (Laughs) All kinds — pilates, yoga and my favourite, weight training.
One subject that everyone turns to Bipasha as the expert: Other people think they can ask me anything glamorous, fashionable or even as a gamer or a planner. But I think I'm up for emotional, sensitive roles with less inhibitions.
The greatest actor of your generation: I love Sean Penn. He's fabulous in everything. In India, if I have to choose, probably Aamir Khan. He puts in a lot of thought.
The most wonderful film you saw recently: Hmmm, I saw Slumdog Millionaire last that was nice, but not out of the world. It should have been made more for an Indian audience to open them up to our poverty. Because it exists. Everyone's criticising how it shows India in a bad light. But when we land in Mumbai, we see slums. We see beggars at traffic signals. This movie will at least bring in some charity.
The one civic sense you wish people had: Oh I wish people would stop spitting! I've had so many fights. I've yelled at taxi drivers. I recently saw this amazingly dressed woman in a Honda Civic do the same thing. That was the end of it for me.
The one thing that's unforgivably rude in Bipasha's book: I've always been around chivalrous men. So it gets me angry when men rush forward to help me at an airport just because I'm an actor and ignore senior citizens. We need to be nicer to old people.