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Cover Story
September 25, 2015

The Other Side of Ileana D’Cruz

Text by Shashi Baliga. Photographs by Rohan Shrestha. Styling by Nisha Jhangiani. Make-up and hair by Daniel Bauer, Artist Factory India

There are two versions of Ileana D’Cruz. Place a camera before her and she sizzles; take it away and she’s a free-spirited beach girl. Verve gets to see a bit of both

Ileana ran away, right out of the country, to stay with a friend — and switched off her phone. What, she missed all the excitement of the super-success of her Bollywood debut? “I was accessing my mail so I knew what was happening,” she clarifies, “but everyone said I was being really stupid, and maybe I was a coward to run away, but I just couldn’t deal with it.”

Clearly, Ileana does not quite operate like your typically ambitious Hindi film actress. She doesn’t get into the gossip columns too often, she isn’t seen much at film dos or parties; she doesn’t even seem to take her delicate, sharp-featured, golden-skinned beauty too seriously. Quite amazingly, for an actress sitting in front of a room-wide make-up mirror, she’s not checking out her angles or playing with her hair or even looking much in that direction. “I don’t think I’m beautiful or hot. I don’t even think I’m ladylike, though I’m getting there,” she laughs uproariously. “I think I’m goofy and incredibly clumsy. I’ve fallen twice already on the sets when the cameras weren’t rolling. Sometimes I think I’m a boy trapped in a girl’s body!” Some more full-throated laughter.

You won’t see her in too many Page 3 pictures because, when she’s in front of the paparazzi, she says, “A different persona comes over me. I’m not me-me. It feels weird posing like that, but it’s part of the job, so I do it.” She doesn’t mind the dressing up too much because she has stylists to do all the homework for her and pick the right clothes. “But sometimes it’s a pain; all you want to do is wear sweatpants and a big, baggy sweatshirt and go to the movies like that as opposed to wearing high-heeled shoes,” she admits. Still, the job demands it, so Ms Professional buckles down and does it.

Even if she doesn’t quite understand fashion (her assessment, not mine) and the pronouncements of the fashion police bewilder her. “They’ll be going, ‘Oh my god, that was gorgeous; it’s such an amazing fashion statement,’ and I’m looking at the girl and thinking, she doesn’t look good, she looked better in the simple outfit she was wearing earlier. Maybe I’m dumb but I don’t get that stuff. I’ve committed lots of fashion sins and hopefully they’ve forgiven me,” she giggles.

She doesn’t care much for the party circuit, either. She grew up in Goa; she’s more an outdoorsy beach girl than a party girl. She has never, repeat never, stepped into any of the clubs in Goa. But in Mumbai and for work, she makes some allowances. “I can do the social networking because it’s a professional requirement but I can’t do the whole party thing,” she declares. “I have an issue with people getting drunk around me; I have to get out of that situation. So I stay for an hour when everyone is sober but the minute everyone’s getting drunk, I’m out.”

Interesting strategy. So how does she deal with the, well, over-friendly types in the film industry, I ask. I think it’s an over-hyped situation,’ she replies, “this over-friendly, casting couch stuff.”

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