India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
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

Hang on, I didn’t quite say casting couch, I butt in, but she argues, “Yeah, but it’s all varying degrees of the same thing if we’re talking over-friendliness, isn’t it?” Sure, go on, I say. “It happens if you encourage that kind of behaviour. I make sure people know what their limit is and that they don’t cross that line. I’d rather leave the industry if the norm were to be ‘friendly’. Yes, some people have their fun but it’s mutual. In any case, it happens everywhere. Actually, far worse happens in other industries.”

In fact, the people she’s worked in with in the Hindi film industry have been far from sleazy, she says. Anurag Basu, her Barfi director, is one she’s particularly fond of. “He’s really nice; a big bear brother of a person. He used to tell me, ‘You work so hard…chill, man, go get a life, get a couple of boyfriends!’” Co-star Ranbir Kapoor is another favourite. “I’d read so much about how he was a so-called Casanova, but it’s utter rubbish. He’s an incredibly decent guy and a very intense person. We had some very interesting conversations. He can be goofy too; there were a lot of pranks on sets when he was around.”

Saif Ali Khan, her Happy Ending co-star, is equally, if differently, ‘goofy’ (a word she uses often). To begin with, she decided to give him his space and kept her distance. “But he thought I was being incredibly formal with him and one day, he came up to me and said, (imitating him) ‘Why can’t we just be friends?’ He’s very generous as a person and wants you to have fun on the sets. Half the time he would go, ‘Enough of working, let’s all go out.’ He’s very childlike; in some ways he’s like a child in a man’s body.”

Happy Ending had some happy times for her, even if it bombed at the b-o. It even had a small cameo by Andrew Kneebone, the Australian boyfriend-she-won’t talk-about-to-the-press. She has no problems posting pictures of him on Instagram with gushy captions, she features upfront on his webpage (he’s a photographer); they attend events together. But her lips are zipped when a recorder or press camera is rolling. There’s been much speculation that the big rock she sports is an engagement ring, but say so, and first, she asks in a faux flat tone, “What about my ring?” Then she says, laughing now, but not giving in, “Everyone said it’s a beautiful ring and I agree.”

I let it go. Why would anyone want to push a young, happening actress into marriage or an engagement or talking about either, if she doesn’t want to? Not talking about a boyfriend is one unwritten Bollywood rule Ileana is following; let’s leave her to it.

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