Interviewer: Inian & Daya | Camera: P. Ganesh Babu | Text: Daya
From girl-next-door to bikini bombshell, Lakshmi Rai has come a long way. Though her initial films did not do well at the B.O. the leggy lass sure got noticed. Hers has been a steady rise to fame cemented by Dhaam Dhoom where she played a lawyer.

She has had a fair share of rumors though what put the media on overdrive was her link-up with Indian Cricket Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Her bike rides with him made headlines and speculations about a brewing marriage. We quiz her on Dhoni, her no-holds barred bold onscreen attitudes and more.


BW:
How did you get your break?

Lakshmi Rai: I was a model to begin with and later enrolled myself in an acting school. After completing my course, I won Miss Karnataka crown which fetched me a role in a Kannada film with Rajkumar’s son. When I was doing it, I got an offer in Karka Kasadara and I just continued.

You have worked in different languages, which industries do you think you really fit in?

Undoubtedly, it is the Tamil industry as I have many projects here. I have also done many films here and this industry is the one that has brought me recognition. After this only, I became popular and a star in Malayalam film industry.

You have done a lot of glamour? Will you go beyond this?


Well, if a character needs ultra-glamour, I will definitely do it. However, I will not do glamour just for the sake of glamour. I will do as much glamour as a role requires and not cross my limits.

How comfortable are you doing intimate scenes?

" I will not do glamour

just for the sake

of glamour "


If my character demands it, say to kiss my co-star or anybody and it’s a deep love story, I will do it. The comfort level has to be created and the kissing scenes cannot be shot on the first day of the shoot. If the director feels that a particular scene is needed, there must be good chemistry which needs to be worked between the pair in question. And that’s when the scene would turn out well. If the character demands, there is nothing wrong and I am open to doing such scenes.

You have been the target of a lot of gossip. How do you react to this?

" Gossip is unavoidable

in this profession "


Gossip is unavoidable in this profession. There will be some gossip today and something tomorrow, one must listen to it with one ear and let it out through the other. It’s part and parcel of this industry and I don’t react to it. It’s only me and the person who is linked (with me) will know the truth. I am used to all these now. When you say Lakshmi Rai, there will be a lot of gossip. Once you become a star and are known, there will be gossip.


Can you say something about your relationship with Dhoni?


Dhoni and I are friends. I am an actress and he is the Indian cricket team’s captain. Dhoni is a national figure and I am a popular figure. So linking both of us is news that sells. He has been linked with many people but the names have not been repeated, but in my case it has been repeated and this is a selling point for the media. It’s just to create an attention. Some people in the audience will believe it and some won’t. We tell the truth but if they don’t believe it, what can be done? We have nothing in our hearts.

" Dhoni is a national figure

and I am a popular figure "


You are from a non-filmi background. How does your family react to all this gossip?

My family is completely non-filmi and conservative. Initially they were taking rumors too seriously. It was my duty to convince them that this was part of my profession. Soon, they got used to it. Only my family knows what I am doing and where I am, they don’t believe in outside news. But it is only natural for any parent to become anxious about these things. They do feel insecure sometimes but realize that I am not the only one who is targeted and there are also other actresses who are at the receiving end. Bollywood is all about rumors and it happens only when you are famous. So every industry has gossips and rumors but it depends on one’s mentality in taking it. My parents know what I am and they trust in me. Without their knowledge I will not do anything.

How was the experience working with Jeeva in Dhaam Dhoom?

Firstly, I would like to say he was amazing, fantastic and it was an unforgettable experience working with him. He was so professional, dedicated and is extremely motivating. While shooting he is a different person and while not shooting he is completely different. He used to tell me never to club friendship and professionalism. While shooting, he kept friendship aside as he wanted the best output. It’s very sad we lost him. I still can’t believe it; it’s a very great loss for the industry.

What about the Number 1 dancer tag?

I don’t know about this. I dance well and it’s up to the audience to say whether we are good dancers or bad dancers. As a dancer I feel I am ok and do my best.

Will you do item numbers?

No.


Tell us something about your role in Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

" You need energy,

stamina and strength

to ride a horse "


I wanted to do something different as I want every film of mine to be different. My audience should enjoy them. When director Simbu Devan told me the story of Irumbukottai Murattu Singam where I will be in a cowboy getup, I found it good and agreed. My character has developed a lot and gained importance and you will realize this when you see the film. The film has been shot with a brownish tone that gives it a Hollywood look. It’s an action film and I play a brave bold girl. I learnt to ride a horse and this is not an easy joke. It looks easy, but there are so many things to learn. You need energy, stamina and strength to ride a horse. The horse is not in our control and there must be perfect understanding

between the horse and the rider. You can’t change horses in the film and have to use the same one throughout. There were plenty of riding and chasing scenes. The first few days I had a lot of body pain. This film is one of those with sky- high expectations this year and has been shot like an English film. It’s very good and has a fun theme.

Your first few films did not do well. Did you think of quitting at that point?


My aim was to be a good actress in the Tamil industry and not to become famous. When you give your best you become famous. My aim was not to earn, I was born with a golden spoon and money was not important. My first few films did not give me recognition. Karka Kasadara was a not a bad film, it was a good entry. However after that I made wrong film choices but had belief in myself. I took a break of six months before Dhaam Dhoom and this was like a re-launch. I had a strong gut feeling and a resolve that I would only do a good film. I want to earn a name as a good actress.

" When you give your best

you become famous "


Heroines today are more of an eye candy. What do you think of this trend?

The generation is changing and people who are making films are trying something new. Everyone is making films that have everything for everyone.

Did you make any specific preparations before wearing a bikini?

" You can’t wear a bikini

just like that "


You can’t wear a bikini just like that. When the director told me about it, he told me to be prepared. You have to plan to carry it off well. For my type of body, everything in my wardrobe looks good but to sport a bikini, I had to lose weight. I prepared by working out and toning my body. For a bikini shot, you really need to be confident.


Tell us something about Jai as he was your costar in Vaamanan?


The first day Jai was very formal and reserved. But soon, he became friendly and it was like we had known each other for years. He has given two big hits like Chennai 600 028 and Subramaniapuram but has no attitude whatsoever. He makes you feel very comfortable and we were good friends working together. I enjoyed Jai’s company and we had a rollicking time on the sets.

" I enjoyed Jai’s company "

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