How different is ‘Short Kut – The Con Is On’ from the Bollywood-themed films that we have seen recently?

Oh, very different actually. Most films you’ve seen in the recent past, be it ‘Om Shanti Om’ or ‘Dhoonte Reh Jaoge’, have been spoofs on Bollywood.

‘Short Kut’ on the other hand, while is a very funny film, is far from a spoof. It’s a light look at this mad, colourful world we call Bollywood.

So you have your endearing characters like Chunky Pandey who plays an acting coach but in reality is a terrible actor! You have me you plays a superstar to the hilt, you have Arshad who plays the popular star but horrid actor.

So in a way 'Short Kut' takes a close look at all these stereotypes and presents them in a lighter vein.

What is Mansi, your character in ‘Short Kut ’, all about?

Well, when I first heard about Mansi’s character, I felt I could identify with her. She’s a very strong headed girl, who can go to any length for her man, IF she believes in him. She’s popular, dedicated to her art and takes her superstar status very seriously.

But on the other hand Mansi is this ultra glam diva, which in reality I’m so not! I’m most comfortable when I don’t have to do my hair, can laze around in my jeans and tees. But Mansi is the heart of the film, she brings in a certain grace to this otherwise madcap film!

Manish Malhotra has successfully transformed several actresses, including Karisma, Urmila, Rani, on screen. What magic has he worked with you?

Oh! You need to take ONE look at my pictures from the film and you’ll know!

Manish is such a visionary, he had this focused idea for my character in the film, and he’s been able to translate it beautifully.

I know the audience still remembers me as the beautiful and traditional Poonam from ‘Vivaah’. But after ‘Short Kut’ I’m sure they’ll remember me as the firebrand Mansi. And all credit for that should go to Manish.

He’s styled my hair, my makeup so differently! In ‘Short Kut’ you will see me wearing it all, right from bikini tops, to the big glam hair, to the sultry eyes, to the IT accessories. And boy, am I glad I could work with Manish after I saw the final look!

In today’s Bollywood, do you think sexy is what works?

(Thinks) Well, I wouldn’t say that. Yes, actresses today need to maintain a certain level of class, which is not to say that actresses of the yore were any less!

But today even us heroines are so much more exposed to global trends, styles. So I guess we tend to be more in tune with what’s in and what’s not. But ultimately being sexy on screen or not is entirely dependent on the role you play.

If you take my films in the past, I have looked glamorous when needed and have gone low-key like I did in ‘Sajjanpur’. I strongly believe that the audience will accept you, whether you look sexy or not, as long as your character is believable and you manage to touch hearts with your acting.

Is this role another conscious attempt on your part to break away from the homely image that you have been identified with till now?

Well, to be honest with you, I did this film solely because I simply loved the script. That it gives me a chance to look like never before is just an added bonus I guess!

Yes, I know I’m viewed as a simple girl but I’d like to believe that’s because of the kind of roles that have gotten me all these accolades over the years. But now I want audiences the world over to know that there’s another side to me as well!

And this side is as true to me as the other one was… The fact that it makes me look sexy I think is just incidental (smiles).

Your USP has been your girl-next-door image and all the films where you’ve experimented with change have not worked. Are you confident fans will like you in your sexy new avatar in ‘Short Kut’?

(Laughs) I sure hope so! Well, I really believe that there never is just one reason why a film flops or becomes a hit at the box office. It’s always a host of reasons behind the ultimate fate of a film. So to simply blame my change in image would be a tad unfair I think!

But yes, I have full faith in ‘Short Kut’ as a film. I think it has everything to make it a runaway success. It’s got Arshad at his comic best. It’s got Akshaye who’s looking so good. The songs are great. We’ve shot in some beautiful locations in Bangkok. And it’s got me! So I’m sure the viewers will see all of this and decide whether this film works or not…

As far as my sexy avatar is concerned, until now whoever has seen the images has just loved them! So I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Fashion police has often been critical of your dressing. Following this makeover, what’s your message to them?

I take all the criticism that comes to me with respect and believe it’s all constructive. All I can say is that we actresses are human after all! And sometimes we tend to get so caught up in our shoots that we just don’t get the time to don the best look and head out. But after working with Manish I will definitely have become more conscious of what works for me and what doesn’t. So watch out for me! (smiles)

You haven’t done too many comedies in your career. How difficult/easy has ‘Short Kut’ been, especially since your co-stars, Akshaye Khanna and Arshad Warsi, are veterans in comedy?

Well that’s not true! I have done comedies like ‘Main Hoon Na’ in the past. I think even ‘Ishq Vishk’ can be termed as a comedy in some respect. But yes, I haven’t been the one doing all the comic scenes.

Well in ‘Short Kut’ too, I add the drama to the film I’d say. And all the comedy that happens, happens around me. And yes, watching Arshad and Akshaye has been an absolute treat! In fact, I was just telling someone the other day, after ‘Short Kut’ people will forget that Arshad played Circuit ‘coz he’ll be known as Chandu! He’s superb in the film!

You pairing with Akshaye Khanna is fresh. How was the experience of working with the actor who’s often described as very moody?

You know I never really understood why people label Akshaye as moody! With me he was forever up to some or the other mischief on the sets. He would constantly pull my leg about how much time I take to get ready and how I keep him waiting! (laughs).

But yes, I believe we really look good together. In fact, the romantic track that we have together in the film (‘Kal 9 Baje’) is one of my favourite tracks from the album.

We shot on some virgin locations in Thailand and they’re turned out very well on screen.

After watching the two of us I did wonder as to why we haven’t been paired together earlier… He’s a brilliant performer and I got to learn a lot from him. And the fact that he’s such a cutie is just an added bonus I guess!! (smiles)

How was Anil Kapoor as a producer?

Oh, brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! He’s been one of the most giving producers I’ve ever worked with. I think it stems from the fact that he is an actor himself. So he understands an actor’s needs, wants, comforts…

Not once did I feel that I’m stressed on the sets. He would always ensure that we stayed in the most lavish of places, left no stone unturned to make the sets look fabulous. And at the same time he would give us all the creative freedom an actor would ever need.
I’ve truly been spoilt after working with him!

How was the experience of showcasing ‘Short Kut’ at an international platform like the IIFA Weekend 2009?

Oh it was so nostalgic! We finished shooting ‘Short Kut’ in December last year I think after which the film was in post-production and then the strike happened so we couldn’t release it. So I met everyone after so long! It felt like one big party.

Going to the IIFA itself is an honour. Showcasing the film there is an even bigger one!

I guess when they say whatever happens, happens for the best, it’s true. Had ‘Short Kut’ released earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to make it to the IIFA which is such a big platform. So in a way it all worked out in the end!