Just what does it take a supermodel who is only part Indian, has lived in Australia and the US to get her act right in Bollywood? For Lisa Haydon, who stars in Aisha, the answer is “learning to speak Hindi minus an accent!”
“Well I had to work a lot on my diction. I had to speak dialogues in Hindi, something I wasn’t comfortable with. So when I grabbed the role in Aisha, I started taking Hindi classes,” Haydon says.
“I am still continuing with my Hindi classes because I am still learning to speak it fluently minus an accent,” she said.
Apart from these classes, the model-turned-actor is also watching Bollywood movies to increase her knowledge of Indian cinema and, of course, to improve her fluency in the language.
“I grew up watching films like Taal, but these days I have been watching Hindi movies religiously to brush up my cinema knowledge and learn it as well,” she said.
“I always wanted to be an actor. But modelling happened first. So when I got this offer, I was way too happy because this was something I always wanted to do,” she added.
Aisha, which is her first Bollywood movie, will be released on August 6. Starring Sonam Kapoor and Abhay Deol in the lead roles, it is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma.
It was a stroke of luck that Haydon was spotted by Anil Kapoor, the producer of Aisha, at a coffee shop. He got in touch with her agency, Elite Model Management, and she got the role of Aarti Menon in the movie.
Talking about her character, Haydon said, “It is the role of a girl who has come back from New York and is the business partner of Arjun (Abhay Deol).
“She is part of this affluent crowd, but she was not born with a silver spoon. Aarti has made it this big with a lot of hard work. So she is this confident woman, who does get selfish at times,” she added.
Haydon was born in Chennai and has lived in Australia, India and the US. She started modelling at the age of 19 in Australia before moving to India in 2007 at the age of 21.
Ever since, she has walked the ramp several times and also featured in various commercials.
Though she admits that being natural in front of the camera comes easily for any model, she did take a three-month acting course in New York before the shooting for Aisha started.
“When I was selected for the role, I was nervous about my acting skills. So to be more comfortable in front of the camera, I went to an acting school in New York for three months and learnt ‘method acting’,” said Haydon.
So, what next after Aisha?
“I had read a few scripts, but I wasn’t happy with them. But I am sure something good will come out after the release of the movie. Right now what is taking most of my time is my Hindi classes,” said Haydon.
The actor also fears she could be typecast in similar glamorous roles.
“Yeah, there is always a chance of getting typecast in similar roles as people might feel that a girl is pretty and let’s give her similar roles. But I am sure the mindset will change once directors start having faith in their actors.
“It is the price one has to pay for being glamorous!”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2010.