"SRK told me that Om Shanti Om was a tribute to my granduncle" - Vaishali Desai

By Devansh Patel, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Teen stars usually face a tough struggle to be taken seriously in Bollywood. But this chirpy, all smiles, young and beautiful teen, ready to be a queen in Bollywood wants to be taken seriously. Why? She has been a Miss India International, she has walked the ramp for India's top designers, and she has also worked in a commercial with SRK. What else do you want to hear about her experience? Oh, we forgot something! She has been associated with Bollywood ever since she was born. You'll soon find out by the end of the intro. She is also a proud gujju for making an entry in films like many of her contemporaries and like many other gujju's, she offered us some home cooked puri's (a gujarati snack) to eat. Vivek Sharma too grabs a bite and Remo the choreographer has one too. We loved it. But what we all loved was her confidence to grow big in Bollywood, come what may. On the sets of her first film, Kal Kissney Dekha, she is enjoying her new found status with all and sundry. She gives her shot, then wraps herself in a black gown, walks in her van and gets ready to unwrap the bottled water. She welcomes us to her vanity van with a warm smile and as she gets ready for her first ever interview, her mother too walks in. Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel gets you this exclusive interview with the Next Best Thing in Bollywood, Vaishali Desai, and when we shook hands, it was an honour...an honour to be sitting next to Late Shri Manmohan Desai's grandniece.

We want to know how you landed up in Bollywood.
I am from Bangalore. I've done my schooling and college from Bangalore. I've moved to Mumbai in 2005. I've done by B.A in psychology, wanted to be a psychiatrist but couldn't do so, wanted to pursue my M.B.A but couldn't do so because I started modelling. In 2005, I went for Miss India International. I was in the final ten and went for my pageant in Tokyo. After that, I did some television commercials for Ponds and Tanishq and the latest being Raymonds and Sun Feast with Shah Rukh Khan. I've also done music videos with Pradeep Sarkar for Euphoria. And lastly done fashion shows with India's top designers like Rohit Bal, Ritu Beri and Manish Malhotra and so on. I think that's about it (laughs).

I don't understand why models want to pursue films. Is it lack of money or dissatisfaction?
It's neither lack of money nor dissatisfaction. For models, the next step in their life has always been Bollywood. For me, because I've been from a film background, Manmohan Desai is my grand uncle, so may be somewhere that pull was there for me to come into this industry and films is a hobby for me. It's more of a passion.

Once you are well accepted in Bollywood, will you still be walking with the tag - Manmohan Desai ji's relative?
There are expectations. My entire family has been behind the cameras, right from direction to distribution. I'll be the first one to be in front of the camera (laughs). I don't know if I'll be carrying the tag of Manmohan Desai's grandniece all my life or till I'm here in Bollywood. But I just want to revive my banner back. I want to get MKD back into the picture.

Brief us a bit more about your kiddie years spent. Anything you remember of the genius Manmohan Desai?
He never liked us calling him 'dada'. So we used to call him 'Big Dad'. Regarding my interaction with him, it was never on films. I used to go to his house and I remember sitting on his 'golden jhula', the golden swing and talk to him. Though I have seen his Amar Akbar Anthony around 50 to 100 times, we never used to talk about his films. I've never been brought up in an environment which talked about films.

You must be aware about the fact that Om Shanti Om was kind of a tribute to Late Shri Manmohan Desai ji?
Yes I am aware of that fact and happy that he is still being remembered by the film industry. Not that he will ever be forgotten. Big Dad has always been Farah Khan's inspiration and I'm really proud about that. When I did the Sun Feast commercial with Shah Rukh Khan, he came up to me, as he is a thorough gentleman, spoke to me about Big Dad and how Om Shanti Om was a tribute to this great filmmaker.

Let's talk about another thorough gentleman with whom you're working right now, the new comer, Jacky Bhagnani.
We hit it off on the first day itself. We are good friends and supportive of each other. We are also good critics to each other. If I am not doing a scene properly, he'll come up to me and tell me and vice versa. Jacky is very hard working, has worked a lot on himself and is passionate about cinema. I can keep talking about Jacky Bhagnani, on and on and on (laughs).

Do you think you are in safe hands of Vivek Sharma who is only one film old?
Yes I do feel safe with Vivek Sharma. Before I was roped in for Kal Kissney Dekha, I had a lot of offers for films but somehow did not capitalise. Vivekji was the first person I met regarding films and he told me that he will be the person to launch me. Four years down the line I am being launched in a Vivek Sharma film. Now you can call this destiny or 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' (laughs)

Are you a proud Gujarati and happy about so many gujju's hitting it big in Bollywood off late?
(Laughs) I am so proud of the fact that I am a Gujarati. Of course, I don't speak Gujarati is a different thing but yeah, Prachi Desai, Himesh Reshammiya, myself and you too being a gujarati journalist. Welcome to the elite club of gujju's (laughs).

Who has been your inspiration?
Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Rekha, Madhubala and my mom.

Speaking of mom, do you at all worry about the fact that your mother accompanies you wherever you go?
Initially, my mom was apprehensive about accompanying me on the sets but right from my modelling days, I've always wanted my mom to be with me. I wanted her. It's not that mom wanted to be with me wherever I go. Though my mother has seen everything, she is the most disconnected person from films. For me and I'm sure for all, family comes first. It's a personal choice.

Where do you go from Kal Kissney Dekha?
I have to go on the sets after this (laughs). Seriously speaking, I am looking at a bright future ahead of me. Big films, big directors, big banners, not just the dancing around, good character roles. I am even open to regional films, and why not. If given an opportunity, I will do a Gujarati film too. I know how to read the language (laughs).

Any New Year resolutions?
When I was young, I used to make resolutions. But I can talk about celebrations. I am going to celebrate New Year on the sets, hopefully or will be with my family. I don't party that much.

As I ask all the models, will you go back to the ramp now?
Yes, but as a show stopper (laughs).

Which director would you like to work with in the near future?
Steven Spielberg (laughs) and I am not being diplomatic. I would love to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

You best film excluding all Manmohan Desai films.
Veer Zara

Favourite actor
Shah Rukh Khan. I'd love to work with him in films, now that I've got an experience working with him in a commercial.

Favourite actress
Madhuri Dixit.

You're too fair to become a Bollywood actress?
(Laughs) I knew that was coming. Actually, we Indians have a fetish with fair skin. I prefer girls who are dark skinned. I look good but don't have great features.

I think I missed on the most important question. What's Kal Kisne Dekha all about?
The film is a suspense thriller. It's got comedy, romance and I think after a long time our industry is going to see an out an out college campus film. I wouldn't say the film is different but yes, something to look forward to, with good songs and the USP like Jacky and me (laughs).

Any message for your going-to-be-fans?
I'd like say - Have a never-say-die-attitude. Think positive. Be positive.

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