The 16 hours of detention at the Mumbai airport for allegedly carrying undeclared jewellery were harrowing but actress Minissha Lamba says the authorities were "very, very, friendly" and the time was spent chatting about various things, including her experience at Cannes.
"We had a very lively 16-hour session," said the Well Done Abba actress.
"What can I say? I had the choice of either sitting and crying or trying to make the best of a bizarre situation. Guess what I chose to do? I took a chill-pill," she told IANS.
Minissha, who had told the customs authorities that the jewellery was given to her to wear at Cannes by Anmol Jewellers, describes her detention on May 18 as "a molehill blown up into a mountain".
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What really happened?
A: It was just a minor discrepancy in my papers for the jewellery. I'm just so shocked by the monstrous proportions that the incident acquired.
Q: Is it true you were detained the whole night at the airport?
A: I was detained for 16 hours. That, if I may say so, was completely unnecessary in a case like this. However, if my papers were not in order because of a minor technicality then the authorities were totally within their right to detain me. We've to go by the book. No complaints about it.
Q: Did you really have undeclared diamonds worth Rs.40 lakh?
A: Definitely not that much. The value was much much less. I can't tell you how much because it involves a legality. I had the paperwork to authenticate it.
Q: So why did they detain you?
A: A minor glitch.I don't want to go into who was responsible for it.
Q: Were the airport authorities civil with you?
A: Very very friendly. They served me the most amazing food and were constantly cracking jokes to ease my nervousness. I ended up regaling them with my experiences at Cannes. They talked about their experiences with celebrities. We had a very lively 16-hour session.
Q: You're making it sound like a party!
A: What can I say? I had the choice of either sitting and crying or trying to make the best of a bizarre situation. Guess what I chose to do? I took a chill-pill.
They were very civil. The whole thing was done quietly and with great dignity. I am sure they've encountered worse offenders than me. I'm just a little sheep that inadvertently got caught up in a situation.
Q: Did you have a relative accompanying you?
A: You know I am a very independent girl. I didn't even want to inform my parents about it when it happened. In any case my phone was taken from me. I wasn't allowed to use it. I didn't want to cause any worry for my parents. I didn't know it the incident had already gone out.
Q: Was it harrowing?
A: Yes, because a molehill was blown up into a mountain. There I was, I had just landed from Cannes, jetlagged and groggy. I just wanted to get home and sleep. Little did I know what was in store for me. Life is full of surprises. Earlier during the trip I lost my baggage at the Nice airport.
Q: Kissne ki yeh 'Nice' harkat (Who did it at Nice?)?
A: (laughs) I've gone through so much during the trip. I told god if you've more in store bring it in now, let's get it out of the way.
Q: So how did you manage to dress so well at Cannes?
A: The baggage was lost on my way back. Thank god for that. And I didn't lose too many valuables.
Q: How was Cannes?
A: I had gone to attend the premiere of the new Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris". I couldn't meet him. But his management told me that they're looking seriously at Indian cinema. I met a lot of people from the international movie community.
Q: Has the controversy shaken you?
A: I think I got into the controversy by default. This is the accidental controversy in my life. It's one of those life-experiences.
Q: Looks like Cannes doesn't suit you?
A: On the contrary the experience has made me a stronger human being. I think I'll go every year now.