In her nearly two-decade career, Lara Dutta Bhupathi played glamorous women who turned heads and even some hard-hitting roles, but never in her wildest dreams thought of playing the former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi. Her uncanny resemblance in the trailer of Bellbottom, which also features Akshay Kumar, Vaani Kapoor, and Huma Qureshi, stunned everyone and it didn’t take long for #LaraDutta to start trending on social media.
Dutta, who confessed during the trailer launch that she said yes to the film even before hearing the script, says that she did so because it was a great opportunity for her play such an iconic character. “This happens very rarely in an actor’s career. I don’t think any actor would have passed on this opportunity. I am just overwhelmed to see all the responses. The last three days have been just amazing. I have never received reactions like these both from the industry and fans, possibly ever in my career. My daughter saw me transform so she has been a part of the process. She along with Mahesh were ecstatic and has been a huge support system," she says.
Talking about her look, Dutta tells News18 that wearing prosthetic makeup every day on the sets took hours and she had to be quite tolerant. “It used to take me three hours every day. It required a lot of patience. After the shooting, it would take about an hour to remove all of it. The entire credit goes to Vikram Gaikwad and his team who did a fantastic job. Vikram made an entire mould of my face first and did all the prosthetics including the ageing process. Ms. Gandhi’s iconic hairstyle was a part of her personality and we had to get that right too.
The actor explains that there is a great responsibility when you’re portraying somebody who is an iconic figure like her, “Saying yes and getting the correct look is one thing and playing the character is totally a different ball game. I had to do complete justice to the role and give a performance that wouldn’t look caricaturish," Dutta explains adding that there was a lot of work that went into it, “Ranjit (Tewari, the director) sent me a lot of archival videos of Ms. Gandhi to watch and they were all about the different situations that she faced. Given the events that we are showing in the film and the situation that she was in at that time, I realised that she had a strong sense of what she thought was needed to be done. I needed to bring those nuances into the character. While watching the videos I made a lot of notes about her eye and hand movements, how she sat or got up and what is her tone of voice."
Not many are aware but the actor’s father, retired Wing Commander L.K. Dutta, was Indira Gandhi’s personal pilot. Dutta says she got lucky to get insights from her father, “My father was amused and at the same time intrigued when he came to know that I was playing this character. He was closely associated to him so I got glimpses that wasn’t in public knowledge. He has flown her many times and has interacted with her for many years. So he was like a treasure trove of reference as to how Ms. Gandhi was really like and how she carried herself and also the way she interacted with people. Like he told how Ms. Gandhi would manage her sari when she would climb into a helicopter or the way she would want to conduct her election rallies when she would fly from one destination to another. His assistance really allowed me to elevate my performance."
Apart from all the praises, social media also started comparisons between the actor and Kangana Ranaut, who is already working on a biographical drama on the life of former Prime Minister which that she would be directing it as well. Ask her about the comparisons and Dutta says, “I know she is doing a film but I don’t have any details about it. There have been many actors who have played Ms. Gandhi on screen in the past, and I am sure many will do it in the future as well. Each actor will bring their own reference to the character. I am sure Kangana is a brilliant actor and she will create her own version of Ms. Gandhi and it will be fantastic."