Mumbai,CHAYA UNNIKRISHNAN: She always wanted to be an actress, but life had something else in store for her. Waluscha De Sousa, who made it big as a model, fell in love, got married at the age of 19 and vanished from the fashion scene. And now, after three children and a divorce behind her, this pretty woman has made her Bollywood debut with Fan opposite Shah Rukh Khan at the age of 33. She is in only a few scenes in the film, but Waluscha is undeterred. The fact that she is acting in films and that too opposite SRK is a dream-come-true for the actress. With a spirited attitude, optimistic outlook and confidence, the actress is all set to take on more work. Over to Waluscha…
What kind of response have you got for your role in Fan?
It’s been overwhelming. A lot of people have been calling and telling me I have performed well.
Have you spoken to Gauri Khan?
No, I haven’t had the pleasure of talking to her. I do know her socially, but we haven’t really sat down and had a conversation.
Did you not talk to her to prep for the role as you played Shah Rukh Khan’s wife in the film?
The thing is Maneesh (Sharma, director) talked to me a lot about Gauri being a strong woman and that she and SRK have a lot of love between them. He took me through their journey and how Gauri is completely in love with him, and is also the backbone behind everything. When I had to play this character I had to keep in mind that the two are tremendously in love with each other, and stay strong through difficult times.
How have your children reacted to you acting on screen?
Suddenly, I am this star for them (laughs). For children, their mother is a star no matter what. It was a great experience sitting with my family and close friends, cheering and whistling for me. I hold this experience dear to me. Working with all these stalwarts has been a dream come true. It will always be close to my heart.
Tell me about your first day on the sets?
Honestly, it was an intimidating experience. There are so many people on the set and you have this huge responsibility. Though I had done TV commercials with Shah Rukh before, I was very nervous while shooting my first scene. I had to wear this skimpy, satin night gown, run into Shah Rukh’s arms and hug him. Initially, I was to wear a bathrobe over the gown, but since my character is shown sleeping before SRK walks in, we decided against it. I was so nervous that we ended up doing the scene several times and I started feeling embarrassed. Shah Rukh then gave me pointers on how I could approach the scene and I felt better.
Did you find the scene where Shah Rukh takes you into the library and starts breaking things difficult?
Yes, that entire scene from the time he comes back home and I don’t know it’s Gaurav, was challenging. It’s only when I hug him that I realise his body is not my husband’s. Still, I had to look at him with love and in my head I know it’s not him. That was the most difficult scene. Also, Gauri is not one of those women who go berserk, so I calmly go to the bedroom where my gun is. You never see her panicking — even when she goes with Gaurav to the library to see the trophies. She knows this man is crazy and is even feeling sorry for him. She also knows her kids are up in the room and needs to keep it together. Keeping all those emotions in mind and performing was challenging.
Which commercials have you done with Shah Rukh?
I had done a Pepsi ad with him many years ago and did the Hyundai ad just two months before Fan. Post the film too, we have shot for a print ad together which is not yet out.
Is SRK different when he’s shooting a commercial than he is during a film?
Yes, it’s completely different. When he is shooting an ad, he’s a lot more busy as he is moving from set to set. His manager tells him he has half-an-hour to wrap up the shoot and move to the next. Despite this, he is much at ease and we interact a lot, talk about his children, etc. The atmosphere is lighter. But on a film set, he is completely into the character. The way he transformed himself into Garuav in the film was amazing. He was feeling those scenes, the way he stood, spoke, his body language even when the camera wasn’t rolling was great. I gave him his space and didn’t want to intrude.
You made your Bollywood debut at 33. Don’t you think you should have forayed into acting earlier?
I was always passionate about films, but everybody knows my life took a different turn altogether. Films did come my way then, but I was busy with my family. It wasn’t the right time for me. Now, personally it’s the perfect time for me to be entering films. The industry has changed so much — they are looking for talent and not bothered about whether she is married, divorced, has babies, etc. We have come really far and people are only concerned with the character being portrayed and not the actor’s life — present or past.
What kind of roles are you expecting now?
I have no expectations at this time, but anything that is character appropriate. I am hoping to get work and do justice to it. See Nargis Fakhri and Aditi Rao Hydari (they made their Bolly debuts in their 30s), they are beautiful, are looking fabulous and doing some great work. Last thing people want to know is how old these women are!
Till now, all my energies were focussed on Fan. I am still in that phase where I want to know what people have to say about me. Yes, I am talking to a couple of filmmakers and there is something very close to happening, but I will talk about it later.