Indian model gets philosophical about Bollywood

Movies are one arena where the otherwise successful Indian model-choreographer, VJ Achla Sachdev, has not been able to make a mark. But then, she says, there's a time for everything.

Here to lend glamour to a party hosted by the five-star Everest Hotel, Achla was superstitiously silent about a new southern Indian film she stars in.

While keeping her fingers crossed that the film will eventually see the light of day and establish her acting prowess, Achla says she'll be cool even if it doesn't.

"I have no more roles in Bollywood," Achla told IANS candidly, inhaling deep on a cigarette before readying for the gym.

Her debut film, the Meera Nair-directed "Kama Sutra" saw Achla play second fiddle to lesser-known models and her role was slashed to practically nothing.

She missed the chance to be noticed on the small screen when she said no to doing the acclaimed "Chhaiya Chhaiya" number in Mani Ratnam's "Dil Se", which ultimately went to Malaika Arora and became a smash hit.

Her last talked-about movie appearance was in the Hrithik Roshan-Esha Deol starrer "Na Tum Jano Na Hum", where she accepted a cameo. The role, unfortunately, failed to get her more offers of the kind she wanted.

But now Achla thinks she may have just found her break on the big screen - in the southern Indian film with a cast of newcomers that was shot mostly in Hyderabad.

Directed by a newcomer, Bala Parthasarathi, she says it is modelled on "Fatal Attraction" where she plays the second lead.

The storyline revolves round an obsessive pair. The hero is as obsessed with Achla as she is with him but they are ultimately parted by something that happens in his family.

"The plot is about something that could happen to anybody," says Achla. "But the film ends on a positive note. Instead of going berserk and killing people, she goes on a spiritual pursuit."

As for her experiences in Bollywood, she says: "After 'Na Tum Jano...', the roles that came my way were very foolish and stereotyped. I am not a bimbo. I have achieved all I wanted to.

"I wanted to be a model and became one, I have choreographed and VJed. I wanted to act in films and I have, even though the roles may not have been great. There's a time and phase for everything."

Right now, besides choreographing fashion shows in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Dubai, she is holding workshops for models all over India.

"The new Miss Indias are coming from all over the country," she says. "Places like Nashik, Nagpur... There's a lot of talent outside the metros, and it's they who need the training most before they come to Mumbai.

"It's not enough to be tall or have above average looks. You need to project yourself, you have to be willing to work hard, to learn everything about the industry and soak it up like a sponge. I am still learning myself."

That includes hard lessons as well.

One lesson Achla says she has learnt at the school of hard knocks is not to get into any more intellectual property deals.

In March 2001, she was supposed to have launched the Mrs India pageant. "I held a press conference to announce the project and then Maureen Wadia went ahead and did it," she claims.

"Though I still hold the copyright, there was nothing I could do. I am a simple girl, I can't fight bigwigs. I will never again plan such projects when our law is so full of loopholes."