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July 27, 1998


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Mrudula Rajyadhaksha

Tina Sequeira. Click for bigger pic!
I didn't come here with stars in my eyes," says Tina Sequeira. She came, she says, with her eyes open. But when she came to meet us, she took her time. And ours. All of 40 minutes.

She blames it vaguely on traffic jams. A fellow journalist who had met her earlier had waited only half-an-hour. Maybe she's trying to tell us that she's already the star she yet isn't.

Anyway, we swallow our annoyance and sit down for a chat with this fair girl, who, we hazard, cannot be over 5' 6". She's quite pretty, though not really beautiful. But, clad in black woollens and blue parallels, her hair tied behind with a red band, she looks heroine material -- at least second class if not quite top drawer.

After giving her a thorough visual going-over, we asked her the first obvious question: Why did she join films. Whereupon she gave the reply we put down earlier and went on:

"I don't have any film background. If asked, my father says I'm professional. He never reveals which profession. But glamour can't affect me. They (her parents) put a condition that I would have to finish my graduation before I did whatever I wanted. And so, to improve my verbal skills and just for the fun of it, I joined Kishore Namit Kapoor's school where Ramesh Sharma spotted me."

We're surprised when she tells us she doesn't know that Kishore Namit Kapoor's classes have often been stepping stones to a film aspirants. And we aren't quite sure if we ought to believe it.

Producer Ramesh Sharma launched Tina in Aakrosh, starring Sunil Shetty and Shilpa Shetty. The song, Hello Hello Bolke, in which she appeared, was very popular. She says that since it was an action film, most of the light and romantic portions were chopped off in editing.

Click for bigger pic!
Pure bilge, roars Latif Binny, who directed her in Aakrosh.

"She's such a bad actress! She was thrown down my throat by the producer! I had to take her in the film under pressure. And no, I didn't chop off her part. She wasn't given any scenes besides that song. She's lying about heavy editing of her scenes."

But she does have quite a few roles, in Raju Mavani's Iski Topi Uske Sar, Mahesh Bhatt's Kartoos, Firoz Nadiadwala's Aag Hi Aag, T L V Prasad's untitled film and Rajan Johri's Student.

Since the shooting for a small portion of Student is complete, we ask director Rajan Johri about her.

"Tina's a very good actress. I rate her between Smita and Urmila," he says. That negates, to some degree at least, what Latif Binny had to say.

With Sunil Shetty in Aakrosh. Click for bigger pic!
In Mahesh Bhatt's Kartoos, she plays one vertex in a triangle which doubles up as a merry-go-round. She loves Sanjay Dutt who loves Manisha Koirala... That kind of thing. She says Mahesh Bhatt is a different director, in the sense that he really takes the trouble to sit down with an artist and explain the character.

"Others are more or less just the same," she says, brushing away the rest with a wave of a dainty hand.

In Firoz Nadiwala's Aag Hi Aag she says she has an important role.

"It has a negative shade but it's not a vamp's role. Wait and watch."

How long will that be, we inquire. And she says by the end of August, the film should be out.

Tina's had an easier time getting films than many other newcomers.

"After Aakrosh, Ramesh Sharma recommended me to Raju Mavani. After Iski Topi Uske Sir, Rajuji recommended me to someone else... You know, that way. It has been easier so far." She hopes in future too things go the same way.

Her ambition is to do good films, it not immediately then at least a few years later, when she will be taken more seriously.

''I don't believe in the numbers games. But when the history of Hindi films is written, my name will be there. That's too ambitious. Maybe."

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So who then are her icons?

"I like Hema Malini and Sridevi. Give them any role with no head or tail to it, put them in any situation, they look so convincingly. I think, that's more difficult, than Shabana Azmi doing an art film without make up. You work with talented directors with so much research got into the role."

Matter of opinions! What does she think of exposing on the screen? Comes the answer. "I've set my circuits and won't cross them. I don't mind showing cleavage or wearing short skirts on the screen." So what won't she do?

"I can never wear a bikini. I'm very conscious about showing midriff."

We inquire if she has a beau, someone close to her. Tina shakes her head.

"No, no boyfriend. I'm not saying I haven't been infatuated with anyone, but certainly there hasn't been any commitment made. I do not want any hurdles. I want to reach my goal. And it's like carrying 60 kg on my back when you have a boyfriend." She laughs. "I'm a very organised person and I'm planning my career carefully."

And what is the image she seeks to have? She thinks a moment.

"Hmm... I don't want to be a doll. I want to have a vibrant, youthful image, that of modern Indian woman who has her own mind and values."

Well, there you have Tina.

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