September 7, 2002 
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Jessae and Cleo lay claim to Bollywood
Two more models enter the Hindi film industry

What do Jessae Randhawa and Cleo Issacs have in common? Both are models. One famous for her shenanigans on the ramp, the other famous for her curves and her smile on television.

Both have had a shaky first step in Bollywood. Both are starting afresh.

Differences exist, too. Jessae --- tall, lissome, almost boyish, screams sensuality. Cleo --- curvy, sexy and definitely all woman.

Jessae began in a gritty Anurag Kashyap movie. Issacs makes her first move in the commercial Sanjay Gupta starrer Plan.

Now, the duo is confident about their innings in Bollywood. Arti R spoke to two of India's leading models who are making their way into Bollywood.

What make you think of moving from modelling to Bollywood?

Jessae: I have always enjoyed modelling. I had a lot of Bollywood offers but I was never interested in the typical running around trees. So when Anurag approached me, I agreed to do his film. It is very different from the run-of-the mill films. Besides, I have seen Paanch and have liked it. It is a very gritty, real film and the way he dealt with it made me really want to be a part of his next film.

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Cleo: I have done almost every campaign on the small screen. Films seemed a normal graduation. I had been getting good offers. When Sanjay Gupta approached me to do Plan, I decided I would do the film. I had seen the promotions of Kaante and was fascinated with the slick look and the promos of the film. I knew this would be a good film to launch my career.

How has the experience been?

Jessae: Modelling involves facing the camera. Films are not very different from that. The only difference is that on the ramp, you are yourself. In the movies, you play someone else. I did a screen test for Anurag Kashyap and I did an emotional scene. To get that right gave me a high, which is almost equal to that of being on the ramp. I knew then that I wanted to be in the movies. I will give my best shot when the film goes on the floors in November.

Jessae Cleo: Having done ad campaigns and a few music videos, I know the camera like the back of my hand. I am comfortable with it. Technically, I am also more competent having faced the camera. I took diction and acting classes.

I feel some amount of responsibility. After all, when such a reputed director signs you on, you feel the pressure of putting your best foot forward. But I know he has taken me on with a lot of confidence and I am going to try my best to give all of it back to him.

You have both had bad experiences in Bollywood...

Jessae: That is not something I want to talk about. I was ditched by a director who promised me a role in the film and then ran away with the money. I was very scared to work again. But when I met Anurag, I agreed almost immediately.

Cleo: I refuse to be taken for a ride. Being in the movies is not a do-or-die situation for me. If I feel that I am getting a raw deal, I'll walk out. The problem with Padam Kumar's Supari was that when I reached Canada, I realised that he had offered Kim Sharma the same role he had offered me. I patiently waited for him to explain himself. The setup was very unorganised and I waited for him to explain my contribution in the film and sort matters out. But that did not happen, so I walked out. It was a terrible time for me. I had to spend $400 for my ticket back to India.

What was terrible was having a filmmaker tell me to 'dress tame'. He told people that I was 'thrown off' the project. I spent time with my family to recuperate.

Why do you think so many models are doing films?

Jessae: These days, the industry wants people who are in shape. One can be slim, yet sexy, like Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman. Or Urmila Matondkar and Karisma Kapoor. Models don't have to be groomed. The girls already know their pluses and minuses. They look good and are technically comfortable in front of the camera.

Cleo Cleo: I agree. I am not starry-eyed, having been a model so long. Also, having burnt my fingers, I have learnt my lesson. I will work only with people who are honest with the script. My role in Plan is a small one --- I have a few scenes and two songs. After all, it is an action film. I play the romantic lead opposite Bikram Saluja.

Future plans?

Jessae: What I like about Anurag's film is that I am not changing myself. My hair stills remains short. Anurag didn't want me to take any diction or any acting classes. I am looking forward to establishing myself in the industry as myself. But I don't want to have the kind of stardom that some of our actors and actresses do --- they can't go to Juhu Chowpatty and eat out. I don't want to lose my privacy.

Cleo: I am open to all kinds of roles. Eventually, acting is about that. And I am looking forward to doing different kinds of films. I have always liked old Hindi films, which had more substance. I know I would never fit into the regular 9 to 5 job that I initially was doing in London, where I was modelling and working as a computer engineer. Modelling, and now acting, has definitely changed my life.


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