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Summing up Manisha Koirala in one word seems nearly impossible, but enigmatic comes pretty darn close.

The actress has got, in her own words, "severe flak" for the tawdry films she's been embarrassingly seen in over the last few years.

Still, sitting next to her, it's hard not to be taken in by the warm, all-encompassing smile.

After prattling merrily about how the "fabulous" skirt she is wearing was a bargain picked up in Goa, Manisha talks about being a film student, a wannabe scriptwriter, and Kamal Haasan's heroine in Mumbai Xpress. Excerpts:

My Mumbai Xpress character is called Ahilya, and she used to be a bar dancer. Her ambition in life is to be a housewife, a good mother, a 'wife-type' character. But this is something she isn't.

We weren't trying to do comedy. Both Kamalji and Om Puri ji are phenomenal in comedy, but the best part about Mumbai Xpress is that it's not slapstick, mimicry kind of comedy. So you are acting out the character seriously, you're performing it naturally.

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Text: Raja Sen | Design: Uday Kuckian

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