For Lara Dutta, essaying the role of Mrs Indira Gandhi in ‘Bell Bottom’ touched a personal chord. Her father, Wing Commander L.K. Dutta, who was with the Indian Air Force, flew the late prime minister whenever she would travel across the country on her official trips.
When Lara needed help with playing her character, she would turn to her father. “I had a personal reference point,” she said. “He gave me so many inputs on the way she would interact with people, her demeanour, that really helped me.”
But playing the late prime minister wasn’t easy. It took Dutta three hours to get transformed by star make-up artist Vikram Gaikwad each time she would shoot for a scene in character as Indira Gandhi and another hour to get out of it and becoming Lara Dutta again.
“We started off creating an entire mould of my face and then making prosthetic features,” Lara Dutta said in a conversation with IANS. “We did it as early as the end of June last year. We started working on just creating the prosthetic features and putting them together.”
Remembering the transformation, Lara said: “Getting her hairstyle, which was such an iconic part of her a getting all of that in place was quite an effort. Once everything was ready, it took me three hours to transform into Mrs Gandhi and about an hour before coming back to Lara.”
Apart from the look, Lara Dutta paid extra attention to Indira Gandhi’s body language. A lot of research went into it.
“Getting the look right and transforming into someone did play a very big part, yes, but once you kind of get the looking part out of the way, as an actor, the most important thing is to get the body language and voice right. A lot of homework went into that,” Lara said.
Lara Dutta continued: “Ranjit (Tewari), our director, would keep sending me videos of interviews of Mrs Gandhi so that we could focus on little things like her hand movements, her eyes, her reactions to situations. These are the things that make working as an actor worthwhile.”
Lara admitted she was nervous, as much as she was super excited, about playing Mrs Gandhi. “I was like, ‘how am I going to transform and play someone as iconic as her’, but we had an incredible make-up and prosthetic team led by Vikram Gaikwad.”
Unsurprisingly, Lara Dutta is content. She said: “I am happy with what I think I have done. For a change, I am pretty confident.”