How Lara Dutta bagged the role of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Bell Bottom


Lara Dutta as Mrs Indira Gandhi in Bell Bottom

At the trailer launch of “Bell Bottom” on Tuesday, the media persons who were invited to cover the event were at a loss trying to figure out the character played by Lara Dutta in the 1980s set spy thriller, headlined by Akshay Kumar. The film’s trailer, which opens with a disclaimer, begins with an Indian airplane being hijacked with all of its passengers being taken hostage in 1984.

In the next scene, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is seen consulting with her advisors for a possible way to tackle the crisis. She is then referred to Kumar’s character, a RAW operative, code-name ”Bell Bottom”. The rest of the trailer focuses on the covert operation pulled off by his character.

During the press conference post the trailer launch, Dutta was asked about the character she portrays in the film. The actor initially asked members of the media to guess the character. “If anyone is able to guess, then I will take all their family members free to the theatres,” she promised. After much prodding, even by Kumar, Dutta said, “So you did see me in the trailer. I’m playing Mrs Indira Gandhi. That’s me.”

The former Miss Universe revealed that she received a call from the makers about playing the former PM in the movie. “All it took was a call and they said that Lara this film is being made and we are casting for Indira Gandhi”s role. It was before I heard the script…But yes, of course, there is a great responsibility when you’re portraying somebody who is an iconic figure like her,” she said.

It was a challenge to get the body language of the character right, added Dutta.

“As you all know that the film deals with a hijack situation that happened during her tenure. Given the dramatic events that were unfolding, she was somebody who was very centered and not prone to any dramatics. So it was important to portray her in that form.

“I had a great time. There was a lot of homework and research that went behind it. But it was an opportunity of a lifetime that I’m thankful for,” she added.

“Bell Bottom” also stars Vaani Kapoor and Huma Qureshi in key roles. Kapoor, who portrays the wife of Kumar”s character, said she was thrilled to get to shoot a movie during the pandemic. “My heart is full of gratitude. During the pandemic where so many people, including us, were not able to get out of our homes, I was lucky that I got to work. I’m grateful that he worked with me,” she said.

At the trailer launch that followed appropriate social distancing behaviour, Kumar urged fans to take utmost precautions to safeguard themselves.

“It’s been two years since I watched anything on the big screen. We have just been watching things on the TV. There is a different joy to eating food at a restaurant. How long will you keep getting home delivery?” he asked, referring to the films that sought a digital release in the wake of the theatre shutdown during the pandemic.

It is now time for people to come to the theatres, the actor said. “But at the same time, take precautions and safeguard yourself. Follow the guidelines mandated by the government, so that this can continue and I hope that theatres don’t close again,” Kumar added.

Directed by Ranjit M Tewari, “Bell Bottom” is produced by Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani, Deepshikha Deshmukh, Monisha Advani, Madhu Bhojwani and Nikkhil Advani. The movie will be released in theatres on August 19.

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