Would it be right to call you an engineering student who got struck by glamour?
I was the head girl of my school and my subjects were Physics, Chemistry and Maths with Computer Science. So, it was always obvious that I will take up engineering. I wanted to become an aeronautical engineer and even cleared IIT and AIEEE (All India Engineering/Architecture Entrance Examination) after Class XII. But even before that, when I was 15, I had won Miss Teen India.I had a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders as I was also the girls’ basketball team captain. There were cultural activities as well. It was too much happening on my front and I had to take a call in one direction (pauses).
It’s all thanks to Blossom Kochhar and my mother -- it was sheer chance that I became Miss Teen India. We had gone to Delhi on a family vacation when we got to know about the contest being organised by former Miss World Diana Hayden. I wasn’t prepared at all. In fact I was the only girl to participate in jeans, flats and a long top. All the other girls, from across the country, were decked up in short dresses and they were all looking nice. Blossom asked me to go for it and I was amazed when they selected me.
What was your family’s reaction?
They were shocked and were like: "We had come here for some other purpose, hadn't we?"Soon after, I won Miss Asian Supermodel. I also won Miss Tourism World in 201 -- I was selected among 100 contestants from across the world.
You have won maximum number of titles...
Yes, in the entire pageant history, nobody has won as many titles as me.
Was your mother happy with the route you were taking?
My parents were happy and supportive of my decisions. I was a very committed and determined girl. Later, I won Miss Universe India in 2012 and now, I am Miss Universe India 2015. I am the only Indian so far to have won this prestigious title twice.
How was it when that title was taken away from you in 2012? There was a controversy about your age…
It was a very big controversy. I was 18 years old at the time of the pageant -- born on February 25, 1994. But according to Miss Universe pageant rule, all contestants have to be 18 by of the year concerned. So, I fell short by 24 days and couldn’t go for the international contest. But I am so very thankful to this beautiful lady Sushmita Sen who rooted for me and supported me as much as she could. I was her favourite. Having said that, the title was not taken away from me -- the crown, certificate, trophy, gifts… everything is here.
How did you deal with it?
Every situation has two sides-- the positive and the not-so-positive. The positive side was, at 18, I had competed and won against girls who were 25 and 26 years old. The not-so positive side was, I couldn’t represent my country on the world stage.
Were you happy with your debut film, Singh Saab The Great (2013)? IT didn't do well...
I was very happy because in my family, everyone is a huge Sunny Deol fan. He has won the National Award twice and I have immense respect for him. I’ve learnt a lot from him.
Even Sunny commented on your age; he said he doesn’t think you are 19...
(Laughs) Well, I was present at the interview and it was said in jest.
There was a big lull after your debut. What happened?
There was never a lull, actually. I landed in Mumbai in January 2013 and I bagged the film by February. It released in November, the same year. What more can a girl ask for? People wait for years to bag a film and then see its release. In 2014, I did this international music video with Yo Yo Honey Singh, which was helmed by Hollywood director Ben Peters. Then I did Daddy Mummy (item song in Bhaag Johnny, 2014) and followed it up with a Kannada film opposite South superstar Darshan. That film was a blockbuster. Soon after, I started shooting for Sanam Re which consumed a year. Then I did Great Grand Masti, which releases this July.
All I'm saying is there was a lull in your Bollywood assignments. We expected you to land lead roles after Singh Saab The Great. But you played the second lead in Sanam Re...
It was not a second lead. It was a love triangle.
The was promoted like it’s only a Pulkit Samrat-Yami Gautam project...
It's not in my capacity how to sell a film. The makers decide that.
Were you upset about not being a part of the promotional tours?
There were lots of rumours, but why will I be upset? It’s actually good to not be a part of the promotions; such exercises are so hectic.
You also said Pulkit was not ready to kiss you on-screen, but he was okay kissing Yami….
(Laughs) Those were all just rumours.But I would not like to comment on it as the film has already released and it's a big hit. In the end, it’s the outcome that matters. Also, I am not the sort of person who looks back. I am really happy, because Salman Khan personally texted me to say that he loved my performance in the film. My parents have always taught me to think big and these are all petty matters. Besides, even I don’t want to do kissing scenes.
Do you have a clause in your contracts that you won’t kiss?
I have not made it a clause, but….
Intimate scenes have become common in Bollywood…
I am not very comfortable with such stuff.
What’s your role in Great Grand Masti?
I play the female version of Ajay Devgn’s role in the first instalment, Masti (2004). It’s a huge responsibility. I play the girlfriend of all the three guys -- Riteish Deshmukh, Aftab Shivdasani and Vivek Oberoi -- and the story revolves around kis tarah se main unki band bajaati hoon. My director (Indra Kumar) says. ‘Urvashi, aap mere film ki hero ho’. It’s a very challenging role and I hope that people like it.
What’s your modus operandi? Are you going up to producers and directors seeking work?
Everything has been positive till now and I am sure Great Grand Masti will open more doors. It helped that Sanam Re was a hit. When a film becomes a hit, it becomes easier for the actors.
Are you in touch with Salman? Will he cast you in his film?
I would not like to disclose if he'll cast me in his film, but yes, I am in touch with Salman Khan.
What next after Great Grand Masti?
I have signed a 3-movie deal with T-Series (including Sanam Re), so I have 2 more projects left with them. Then there’s one film with Tips and a couple of films down South.