She is sultry, often scantily clad and knows how to supply an endless stream of bytes in the 24*7 news cycle. From the eighth tattoo on her back, gossip about plastic surgeries and the MMS stories churned out by her PR machinery, Koena Mitra, the Bengali bombshell is a perfect example of courting the limelight through her sexual persona.
But Koena, who made her Bollywood debut with an item number in Ram Gopal Varma’s film Road, is shunning the raunch factor that made her a star. “There are only two kinds of roles that work in Bollywood, the sexy and the glamorous kind. I am looking for more depth,” says Koena, who has been living in Los Angeles for the past nine months, in an attempt to get a break in Hollywood.
“It was a risk that I had to take. You can’t attain anything without investing time. In Hollywood, one doesn’t bag a project over phone calls. You have to work hard, find a manager, give screen tests, attend workshops and take up voice training,” says Koena.
The move wasn’t without its share of difficulties. “I used to sit and do nothing but wait for a call. Over there, you don’t choose your managers, they choose you. I screen-tested three times,” she adds. Her perseverance and patience paid off, when she finally signed up for her Hollywood debut, Story of Naomi, alongside Kevin Sorbo, best known for films such as Bitch Slap and Fire Down Below. Michael Hirshenson of Harry Met Sally fame has produced the film, which is to release later this year in the US.
Buzz is that Koena’s character in the film is as a bisexual. After wooing men, is she now trying to get a female fan following too? “The news that I play a bisexual character appeared on a micro-blogging site, but that isn’t true. Just because the poster shows me standing with a female actor, doesn’t mean that I am bisexual in the film,” she maintains.
Ask her if her dusky complexion works against her and she says, “Dusky skin and black hair is considered exotic. It opens doors to multi-ethnic roles. But it only works as long as I don’t show up on the red carpet in a saree proclaiming my nationality,” she adds.
So, is she moving away from glamorous roles? “In Hollywood, one doesn’t get typecast. You can play a mother in one film and take up the role of a high school teenager in the next,” she says. But has she bid adieu to Bollywood? “No, I’m trying to be part of both Hollywood and Bollywood. I have to finish a couple of projects here and I’ll then return to LA to begin shooting for my second Hollywood project,” she signs off. TOI