From telephone operator to actress
As former beauty queen Diana Hayden makes her debut as a Bollywood actress, she will never forget the time when she did many odd jobs.
After all, she had dropped out of school and taken up a job when she was 14. From being a telephone operator to a secretary, office assistant, assistant designer of clothing, event manager and choreographer, Diana has
done it all.
Now she has her first full-fledged Bollywood role in Ab Bas!, an out and out women-oriented film.
"I always wanted to be a part of the set-up and not just a lamppost!" Diana told IANS in an interview. "When this film came along through my business manager, I could feel the bells ringing in my mind.
"I play a model, lover, housewife and mother. There's an estranged relationship. The film is a dream role for any aspiring actress and I feel it to be the best launching pad that can ever happen."
Ab Bas! is her debut film and co-stars Shawar Ali. She had a cameo role in Khalid Mohammed's Tehzeeb.
What made her choose this film as her debut vehicle? Ever since winning the Miss India and Miss World titles in 1997, she wanted to be an actress.
But being committed as a beauty ambassadress, she had to wait. During her stay in Britain, she took acting lessons in London and groomed herself.
She hails from a conservative Christian family in Hyderabad. After winning the Miss World title in 1997, Diana almost disappeared from the Mumbai scene and settled in London
"I was under a contract with Miss World and they had a clause that I had to do charity for two years," explains Diana.
She learnt acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She refused acting offers as she was not ready for movies then.
But then came a major international project. Diana was seen in Othello in South Africa. A clip of Othello was seen by Mahesh and Pooja Bhatt, who offered her a break in Bollywood but she refused.
She is keeping her fingers crossed now and hoping that the audiences will accept her in the Ab Bas!
She has signed one more film titled All Alone, which will be directed by Ritesh Sinha. It is an English film and also features Manoj Bajpai in a stellar role.
Diana has a sensuous role in All Alone. She will be donning a lot of jewellery in the movie, which will have many dance sequences. The first shooting schedule was held in Mauritius.
"This movie has three French actors, me and Manoj Bajpai. It is set to release in 5,000 screens across the globe," she adds.
Diana also strongly denies having an affair with actor Gulshan Grover.
She is right now busy trying to perfect her Hindi. About her cameo in Tehzeeb, she says: "I wanted to quietly see how it is being in Bollywood and perhaps then decide if I should settle in India."