Sexy Bruna Abdullah shares beauty and fitness tips
After a relatively successful stint in the Indian modelling industry, she made her Bollywood debut in Cash. Her latest project is I Hate Luv Storys, where she plays Imran Khan's friend.
From working in a bank in Brazil seven years ago to the arc lights of Bollywood, it has been quite a journey for Bruna Abdullah.
Here, in an extensive conversation with Nithya Ramani, the beauty talks about life in Bollywood, her career and lots more.
How did you get into modelling?
I used to work in a bank back in Brazil. When I was 16, there was a beauty contest, the prize for which was a computer and cash. At that time computers meant elite.
Everyone pushed me to go for it, but I wasn't sure. I wore Converse shoes and baggy jeans and t-shirts. I wasn't model material.
I can never forget that day -- a Wednesday -- when I went to work my boss too told me that I should take part in it. He wanted me to do this because he knew that I needed the money. I didn't know what to say.
So I had to get ready in a day -- get my hair done, my make-up, wear high heels and wear a bikini. I was very self-conscious that I had to compete with many others. I don't know how, but I ended up winning and got a computer!
I felt a sense of achievement. There were other senior models judging the contest, and they invited me to join their agency. But I couldn't because I was working and wanted to pursue my studies.
After six months, I did a commercial in Brazil that paid me $1,000. It was huge money for me at that time. At the same time, after seeing my pictures, a guy from Japan came down and offered to take me to Tokyo for commercials.
It all happened so fast that I suddenly saw myself trying to learn English, finish college and save money because I was going to travel. I hadn't even stepped out of my state before! It's been more than seven years now that I've been out.
Image: Bruna Abdullah
Photographs: A still from Khatron ke Khiladi
'I'm very ambitious'
How did your parents react when you participated in the contest?
They cheered for me. My mom thought I was the most beautiful, like all mothers think of their child. She said it was okay if I didn't win, but there was no harm in trying. She pushed me because, maybe deep in her heart, she thought I had a chance.
When I said I was going to Tokyo, they started crying. But again my mother said -- an expression in Brazil -- 'You are not born to live under my skirt. You are born to be Bruna and do something with your life.'
Weren't you nervous about going out and living by yourself when you were still in your teens?
What can I say? I'm very ambitious. When you have very little and can't afford much, you have to go out and make money. Probably if I could have made enough money (in Brazil) to take care of my parents, I wouldn't have left. But this is what makes me different. I am who I am: I have a lot of experience behind me, unlike a typical 20-year-old. I have met so many people, traveled a lot and achieved something that is worth mentioning.
So how did Bollywood happen? What made you come to Mumbai?
I was in the Philippines just before coming to Mumbai. I had a lot of Indian friends there who said I looked Indian and that I must try my luck in Bollywood. I wasn't too sure but decided to try. So I packed my bags and came here. I had only a three-month visa and I was thrown into a model's apartment where I had to start again from scratch.
What was your first assignment as a model in Mumbai?
What do you think? A sari catalogue, of course. When I draped the sari and got my make-up done, I felt like a princess. It was funny and yet interesting. I sent pictures of me in the sari to my mom.
Image: Bruna Abdullah
'Young models must be very careful and smart'
What are your tips and advice to aspiring models?
For young girls who are doing this, take it serious and work hard. The glamour industry is beautiful, your life is beautiful and the guys are so handsome, you meet a lot of people, you have alcohol for free, enter clubs for free and take drugs for free. So you tend to lose your motivation and direction. I took this up because I had my mind set on making money and taking care of my parents. All I'm trying to say is be very careful and smart. Choose your friends. You don't have to be friends with everyone and do things you don't want to do just to be cool.
I was rejected by a lot of people because I wasn't cool and didn't like drinking and partying, but it's okay. I never cared. So please be smart and respect yourself. If you are doing it because you want to, then be careful and don't hurt yourself. You don't have to do anything you don't want to get a job. If it doesn't happen then maybe it wasn't meant to happen.
What according to you is the mantra to succeed in Bollywood?
Though I have just entered, I think it is essential to always talk to those who care for you like your parents. Always talk to them and take their advice. They always have answers to your questions come what may. Just ask and you will find an answer.
Are you planning to shift your parents here?
My mother has lived with me for a year and they are planning to shift here for good if I am not going back. Except for my sister -- because she is studying -- mom and dad will come here.
Did you have any friends in the industry whom you could trust with your decision making?
I have a great agency and a manager who I trust blindly. We always discuss the pros and cons and opportunities, why I should or why I shouldn't do something, etc.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani
'Don't wear something just because someone says it looks cool'
Do you follow a diet to stay in shape?
I eat healthy. I eat junk food once a week. When you are dieting, stop thinking that you are dieting. The very thought will stop you from dieting. If you decide to diet, then you decide, don't let other people tell you to. Try and work out. If you can't go to the gym, then walk or try cycling. It is very healthy. Eat healthy.
It is very easy but we make it difficult.
How do you maintain your skin and hair?
I think I have to give credit to my dad. He is too good-looking. I have his looks. Apart from that I try to sleep early and wake up early. I recently started visiting the gym. I eat properly: breakfast, lunch and two snacks, so that I don't stuff myself with dinner. I drink a lot of water. I make sure that I remove my make-up as soon as I am home. I wear an eye cream -- doesn't have to be an expensive one -- before I sleep. A little bit of personal care and hygiene is very important. Sometimes when you overdo it, it doesn't work. Keep your mind free because you get pimples and acne because of stress. I am a very hyper person, so I look for things that will keep me calm, like chamomile tea. It also depends on your lifestyle. For example, I don't smoke, so that helps.
What is your favourite cuisine?
Italian, because my dad is Italian. I have been having Italian food since I was a child. But it is also fattening with a lot of oil. Secondly I love Indian food. It is all so tasty and tempting.
What is style according to you? What tips would you give youngsters?
I like wearing retro dresses at times. But I always prefer to wear something I am comfortable in. I like sitting in a pair of jeans and a tank top. It is easier walking around like that. I am not conscious about if it's too short or too revealing or too low at the cleavage.
When I go out, I do dress up and dress up well, but again make sure that I am comfortable in what I wear. If you want to stay cool, wear what you are comfortable in. If you don't feel confident in it, don't wear something just because someone said it looks cool on you.
Have you faced any embarrassing at-work moments?
Yes. This is very common with foreigners who come to India. I was shooting my sari catalogue, and I had eaten a lot of spicy food. Little did I know... While shooting, I had to rush to the loo so often that I had to cancel the shoot for the day and go home. It was very embarrassing.
When did you realise for the first time that you are famous?
It hasn't sunk in yet. I don't know if I am famous. I actually run away from fame. For my family and friends, I am sure I am famous, but I think I am still the same. Nothing has changed much.
Are you in touch with your friends back home?
I left home when I was very young. So it is here that I have the majority of my friends.
Do your fans ever shock you?
I keep getting weird messages on twitter. Messages like 'I want your phone number so badly,' 'I want your number and I promise you cannot reject me, make you fall in love with me.' These are ridiculous messages I get. One day I was at McDonalds and the lady at the counter was shocked to see me. She started talking to me and went on and on and kept the others waiting behind me. So such funny things happen but not too often.
What is your idea of a perfect date?
My perfect date would be where I am comfortably sitting on a couch and the guy is as comfortable as I am, sitting with his legs folded. I am there with no make-up on and my hair not done. We chat like nothing really bothers us and I would be Bruna.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
What turns you on in a man?
And what turns you off?
Attitude. Guys who think too much of themselves and that they know everything and walk with their nose up in the air. Maybe girls can carry some attitude but not guys.
What is your biggest quirk?
When I am watching a movie, I must eat something or the other from the start to the finish of the film. Be it anything but I must eat (laughs).
Do you cook? What is your speciality?
After my mom left, I had to. So yes, I am learning. I miss home food because I was tired of boring food. I make really good omelettes. I add potatoes, ham and cheese. They're awesome.
Which is your biggest phobia?
I am petrified of cockroaches.
What is your favourite drink?
Grey Goose with cranberry juice.
You love hanging out at...
What's playing on your Ipod now?
I Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rihanna.
Your favourite movie of all time?
Romeo and Juliet
Your favourite books?
All the Twilight books
Your favourite travel destination
All-time favourite will always be Goa.
Make-up you can't live without?
My cream and blush from Mac.
Your biggest indulgence?
I just got a Jimmy Choo bag for Rs 80,000
Your biggest challenge?
Fear Factor. All the tasks.
You cannot leave home without?
My phone, house keys, blush, lip gloss, my wallet and pen -- because I tend to forget everything and even if I do note it in my phone I forget where I've stored it.
In your spare time, what do you love doing?
Watching movies. If I have nothing much to do, I love cycling.
Favourite Bollywood actress?
Favourite Bollywood actors?
Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. I want to work with them.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani