Basu who has had a trying year with her personal travails, returns triumphant with the super opening of Raaz 3

How did you feel when the man you gave nine years of your life to, left you?
I felt abandoned. I was living in a lala land till then. Now sitting today I feel I was so foolish. During those nine years, I retracted from my work, pushed back opportunities, stood like a rock for the man I loved, did not meet people just to give that extra time to make my relationship work and then I realised that the thing I was working so hard for was gone overnight. It took me months to realise that it’s over and I am abandoned. I went through a lot of pain. I used to howl, went into isolation, it hurt. But then after some time the mind has to take over.

How did you cope with being treated like a discarded woman?
I would be the biggest liar if I said there was no struggle and that there were no wounds. I never wanted to talk about my wounds at that time because people dig into them deeper when you talk. I am a single girl. I need to be in the business and work peacefully. I can’t let the baggage of my private life get into work. Artists are more fragile than normal people. But I know that I am a role model for zillions of people so no matter how deep you are hurting, you need to come out strong.

What does love mean to you?
I am a very traditional type of a girl. I like simple things in life. I didn’t fall in love in day one. I was chased. I was wooed. I gave my 100 per cent to my relationship, whether it was my loyalty or respect. I know I made a fabulous girlfriend and would make a fabulous homemaker. I have parents who still deeply love each other. So these are things I value too deeply in life. To me love is not something that can be manipulated.

Has this bitter experience taught you lessons in life?
Nothing can save something that is not meant to be, no matter how hard you try. I want to tell women that you need to love yourself and make yourself a priority. It’s only when you are happy yourself, can you make everyone else around you happy. I am still a dreamer and still believe in fairy tales, but there is only that much one should give another person. You need to keep something for yourself. I am to blame for what happened to me. I allowed a lot. Anyone who pulls you down in your life, should not be in your life.

You isolated so many people like Salman for this one relationship? Do you regret it? I isolated myself. It’s silly, but I did it out of choice. I was foolish. I guess that kind of love does not exist any more, at least not in our business. But when you are right, everyone comes around. Salman is today a friend.

What has changed for you today?
I walk without make-up and people tell me I glow. I see my pictures then and now. It’s as if a dark cloud has lifted above my head. Today I have love and respect for myself. Today, I know I am a fantastic woman. I am so enriched because so much has happened in my life. The way I can express myself is because of the life I have lead. It’s only when you experience life can you emote it. All this has made me a better actor.

We now see a new Bipasha who is ready to mingle with men.
From childhood I love and got along with only men. If a man has a crush on me, I am not supposed to be at fault for that. During the nine years, I confined myself and never stepped out. I didn’t have a life. I worked, went to a gym and came back to my hotel room. Even if a man loved me, it was never communicated to me. I make friends easily irrespective of the sex. I love people. Today I feel happy, light and free.You have seen me so long in a confined and controlled manner, that you may think I am trying to create an image.

Were there people who helped you get out of it?
Rocky S is my friend and brother. He held me with his hands and made me stand on my feet. It’s my friends who helped me. Friendship is the most selfless, beautiful relationship God has made. Bhatt Sahab picked me for ‘Raaz 3’ when I was in self-doubt and made me feel that it was okay not to be strong.

Would you fall in love again?
Yes, I am not cynical about love. I am still a simple, uncomplicated trusting girl. I would again give my 100 per cent to a relationship if I were to have one. But I also believe that it’s okay to be single and as a single woman I can be happy.

Are you vindictive?
Not at all. I believe in respecting people’s relationships. I may not have respect for him, but have respect for anyone who is in a relationship.

What has changed for you professionally today?
I was born in Delhi, went to Kolkata, wanted to become a doctor, became a model, travelled around the world, got bored of modelling, became a part of films, made love my priority, had a failed love life, realised the mistake I had made by pushing back the one support system of work that I had. Today I am ready to struggle again.

I definitely did not have this much focus earlier. But today, I do. Right now I want to give it all to my work. I am enjoying it. I am happy with it. There is a fierceness and a tiny bit of regret that I had talent, but kept on pushing myself back for another priority. I have to make up for lost time. I know I have talent, the will and the audience connect. No heroine without the backing of a big hero or camp can last so long. I have to get my due here and I know I will get it.