Her acting career took off when she was 18 but she balanced everything at a young age by prioritising family, maintaining a good pace, fighting depression and ignoring rumours about her.
The actress with Goan roots started her career with a Telugu film, Devadasu. She is also known for her Tamil films and has worked in more than 15 films in her six year-long career in the South. Ileana forayed into Bollywood in 2012 with Anurag Basu’s Barfi and was later seen in well-received films such as Rustom, Mubarakan, Baadshaho and Raid.
Nurturing a love for films
When Ileana started out in Telugu cinema, she signed anything and everything that came her way. “I was 18 and immature. At the time, it felt like a good idea. I was young, naive, had zero ambition and, honestly, it wasn’t my calling,” she said.
She managed to nurture love for films almost two years after her debut. So, my choice really changed with time because there was this seriousness and respect for my work. I felt I owed it to my work to not do a very crap film and to think about what I am doing,” she added. The Raid actor was 21 when she thought of doing better films and that too at a slow pace. While talking about how things have changed for her, Ileana said, “I had this thought that when I am a grandma, I don’t want the kids to look at it and say, ‘What’s that? Why did you do that’?”
Ileana has managed to escape celebrityhood in her style. For her, family has always been her priority. While talking about her family, she added, “I’m happy doing films at a slow pace. I do love my work, but for me, my priority is definitely family, and then work. This industry expects you to put work before family. They are like ‘The show must go on’ irrespective of whatever happens. That’s something I like to twist and tweak to my way.”
The Mubarakan star got offers from Bollywood even before her debut in South Indian films. She was offered a role in Salman Khan’s Wanted. “I was offered a film of my own which was Wanted with Salman Khan. I was actually going to do it. I was happy that my first film would be with Salman,” she added. But her priorities were different even back then. As a result, she did not accept the film and today, regrets her decision. Elaborating on the incident, she said, “I remember I had exams on back then. So when Boney (Kapoor) sir asked me to do the photo shoot, I was like ‘I am sorry, I have exams on. I can’t. I don’t think I handled it well back then because I didn’t understand the gravity of the offer. For me, it was all about finishing my exams.”
Her Struggle with Herself
It has been years that Ileana has been in the industry but she never wanted to be an actor. “I was this very self-conscious, shy person once I hit my teens. The obsession started when I was about 15; my entire goal was to make sure I was accepted by everyone,” revealed Ileana.
The Rustom actor added that things changed with acceptance when she took the first step towards battling depression. “They told me you know that you have depression; you have anxiety, you’re going through body dysmorphic disorder. There was an acceptance that almost came in immediately and I think that it is one of the biggest steps that you can take towards change or you can’t move forward otherwise.” The actor ended on a positive note when she said, “I don’t care if I’m gonna fail again! I just wanna keep pushing and you know you’re not meant to be perfect; you’re meant to be flawed.”