Michelle Yeoh: Happy to do Bollywood film

NEW YORK (Dec 12, 2011): Ipoh-born Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh (pix) would be "more than happy" to do a Bollywood film.

"Yes, why not? I would be willing to do a Bollywood film if I get a good role," she told Bernama on the sidelines of a special screening of "The Lady" which is based on the life and struggle of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The special screening was held Sunday at a packed auditorium of the Asia Society in New York.

Yeoh who was last week in Goa, India to host the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India, said that she had grown up in Malaysia watching Indian films and was impressed by the dance, colour and drama that were characteristic of a Bollywood film.

Asked if she still had strong affinity to Malaysia, she responded spontaneously: "Yes, very much indeed. I have my Malaysian passport and my parents live in Malaysia which is my home country, even though I am based in Hong Kong for professional reasons."

Yeoh appeared on the stage with the director of The Lady, Luc Besson, who revealed some of the intricate details of film making as he talked about the challenges in making the film which was shot, largely, on location in Thailand.

The large number of demonstrators and supporters of Suu Kyi, Besson revealed, were recruited from camps set up in Thailand for Myanmar refugees.

At the special advance screening -- the film will be commercially released in February next year -- the large audience, many of whom were fans and supporters of Suu Kyi, saw a film that seemed to touch a sensitive cord within them.

Yeoh may have starred in Hollywood hits like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and the James Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies", and the "Memoirs of a Geisha" but she said that there was something special about The Lady.

"Playing Aung San Suu Kyi was a journey in itself. She represents many things for many people and for many reasons. For the role I tried to step into her life," she said.

"Although I have played many important roles in my life, I can say that this role has been a journey of self-realisation for me. Suu Kyi is a strong lady and her journey through the travails has been an inspiration to me, on which my
portrayal of the great lady is based," she said.

The role was one of the most challenging roles done by Yeoh. "Indeed, I would say that it is one of my best roles ever."

Many in audience, speaking to Bernama after the screening, said that they would not be surprised if the Malaysian actress won accolades at various international film awards, including an Oscar.

"Michelle Yeoh deserves an Oscar for her role in The Lady," said Julie Russell, a Malaysian woman married to an American businessman, who attended the screening.

The Lady by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element 1997, La Femme Nikita 1990) sheds light on Suu Kyi's personal story.

Besson's emotionally-packed narration dwells on Suu Kyi and her British husband Michael Aris.

The film's title is the nickname bestowed upon Suu Kyi by the Myanmar people, who see her as a beacon of grace and courage, in particular for the huge personal sacrifices she has made in fighting for Myanmar's freedom.

Yeoh narrated how she had actively researched into Suu Kyi's persona. In order to prepare for the role, the actress attentively scanned through 200 hours of videos of Suu Kyi so that she could closely exhibit her body language and
demeanor. – Bernama