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  M.   June 05, 2010

Gemma Arterton, who romanced Daniel Craig as the Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace, actually nursed a secret crush on Shah Rukh Khan during her schooling days.

Recently seen as Princes Tamina in Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time, she reveals, that she has a fabulous Indian connection or let’s say Punjabi connection. “I went to school in Gravesend which has the biggest Gurdwara in Europe, so I grew up in a large Indian community. I had a group of Indian friends as well who helped me get to know more about the Indian culture,” she says.

She’s also done a performance arts course at The Miskin Theatre in Dartford, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on a full grant. She says, she always thought she’d do more of theatre and barely gave a thought to becoming a full-fledged movie star, although, even coming this far hadn’t really been an easy journey. Her biggest breakthrough was through Tess Of D’urbervilles before she became a bond girl. She says, “I wish it was easy to get here (laughs). It was before I had done ‘Bond’ and Tess…, that there were auditions for Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time; and my agent said, ‘Go up for this film, but you probably won’t get it because it’s massive.’ Yet, I met the casting director and then (director) Mike Newell, but you still have to do screen tests and win lots of people over and convince them that you’re beautiful enough, talented enough, and so on. I just thought I was never going to get it, so I was quite blasé about it. And there was such a long wait before I got a call telling me I had the part, that I’d pretty much forgotten about it at that point.” Also, she reveals that it took a lot of effort to learn the stunts, do them, and yet look beautiful as she was the only girl in the cast, nevertheless the stint has given her a new-found passion. She says, “I enjoyed my role as Tamina. She’s very interesting because she’s not just ‘the girl’: she’s got lots of different facets. She’s a high priestess, an adventurer, a bit of a tomboy sometimes. I’m the only girl in the film, so I had to try and look good all the while! It took me up to four hours to be transformed into the Persian princess in the morning. I had to learn how to horse ride, as I’d never done it before, but now it’s kind of become a new passion for me.”

There were recent rumours about her having a ‘special’ off-screen chemistry with her co-star Jake Gyllenhaal which spilled on-screen too. And Gemma doesn’t deny it a bit, in fact almost gushing, she says, “I met Jake a month before we started shooting for the film, so it was all a bit nerve-wracking. I had butterflies in my stomach, but he was sweet. We had a chemistry from the moment we met! The chemistry that you see on-screen was there off-screen too. We were always joking around and very comfortable working together. The nicest thing about him is that he’s such a lovely, funny and down-to-earth guy. He works hard and is a perfectionist but has a great sense of humour.”

Speaking about future work, she has expressed a desire to come to India and be part of the Indian film industry. She says, “Me and some of my friends at school were obsessed with Shah rukh Khan and we all wrote to him, hoping that he would come and perform at our school! I’ve always loved Bollywood movies, I’d love to work on one in the future. Maybe with Shah Rukh Khan!”