Bollywood model and actress Urvashi Rautela is petrified of snakes, but she was willing to work on her fear if it meant that she would feature in an extravagant, glossy video with Egyptian actor and music idol Mohamed Ramadan.
Their Dubai-set music single ‘Versace Baby’ — which went viral since its release on May 12 and got over 9 million views — has a scene featuring a python. The two are in a steaming jacuzzi with the exotic reptile. The glitzy video shows this city in a starring role.
“I am scared of snakes, but there were a lot of them on the sets,” said Rautela with a laugh.
The music video, shot entirely in the UAE and mostly in hotel Palazzo Versace Dubai, is an unapologetic ode to decadence and materialism. Shots of Ramadan and Rautela living a luxurious, gilded life forms the spine of the video, directed by Dubai-based talent Len Prasad.
“But let me tell you that I am a big animal lover and I can guarantee you that all the animals were well-taken care of. Their owners were there and they weren’t mistreated. Come to think of it, the Versace brand icon has a snake on it, and that’s a signature symbol of Versace and so we wanted to be authentic to the brand even on our sets,” said Rautela.
In her international music video debut, Rautela plays the glamorous arm candy to Ramadan who’s zooming around in fast cars and waking up on a bed with money strewn around them.
“It was so much fun to film the video in Dubai. But it was also extremely challenging because we shot it during a pandemic. We had to be extremely careful, but all our efforts have paid off brilliantly … My friends and fans call me their own ‘Versace Baby’,” said Rautela.
In one of the scenes, she wore a black gown costing more than Rs150 million.
Excerpts from our interview with Rautela as we talk about her latest single …
How did ‘Versace Baby’ come about?
Singer Mohamed Ramadan and I have been friends since 2019. I was invited to Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred’s concert in which Mohamed was performing and we got along well. We got introduced and we spoke about how many Indians are unfamiliar with the music scene unfurling in the Arab world. And, we got talking. The rest is history.
How was it filming in Dubai for the music video, which is an ode to materialism and embracing luxury?
I fell in love with that track the moment I heard it. Both Mohamed and I met last year and we celebrated Christmas together. At that point, he took me to his studio and he made me hear four or five of his popular songs from his repertoire. We even spoke about shooting one of his songs at the Taj Mahal in Agra since it was one of the ‘Seven wonders of the world’. But what stood out to me instantly was his track ‘Versace Baby’. I loved its vibe and when he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, I jumped at his offer. I got this project during my birthday week and it I loved working with Mohamed … Versace was one of my favourite brands while growing up. I loved the way I have been styled in this video. The black gown which cost a whopping sum was worn by a Hollywood icon. ‘Versace Baby’ is all about style and money.
The Dubai-set video is an unapologetic nod to materialism, living life on the fast lane, and spending money on luxury goods … Did you feel guilty that it may come across as tone-deaf during the time of a pandemic?
In my music video ‘Doob Gaye’, I was playing an innocent girl, but my part in ‘Versace Baby’ is a polar opposite of that. I was on call to look glamorous. But it was very challenging to shoot it during the lock down. We had real animals like cubs, jaguars, and pythons on the sets. I am proud of Mohamed for pulling it all of. It’s one of the most expensive music videos that I have ever featured in. And, Mohamed was an absolute professional and he was solely interested in making the project better. We were dressed from head-to-toe in Versace and that made it an authentic representation of the song. It’s a perfect endorsement for Versace too.
Do you have a favourite scene?
I had to return for another shoot in India, so due to the quarantine rules back home I had to go back to my country before my shoot ended. But it has been edited nicely. My favourite scene is the one with the python in a Jacuzzi. It was so stylish. This song is a total show-off about leading a materialistic life — think cars, planes, and materialism. This is a total party-oriented video.
You also tweeted that the proceeds of the video will go for Palestine relief fund and COVID-19 India relief. What are your thoughts?
At the time of recording and shooting the song, we were focused on how to make this video better. We were keen to make the video appealing to Mohamed’s music fans in the Arab world and get him acquainted to the India. Look closely and you will find a few signature Bollywood moves too. It gives me great pleasure to realise that my first hit with an Arab artist was trending in India, Morocco, and other parts of the world. I feel incredibly proud. This is our Eidi, our eid present, to all our fans.
What’s next for you?
I have around six projects up for release. I will be seen with Randeep Hooda in the web series ‘Inspector Avinash’ and the Bollywood remake of Tamil hit ‘Thiruttu Payale 2’. I also have the film ‘The Black Rose’ up for release. But more than my movies, I am solely thinking about safeguarding our lives right now. It’s a terrible situation right now and we are concerned about everyone’s safety. We can’t meet people out in the open like we used to. It can get lonely, but I am trying to be as positive as we can. ‘Versace Baby’s viral success is a silver lining in my life right now.