A bankable star

Deccan Chronicle.  | S Ramachandran

Entertainment, Bollywood

Despite having work in spurts, actress Amrita Puri’s performance has always been appreciated

Amrita Puri

Aditya Puri turned Indian banking on its head when he founded HDFC and turned it into the largest private sector bank in the country.
And yet his daughter Amrita Puri chose not to become a banker. But a question about why that happened comes back with a witty repartee. “For the same reason that my father did not become an actor — he had no interest in it and he is very bad at it,” she spells out. “It wasn’t even an option for me. What people forget is that I have two parents. I have gone on my mother, she is very creative.”
Her mother, Anita, she tells us, has done several things, starting off in a travel agency. “Then we had a furniture business. She was painting and had exhibitions all over. Later, both of us started a clothing label, which we had to shut down owing to COVID,” she says.

Amrita, too, had moved from doing theatre to copywriting in an ad agency before freelancing for a lifestyle glossy. A portfolio followed and there she was soon doing in commercials. “So we have both dabbled in many things,” she adds. Unlike the women in his family, however, Aditya was with Citibank for twenty years and then in HDFC for twenty-six years. “So it was like a solidly rooted stay,” remarks the actress happy with her own butterfly act.

Missing but not out of action  

Amrita, who completed eleven years in the movies after her debut in the 2010-romcom Aisha, was seen last in the Boney Kapoor production Jeet Ki Zidd opposite Amit Sadh. Currently, she’s been filming the next season of Four More Shots Please.

“I cannot believe it has been eleven years,” she exclaims. “There have been a lot of ups and downs. I have never really taken a break, but if you look at my career, you will see me in spurts. I was not getting the kind of work I wanted. It was the lack of work that was interesting. It was tough. You want to keep yourself busy. But then this involves a lot of waiting — it is like waiting for a good role, waiting for your film to be a hit and perhaps your luck as well.”

With the 2021 series Jeet Ki Zid, Amrita reunited with her Kai Po Che co-actor Amit Sadh. “We were all much younger when we were in Kai Po Che. Amit is far clearer about what he wants and doesn’t want to do and the confidence levels have increased hugely. He is more experienced and quite successful,” says Amrita of Amit. But it is not only Amit but also she who has seen a change in her perspectives. “Of course, but it’s not just my viewing pattern,” she counters. “Everyone’s perspectives have changed. The ball game, the industry has changed. Especially owing to the COVID, there has been an accelerated shift in content towards that OTT, and most of the work is happening there. And with the theatres shutting down, there has been added spotlight on the OTTs.”
But Amrita views these changes rather matter-of-factly. According to her what may have taken several years to get here has happened quickly. “OTT is not the way ahead; currently, it is the only way, with far more opportunities there now. When I did P.O.W. — Bandi Yudhh Ke, it aired on Star Plus and Hotstar, at a time when the OTT was not so big. The show did not get a great chance even though we had such an amazing cast and it was a great show with film actors cast in a major series. Now it has become the widely viewed and publicised platform,” she says.

Realities of the COVID times

Amrita, as are a lot of others, is going through the COVID-created disturbances. “It has been difficult and challenging. There are lots of cancellations. Projects that have been greenlit have been in trouble because of the COVID-related issues and restrictions, including two big projects for me, which had been greenlit soon after which the curfew started.”
Among her upcoming projects is a show for which she had shot last year with Amala Paul and Tahir Raj Bhasin, in which he plays a struggling filmmaker. “It should come on the Jio platform soon,” says Amrita.