Mumbai: Banita Sandhu, an NRI actress debuts on the Bollywood horizon with director Shoojit Sircar’s 'October'. In an exclusive rendezvous Banita expresses her happiness coming to India being her roots. Also she is open to working in South films as well and more.
During her initial days Katrina Kaif had told us that her boy, make up dada, hair dresser help her teach Hindi. Banita follows her footsteps of sorts as she mentions, ”I tell my drivers and makeup artistes to speak in Hindi with me. My fluency in Hindi language will then definitely improve change for better.”
On her Hindi lessons, Banita says, "When you are in London and trying to pick up a language it’s hard to do it. I got worried and called Shoojit Sircar frantically and told him that this is not working. So we came up with the idea of Skype back and forth every single day. I packed my bags and came here. So here the Indian accent helped me get around. By the time I was on the sets I had picked it up everyone around was speaking Hindi around me and naturally I picked it up. I am confident and one thing, I was stubborn about not allowing anyone to dub on my face. There was so much more to my performance."
So was she able to pick up the exact Hindi accent? Banita tells, "I am not a good judge you will have to see October and then judge. When I speak English I have a naturally British accent and when I speak Spanish I have a Spanish accent. So when I speak Hindi I have Indian accent."
Speaking about her Indian roots, the young actress says, " This is not my first time in India, I was just 18 when I first landed here I was in my first year of University. I came to do arts and I have no family here. They are all either in UK or Canada. So it was not just a journey of my career. It has been an emotional and spiritual one. I felt happy as I had a connect to my roots. This journey helped me connect to the culture that I was lacking. I always wanted t come to India some part of me was missing and I discovered my roots here.”
"I had lots of dal and rotis and dahi. I can’t stereotype the entire nation each culture is diverse in nature. Each person is diverse and I had this regressive image of Indian culture but when I came here I refreshingly realized that I have so much in common with the culture as the world is becoming globalised. I found my connect and it restored my faith in humanity," Banita adds.
Talking about her fondness of Bollywood movies, she says, "My mom watched a lot of movies of her kind like Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai. My idea of Bollywood is her generation. Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai. I didn't know about Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. Watching Bollywood films mostly I wanted be an actress at a very young age. I studied in London that's why. I never thought I would be able to work in Hindi cinema because of my Hindi. I never thought I would be able to work in Hindi cinema or. I said yes to this film because of a great team and great man helming the project."
Was the Indian crowd intimidating for Banita? "I went from a small village to London and it was a culture shock for me. I was lucky my mother was worried as I was going to stay here by myself. The team was good. I was very protected by Shoojit sir. I was blessed and everything was in my favour. I did not face any hiccups here and it was not intimidating at all," she asserts.
While speaking about her Bollywood aspirations, Banita says, "For me it's about the concept. It's not about I am going to capitalize on this film. My degree is in the last stages. I want to complete my graduation."
She also mentions about the actor from Bollywood she loves to work with. "I would love to do a film with Aamir Khan, Irrfan Khan and Alia Bhatt," tells Banita.
"I said yes to the film because Shoojit sir made sure that I was in that head space so I was not really worried. Only sometimes when I would talk to him while discussing my lines, he would look at me and I would ask him what was wrong. Slowly he would retort back. You speak so fast so speak slowly for me to understand what you mean? So I have slowed down and learnt a lot. I am so exited. It's an international film and the story is so universal. Given the age we live in with Netfix and Amazon times…. language is no longer a barrier." Banita tells about her experience of working on 'October'.
Banita also open to work in South films, she says, "I won’t take anything I can’t do well. But I will definitely love to do it. However, if I take up any South films I will surely learn the language so that no one gets the opportunity to dub on my face. Language is no barrier for us actors to choose a film. We have various means of learning the language."
"I had a few offers and I signed this film because it was instinctive," she adds.
Banita is very fond of her director Shoojit Sircar. She says, "He never raises his voice and he's endearing and we make fun of each other. I make fun of his age and he makes fun of my fashion sense and lectures me on it."
On her inspiration to play a difficult character in 'October', Banita reveals, "I had cinematic references from Stephen Hawking’s ‘Theory of Everything’ that happens to be one of them. I was like Felicity Jones character that is crazy and yet retained that innocence. Then I modelled myself more on our writer Juhi Chaturvedi. I would watch the way she would talk and behave and the totally embodies the character I play."
Staring Varun Dhawan in the male lead, 'October’ releases on 13th April....