Saiyami Kher’s distinctive, sharp personality adds to her enigmatic aura. The 24-year-old made her debut with the Telugu movie Rey in 2015, now her Bollywood debut opposite Harshvardhan Kapoor has been making all the right noises. Helmed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, and written by Gulzar, the upcoming movie has everything going for it. It helps that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have composed the music for the film, and Mirzya is already piquing interests.
The movie is a contemporised version of the famous Punjabi tragedy Mirza Sahibaan, and has the lead actors portraying two different characters. “I’ve been told that it’s the first time a female debutante has got a chance to portray two different characters in the same film. This trivia made me feel special,” says Saiyami.
Two different eras, two different people; too difficult for a newcomer to pull off? “We treated it (the two periods) as two different films,” says Saiyami, elaborating on her extensive preparation for the role. “We get to hear about heroes pushing themselves and getting six packs but my transformation was both physical and emotional. We shot the contemporary version first, where I play Suchitra. Rakeysh sir wanted me to keep it as close to my personality as possible. We took a four-month break after that schedule before getting into the Mirzya portion of it. Rakeysh sir wanted my muscles to be toned, as he wanted me to add an unabashedly raw and rustic tribal sensuality to the character. To prepare for that bit, I went through a lot of cross-fit and weight gain routines. The physical transformation took me two months. This was very exciting for me because I’ve always had an interest in sports.”
About her emotional transformation, Saiyami says, “Rakeysh sir had told me that he’d been looking for his Sahibaan for a good 15 years He wanted me to embark on the journey of unravelling her personality along with him. The movie was emotionally and physically demanding, but I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Saiyami reveals that Rakeysh is pretty much family to her now. “Just being associated with a director like him is half the battle won for someone like me. He’s a phenomenal filmmaker and an even greater human being. I’ve found a philosopher, teacher, friend and family in him. I live alone in Mumbai, and every Sunday, Rakeysh sir — who happens to be an excellent cook — would cook for me,” she says.
Saiyami reveals that Harshvardhan and she are essentially introverts, who bonded well because of their interest in sports. “My equation with Harshvardhan is a life-long one,” she confesses. “He’d stand by me when I was down. As an actor, he’s excellent and an out-and-out method actor, which is refreshing for someone in our industry where it’s otherwise unheard of. I’m happy to have a friend like him in my life.”...