After delivering a breakthrough performance in Margarita, With A Straw, there has been no looking back for Sayani Gupta. Just a few films old, Sayani has already made a name for herself in Bollywood. Post Fan, where the actress shared screen space with Shah Rukh Khan, we saw her act with Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra in Nitya Mehra’s Baar Baar Dekho(BBD). While the film was quite the debacle at the box office, Sayani is still proud of it. In a candid chat, the actress talks about working with Nitya Mehra, her co-stars, and her upcoming film, Parched, among other things.
What was it like to work with Nitya Mehra in her debut film BBD?
Irrespective of how the film has done at the box office, we always really believed in the film. When I first read the script, I wasn’t very sure if I wanted to do it, because it was a really complicated story. But, once I met Nitya, it took her 10 minutes to convince me to do the film. She is really a sorted director. You rarely meet a director who is sure of how they see the film — she knew exactly what she wanted, and how she wanted every scene. She managed to handpick the perfect cast and crew. It feels really good to be part of such a great team. I love Nitya, and would definitely like to work with her again and again.
What do you think went wrong with the film?
I think the script needed to be more accessible. It was a tough script. I think a little work on it would have helped, because if you see from the point of view of execution, there’s no problem. It’s a well-executed film; Nitya is a good director. All the other departments worked excellently, too. But you know, films are never foolproof and that’s why they’re fun. You’re doing your best, and hoping that audience will like it. But sometimes it doesn’t happen and it’s fine. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have made the film. Of course, we should have, and every film has its own destiny. BBD was going to be like this, and it doesn’t matter as long as the producers make their money. A lot of people I met loved the film, and few didn’t like it at all —not every film that you make will be loved by everyone.
Many avoid being ‘the other girl’ in a film. What made you say yes for the film and play Chitra?
There were only four or five scenes in the film, where I depicted Chitra. When you have a smaller window, you have to be very precise. There were two things that Nitya told me about the character that excited me; one was that I was going to be the other girl, in a way. She needed someone who was probably a good performer and she also wanted someone who could be believable as the other girl, because Sidharth’s character is confused between Diya and Chitra. You have Katrina — who is outstanding and stunning — playing Diya. So, why will Jai have confusion at all? Nitya said she needed someone who could portray the other side of the beauty, someone who is natural and an ‘Indian’ beauty. At this point, I laughed wondering how she even put me there. However, I think what she meant was that she needed somebody who could convincingly make Jai think, ‘Yeah, I could have gone with my best friend.’
What I really liked about Chitra’s character is that she is very strong, honest and simple. A lot of times you get along with your friend and you joke around saying that, ‘Arre, I could have been married to you.’ The viewer could see their best friend in Chitra.
How was your experience working with Sidharth and Katrina in BBD?
Both of them are fun people. Sid is absolutely amazing. He is very intelligent, and he is genuinely a very nice guy. I’m really fond of him. Kat is focused and extremely attentive on set so it is inspiring to watch her work. The amazing part is, she doesn’t take anything for granted. Everyone knows that she is a stunning woman and in spite of that, every day she comes on set and puts in a lot of hard work. She is constantly working. She is constantly trying to improve and become a better performer every day, which is quite inspiring. We had a lot of fun in Glasgow while shooting. We used to hang out together after shoot and it was nice.
Just like BBD, if you could time travel and go back into the past, what advice would you give your younger self?
Oh, nothing at all. I’d say, ‘Do exactly what you’re doing because you’re doing great!’ (Giggles) I am extremely proud of all the mistakes that I have made, and I think we all should be.
Your film, Parched, where you have a cameo, is set to release this week. Tell us about your character?
Parched is about women, who are trying to find freedom and follow their aspirations. It’s basically Sex and the City set in village. It’s a funny film and at the same time, extremely hard hitting. I play Champa, a girl who is married off to a man from another village. She is just trying to live, and that’s just what she wants from life. I have few scenes in the movie, but they are powerful ones.
Though small roles but you always succeed in picking characters that stand out on the silver screen...
Choosing such characters has never been a conscious decision. I just pick characters that appeal to me and it’s not only work but that’s just how I live my life. I don’t listen to people. I like doing things on my own terms. I don’t take advice from anyone. I just have few ‘go to’ people. If I like the script or the character or if I want to work with the director, I’ll hop on board with the film. If I don’t like some part or the character isn’t strong enough or exciting, I say no and I have said no to a lot of work that have come my way. I don’t know if it’s the right decision or not but I don’t regret not doing the films that I have turned down. I avoid roles which aren’t solid and hang around the hero. I like taking films where I think I can bring something to the table as a performer. Even in Fan, I had a scope to do something even though it was out and out a Shah Rukh Khan film. There wasn’t much to do as an actor but I still thought whatever little I could bring, I’d still be able to bring it. Even in Baar Baar Dekho, I was happy because I got to do a quirky character and had a scope to do enough even in the little window that there was. In Parched, it was always going to be a cameo but I did the film because I needed to portray this character. So all the films that I have done so far or I am currently doing are sorted like that.
Filmmakers that you would love to work with in future?
There are just so many! I really want to work with Rajkumar Hirani, Vishal Bharadwaj, Ayan Mukherji, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya, Farhan, Shujaat Saudagar, Shoojit Sircar. There are a lot of people I want to work with. It’s a never ending hunger.
I am in the middle of 3-4 projects but I will tell you once I can talk about it. But I assure that these are fun projects, like the films I have done so far....