Your performance in Udta Punjab is being hailed as monumental. Your thoughts?
(Laughs) I don’t know about that. But I do know there are no false notes in that performance. Every moment is real…well, almost every moment. There is one scene I could have done better.
Which one is that?
My scene at the end of the film on the beach in Goa. I think I should have had a different expression there. Having said that, I still like my performance.
Shahid Kapoor says you should get the National Award…
That’s sweet of him. But there are many other performances coming up this year. If it happens it will be great. It is one of my biggest dreams. Right now I feel happy and blessed. My family — my father, mother, my sister Pooja — were all there to see the film with me. They were so happy for me. My sister Shaheen is yet to see it though.
She is a bit scared, I think. To see me go through all that pain in the film.
Don’t you think everything is happening too fast for you?
Yeah, sometimes I wish things would slow down a bit. I don’t want to burn myself out. But I am an opportunity-grabber. And when I am getting all these opportunities now why should I let them go? Who knows what will happen later?
How difficult was it for you to play the Bihari girl who gets traumatised in Punjab?
I could never really relate to my character Mary Jane. She belongs to a completely different world. But I could empathise with her plight. I didn’t imagine myself in her situation — I couldn’t be in that situation. Her cultural and economic background is completely different from mine. I don’t approve of social hierarchy, but we can’t deny its existence.
Did the difference between the life of the poor Bihari girl and the life that you lead, trouble you?
It did bother me and it was traumatising to play her. I just thought of her in that situation. The only way I could portray her character is by trying to share her pain. I asked my director what she must have been feeling. He told me it was desperation — desperation to escape. At one point she even runs to the edge of the roof to escape her plight. I remember when I did that sequence my hands were shaking uncontrollably. I was shivering for about an hour.