It has been almost 16 years since you started your career. Has it been a long hard journey to reach where you have?
When I look at my journey in Bollywood, I realize that all of those things were small pieces towards a larger sort of plan which just had to fall in place the way it fell in place. This is what it is, which is why I don’t want to change anything about it. I am thankful for everything, be it the accolades, rejections and the many constant ups and downs. All of this has made me what I am today and I am very happy to be who I am today.
Chhorii seems to be the most important film of your career. Would you agree with that?
It is indeed one of the most important films of my career, because Chhorii is not just another horror film. It is a horror film with a perspective, one that brings to light a social evil, provoking thoughts that inspire us all to take responsibility in a manner that we move towards bringing about a change. Furthermore, Chhorii will also raise the bar for horror films in terms of the fear quotient, the narrative and the thrills. It was a daunting experience and was one of the most difficult films I’ve done so far.
You play a traumatized pregnant woman. How tough was it for you to get right the body language and the emotional landscape?
Cinema in this age has evolved to a whole new level altogether. An artiste needs to put in all their effort so that they can breathe life into the character being portrayed. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we do not ruin the performance by over-delivering. The performance needs to be really subtle, and subliminal. The audience at a subconscious level has to be convinced that I am pregnant without actually telling them I’m pregnant. So, it was very tough to put myself in the shoes of a pregnant woman. I had the team make the bodysuit for me in advance, at least a month in advance. I used to wear it and roam around the house all day so that I could get the mannerisms and the posture correct – so that was an effort in the direction of the physicality of being pregnant.
How did you master the emotional landscape of your character?
I spoke to a lot of women who’ve been pregnant and understood what was it like for them in the process . I spoke to my mum, my sister and a few friends .For each of them the experience was different, so you couldn’t really draw a common things – I took a little bit of experience from each of them and put that into this role. And by default, I feel women have that caring, nurturing, protecting instinct in them. I think that’s something that is auto tuned into our systems so that came naturally to me.
You haven’t really done horror before. Do you enjoy watching and doing the genre?
I have done a horror film before this. But this would be my first, so to say, lead role film and it is in the true sense a horror film. While, I am extremely scared to watch horror movies, I watch them with my eyes shut, but I love watching them with friends. Usually, when a new horror film comes out, I am one of those who refutes at first, and then eagerly sits and watches the film with a tub of popcorn. Even for the prep of this film, Vishal Sir asked me to watch a couple of them – Quite place being one of them, it was quite an experience.
Do you feel the OTT platform has opened up new avenues for good but unconnected actors like you in the film industry?
OTT reaches audiences in the nooks and corners of the world, unlike a theatre which may be region specific. So the kind of audience you get on a OTT is larger and across geographies with varied different tastes. You will find all sorts of audiences consuming different content, which makes it a very interesting space for any creator to experiment and explore genres without the pressure of box office numbers. In the last one and a half year, it has boomed so much, which is a great boost to us as an industry. It has definitely opened up new avenues for the film industry as now we have new writers, new directors, new actors and new fresh content coming up.These platforms have made a business flourish and given it a whole new life and I hope it keeps growing. I am very happy that my film Chhorii is coming out on Amazon Prime Video as it will reach a wider audience and to everybody’s houses, phones and tablets, people can watch it wherever they want to view it.
All of us have gone through very tough times in the last two years. How do you look back at the pandemic and what is your takeaway from it?
The second wave of COVID definitely hit us a lot harder with the entire industry coming to standstill. One good thing is that due to platforms like Amazon Prime Video and the others, a lot of us got an opportunity to work, and if we as actors could work, there were plenty others – people who help on sets and so many staff teams who could earn a living. It’s been a learning curve for us all, something to look back on.
Coming back to Chhorii it was premiered at the IFFI. Does it make you proud? Would you say this is your most important film so far?
I am honoured to be a part of this prestigious festival and I am equally honoured that my film, which is also a very very special project for me, was screened at this festival for audiences to watch. Shooting for this film has been an emotional journey for me, I have literally given it my all. I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything better than this. This film is also special because it strongly makes a point, and I am personally so invested in that cause. I am hoping the audiences will watch the film for what it is intended to do, and I hope they take back with them the message that we want to give and more so, I hope they love and enjoy the film equally.
Tell me about your forthcoming projects. Are you satisfied with the way your career is shaping up?
I have a couple of projects in the pipeline, Ram setu being one of them. The rest are under production, hopefully I should be able to talk about them soon. I am in a very happy space right now with the kind of films I am doing.