If acting doesn’t work, I will become a dancer, says Sanya Malhotra – After playing gold medalist Babita Phogat (wrestler Geeta Phogat’s sister) in Dangal (2016), Sanya Malhotra will essay the role of a younger sibling once again. This time, it’s for Vishal Bhardwaj’s Chhuriyaan. “Chhutki for life,” Sanya laughs adding, “But, this character is completely different from Babita’s. She’s extroverted and out there, unlike me in real life.” Other than this project, the 20-something actress also has Ritesh Batra’s (of The Lunchbox fame) Photograph and Amit Sharma’s (Tevar) Badhaai Ho. Sanya, who made her big-screen debut two years ago, talks about her upcoming films, why she didn’t mind waiting to see herself on screen again, dealing with failure, and her Plan B.
You have a film with Vishal quite early in your career…
I still can’t believe I’m working with ‘the’ Vishal Bhardwaj. I’m a big fan of his work — from movies to music. I feel grateful and excited. During the script reading session, I zone out sometimes, wondering if I’m sitting in the same room as him. He knows how important it is to prep for a character and has been helping me with that for the past few weeks.
Tell us about your other movie, Badhaai Ho.
The script is hilarious and it’s shot in Delhi, which is home. So, that made it even more fun and there was a lot of food (laughs). I think Ayushmann Khurrana is an amazing actor. I wanted to work with him. I’m glad I got that chance with my second film.
Comedy is known as the most difficult genre. Do you agree?
It was difficult because I’m an introvert. I needed a lot of prep. But, Amit (Sharma) helped me become the character. Ayushmann (Khurrana) is a funny guy and he’d keep cracking jokes. His brother, Aparshakti, is an outgoing guy and we’ve worked together. So, I was prepared for their antics.
What space is Photograph in?
I love the world that Ritesh (Batra) has created in his film, and I’m working with great actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jim Sarbh. The script and character are still with me. We finished dubbing a few days ago and I can’t wait for people to see it. Ritesh is a brilliant director. He’s a poet. The Lunchbox is one of my favourite movies. I hope Photograph stays with people, too.
As a newbie, does working with big directors make you nervous?
It doesn’t. Actually, I don’t want to have that feeling, and enjoy everything I do. If at all, I get anxious before the shoot for the character. But, the directors make you feel comfortable. For Chhuriyaan and Photograph, the preparation is internal and more psychological unlike Dangal, which was physical.
It’s almost two years since you debuted. Didn’t the wait to see yourself on screen bother you?
I don’t mind waiting. It’s important to have patience and be happy even if you’re not working or don’t have money. I have projects with the most amazing directors and actors. So, the wait has been fine.
After a launch like Dangal, are you being more careful about the kind of films you sign?
While filming Dangal, I remember having a conversation with Nitesh Tiwari sir about how some actors are particular about the screen time. He said it’s important for an artiste to not care about how long the role is but what they can give to the script. That advice stayed with me. Since then, I’ve made sure that if I like the script, can imagine myself as the character and live the screenplay, I’ll do the film. That will be the only criteria.
Have you thought of failure and how you will deal with it?
I’ve failed many times. I’ve given so many auditions and failed in 30-40 per cent of them. When I moved to Mumbai, I was so introverted that I didn’t know how to approach people for work. I did ads for a year before Dangal. But I’ve learnt from my failures and I’m not scared anymore. I think it keeps you grounded.
Do you have a Plan B?
Dancing is in my scheme of things already. I’m going to take a sabbatical soon to learn tap dancing. If acting doesn’t work, I will become a dancer.