Dream Girl 2 has crossed 100 crores, your first century, how does this success feel after a lull?
It feels amazing! I think the best feeling about it is the acceptance from the audience. I’ve seen so many stories on Instagram where people are watching the movie 2-3 times. they’re going with their whole family, they’re going with their friends and that feeling that we’ve contributed in some way to bringing the cinema community watching back, it feels really really good. A big part of doing movies is to entertain people, to make people happy and the best feeling is to know that you made people smile and laugh.
What did you learn from working with Ayushmann Khurrana?
I found Ayushmann extremely easy to work with. I had certain preconceived notions of him before I started working, I thought he’d have a very strict process because of the kind of films that he does but I think the best part about him is how easy he is and I think that honesty and that ease translates on screen. So, I learned that from him, to just keep it easy to keep it light no matter how hard the role is to keep the vibe on set as light and as easy and he’s very secure. I think as an actor he always thinks about the whole film and not just himself and you can see that in the film, he stands out despite Dream Girl 2 being an ensemble film. And I think a big part of that is because he lets everyone shine.
One memory that you take back from Dream Girl 2?
I think at the start of the shoot in Mathura, we were there for about 10 days. I love shooting in live locations, I feel like it really gets you into the skin of the character and that was my first day of shoot. So just roaming around, interacting with the people over there, eating the local food you know we would go to set on the tuk-tuks and then we’d come back by boat everyday so it felt really like a very wholesome experience. I think that the realness that we were shooting in that really helped bring across the story on screen.
As a popular celebrity, do you feel the need to be extra careful before doing/saying anything?
I think in general it is important because you know as they say with great power comes great responsibility. I think I’m super aware that there are a lot of young people who look up to me so I am very conscious in terms of the brands that I sign or the films that I do. I make sure I’m not saying anything or doing anything that goes against what I stand for or what I believe in but at the end of the day for a film like Dream Girl there is a fine line between hurting someone’s feelings and comedy and I think we’ve maintained that not hurt anyone’s sentiments we’ve been able to keep it light and I think the audience has really appreciated that.
Ayushmann and you have an age gap of 14 years, what is your take on romancing a much older actor on the silver screen?
I don’t really have a take because I think this has been going on for since the movies have existed. This age difference has been there in actors and actresses but I didn’t actually realise that age difference as much when I was shooting with Ayushmann until people started saying it during the promotions. I don’t think I ever asked him his age, I never felt the need to because I think as long as it looks okay on screen as long as it fits the characters I think that’s alright. if your age really stands out and is jarring to the audience then I think that’s a problem.
How do you deal with the highs and lows of your career?
I’m very new right now so I don’t think I deal with it differently. Sometimes things really affect me, sometimes they don’t affect me at all. I’m also noticing a lot of changes in myself and I’m noticing a lot of behaviors that I do when something is good and when something is bad. My dad has always said to be the same person no matter what the success is and no matter what the failure is, that’s something I’m really trying to do to keep my head down and continue working.
One change you have noticed in yourself after getting into films?
I think I’ve lost some of my inhibitions. When I started out, even though I always wanted to be an actor, I was still very shy and I feel like a lot of the acting used to happen in my head but I was very conscious to fully go for it. I feel like some of the films that I’ve done now for example Gehraiyaan and the show that I just did, Call Me Bae, those have really pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to put it all out there and you’re like you’re not going to get another chance to do this so you can’t just be acting in your head you have to actually come out there and perform. I also think I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no. At first,I was really scared of how people would react if I said no to saying a particular line or doing a particular scene but I think you have to have that strength and conviction to know who you are as a person as well, you can’t go against that.
One public perception you want to change about yourself?
Honestly, I don’t want to say anything. I’m just hoping that with my work people are able to automatically change their perception about me. I don’t think if I say anything it’s really going to make a difference. I just wish people understood that I’m almost growing up in front of them, I’ve been working since I was 18, so they’re going to see many changes in me so to be a little understanding of that.
A few films later, having seen it all, do you still go to your parents for career advice?
I think they like me to make my own decisions and my own mistakes so that later I don’t blame anyone or call on anyone. They’re my biggest cheerleaders and my biggest critics at the same time. My dad keeps telling me certain things I need to work on, like my voice but then he also thought I did really well in Dream Girl 2, so they give me feedback but they also give me a lot of love.
You’re also in that generation where actresses are such good friends like Janhvi, Sara…
I think there have been friendships in every generation, that’s the industry that I saw growing up. I saw a lot of camaraderie, a lot of friendship, a lot of support and that’s always what I try to maintain within the industry and outside. Friendship for me is very very important. In the industry, I like Sara and Janhvi, because we always look out for each other, we’re always supporting each other. I think they are the two people out of many but specifically them, they always message me every time a trailer of mine or a song of mine comes out even if they watch a movie of mine, they’ll always send me a message or call me and it’s the same with me for them. So it’s really good to have supportive contemporaries, we all know there’s heavy competition. And I think Sara always says this, they’re the only people who know exactly what I’m going through at a certain point so it’s really easy to talk to them about how I’m feeling.
What is your OTT debut Call Me Bae all about?
It’s a full on chick flick sort of fun show, there’s a lot of comedy in that. I would give you references but I don’t know how much I’m allowed to speak about it but there’s lots of fashion, comedy, romance. There’s a little bit of everything. It’s a fun show for the youth of today and I think everyone will enjoy it even though it’s made for the youth. I can imagine every Asian loving the show.
How excited are you for The Archies? Your bestie Suhana Khan will debut with this ensemble movie.
I’m super excited! We’ve grown up reading Archies and as you said, Suhana is in it! I haven’t seen anything of it, yet I’m an eager audience member.
Lastly, a lot is written about your personal life… how do you react to it?
I feel it is a part and parcel of being an actor. Ayushmann and I kept saying during promotions that it is a double edged sword because you grow up wanting to be an actor, wanting people to recognize you, talk about you. But then again, you also want your privacy. So it’s our job to protect it.