Sayani Gupta on Jagga Jasoos: 'Ranbir Kapoor thinks from a filmmaker's perspective'
A nuanced upbringing is apparent in Sayani Gupta’s tastes and mannerisms.
After having spent her formative years in Kolkata and Delhi, Sayani’s current home is Mumbai. Though it’s a small one BHK, but the artfully decorated sea-facing apartment reveals a lot about Sayani's personality.
“I am huge art fan and so I have a lot of paintings. My all time favourite is Klimt but unfortunately I have never been to Austria. I really want to travel to Vienna as the city has huge murals of Klimt,” she says with a dash of disappointment. During her last visit to foreign shores, she purchased Fernand Khnopff’s portrait of Jeanne Kéfer, her current fascination, which depicts a little girl standing in front of a door: “It's by a Belgian painter and was done in 1885, 100 years before I was born. I recently presented the same painting to Ranbir Kapoor and its now a part of his bedroom.”
Sayani Gupta is having a dream run these days. After having won accolades for her riveting performance in Shonali Bose’s Margarita, With a Straw, the actor is winning plaudits again for India’s first original content for Amazon Prime - Inside Edge, which deals with the murky saga of Indian Cricket’s underbelly.
She is also keeping her fingers crossed for Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos and Indo-British production The Hungry, based on a play by Shakespeare.
Inside Edge has her in the role of a team analyst of a Premier League Cricket team. The initial feedback she has been getting from social media is encouraging. But clearly it’s the role of the 14-year-old girl in Jagga Jasoos that she is really charged about. It was a casual conversation with Anand Tiwari, the actor-director, who cajoled her to meet Anurag Basu and play the Bengali card.
Basu at the time was busy with his series on Tagore’s stories for Epic channel but he did mention that he was in the process of making his next film and there was a role for her. The next day proved to be painful because she ended up visiting Basu's office in short hair.
“Basu’s office has no lift and I have no idea how I climbed those stairs. He was bit surprised and asked why have I come. I told him that it was just to show the new hairstyle. Then he took my audition,” she reveals. After the audition a radio silence followed for few months, and when she was in Kolkata at her aunt’s place taking her afternoon nap, she saw some 18 missed calls from Anurag Basu.
It was a bolt from the blue as Basu wanted her to report for shooting the next morning in Mumbai.
“I think they had taken a 14-year-old girl for the role but it did not work out. Thankfully I could fit into the clothes that were meant for her,” says Sayani. She also tells me that she believes she has the mannerisms of a child, inspite being in her 30s.
It was the love of art and culture that made Sayani give up a cushioned job, which gave her six promotions in a year. When she quit the research-based firm in Delhi her salary had already touched the six-figure mark. “I don’t know why they gave me those promotions. I was all of 21 and had a lot of energy. I used to spend some 19 hours at work, and would be the last one to leave the office. I didn’t have a life honestly at that point of time,” she reveals.
One thing that Sayani is dying to do in Hindi films is to dance around trees. Despite being a trained dancer, the opportunities to dance have been few and far between. The two songs in the now forgotten Baar Baar Dekho have been the only occasions.
So is she game to do films like Rowdy Rathore or Rambo Rajkummar? “The reason I have not watched these films is because they never appealed to me and I would never do a film that I can not watch,” pat comes the reply. “But if a super commercial film like a Rohit Shetty film comes along, I would go along if I have enough to do. I love the front stall audience who take off their shirt and do all kinds of antics,” adds Sayani.
At a stint in FTII she also forged a bonding with Naseeruddin Shah. Talking about revered actors, she also learnt a lot from Ranbir Kapoor during the shot of Jagga Jasoos. “He thinks from a filmmaker’s perspective. An actor is a very small part of the film making process. I often observed him during the initial shooting days of Jagga Jasoos. He follows a very silent method and never makes it known to others. He is very mindful of the continuity of other actors. He has been fantastic in all his films though I have not seen Besharam,” she says.
So what's her greatest ambition? “I would like to be the greatest actor that has ever come out of this country,” she says. To use a cliché, only time will tell.