Shikha Talsania on Veere Di Wedding: I didn't look at it as a female-oriented film; I see no gender in a story

Seema Sinha

Jun,06 2018 14:46:26 IST

For most actors, especially someone who has been a character artiste for years and has hardly been visible in the public eye, to pull it off in a big ticket ensemble, and that too alongside two of Bollywood’s reigning queens – Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, is quite rare. In the recent release, Veere Di Wedding – the female buddy film that has set the cash register ringing at the box office, Shikha Talsania has managed to grab a lot of attention with her meaty part and acting prowess. She plays a young mother who marries without her parents’ consent in this Shashanka Ghosh film. Though it was a different scenario during the movie promotions when the questions were mostly bounced at the A-listers, Talsania took it on her chin and was quite sporting about it. But when it came to the big screen, never once did she get overshadowed by the top actresses. Besides bagging the dream project, she was fortunate enough to get some of the best dialogues as well.

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Shikha Talsania, Swara Bhasker and Kareena Kapoor Khan in a still from Veere Di Wedding. YouTube

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Shikha Talsania, Swara Bhasker and Kareena Kapoor Khan in a still from Veere Di Wedding. YouTube

“C’mon, it is not just everyone else, even my attention would go on Kareena and Sonam all the time (laughs). They are such fantastic actors. They are also very warm people, they welcomed me with open arms. And I never got worried about the length of my role, I was just happy to be part of something like this. For me, working as a character artiste for so many years and then to be part of such a big project was like dream come true. Also, I have always believed that there are no small parts or small actor. I was so grateful that I was part of an ensemble, was playing protagonist and that too playing it with Kareena, Sonam and Swara (Bhasker). The character, the story is so fantastic, so it doesn’t matter how much screen time you have,” said Talsania, who’s suddenly finding herself in a different space. Her phone has been ringing incessantly.

“Right now, it is such a crazy situation. I don’t have any time even for myself. I have been busy replying to endless congratulatory messages. But I am missing everybody on the sets and it feels like a vacuum now,” she says and fondly recounts a compliment on Twitter that said, ‘I would never guess that Shikha Talsania is not a Punjabi, is not married and doesn’t have a kid’. That was really lovely,” she says.

Having started her career in Bollywood with the 2009 hit film Wake Up Sid in which she played this cute, chubby friend of Ranbir Kapoor, the actress worked with director Deepa Mehta in Midnight’s Children and Madhur Bhandarkar in Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji but it seems like she finally got visibility with Veere Di Wedding. “After Wake Up Sid, I acted in many digital films apart from feature films. In some, my part got edited out. I was offered some films that were never made. I was also doing theatre so a lot of things were going on,” she said, who got excited about suddenly seeing herself on the film's posters. “When you wish to become an actress, you always have that desire to see yourself on a film’s poster. People have sent me screenshots that I am driving my car and suddenly I see myself on posters and I was like, ‘Oh my god!’”

While she attributes her entry into the acting scene to her father, the seasoned actor Tiku Talsania and the environment around her,  the actress says that she found her feet in the industry through her own efforts. “When you are a kid, you always want to get into the profession your parents are into,” Talsania said. “I decided that this is what I need to do in my life. Then after that, there has been lot of (laughs) existential angst that everybody goes through to figure whether is this something you want to do. At times, I did had the question in my mind about whether I was doing this just because that’s the environment I had grown up in,” she said.

However, initially when Rhea Kapoor, producer, and chief director, Karan Boolani,  approached her for the part, Talsania was a bit skeptical because the first two lines sounded to her as the same clichéd subject that people have been wanting to make with her. “Rhea and I have known each other since Wake Up Sid because Rhea has worked on that project. She and Karan suggested my name and Mukesh Chhabra called me for a screen test. But the first time when they gave me a two-liner, I was like, “Oho, again the same story, the same issue of obesity, but the minute I was explained my role, I felt there was something magical. You don’t get projects like this where you have people like me playing protagonist. For me, everything has been surreal. We were expecting people to relate to it for sure but such an explosion is just mind-boggling and I’m super duper excited," said Talsania, who has waited endlessly for good roles to come her way. “The industry and the way it functions, there was always this anxiety of getting a good part to play. I have never ever looked at something as the protagonist’s role or the vamp’s role. I was just hungry for work. I just wanted good, challenging work and meet fantastic people along the way,” said Talsania.

“I did not look at Veere as a female-oriented film. I see no gender in a story because for an actor like me, a good character and a good story are the deciding factors for a film. In Veere, I think each character is very relatable and that is what I liked about the film. I think we all have met these girls in our daily lives. I have known people like Meera (Talsania's character in the film),” she added.

While the success has yet to sink in, Talsania is hoping that Veere turns out be a game-changer and paves way for many such projects that are close to reality. “One can expect more well rounded scripts and characters, the audience is upbeat about films with real characters and real stories. I can see more such fantastic films happening. From Wake Up Sid to now I did a lot of theatre, digital work and I know that there is an audience for it. I have been doing  it for nine years now. You also need producers like Rhea and Ekta Kapoor to make such films and put up on a scale like that. I hope that it keeps getting better. We will have scripts that are well etched out, there is an upward trend,” signs off Talsania, hoping that her phone keps ringing with more people calling her for many more interesting parts as days go by.

(Also read: Why Veere Di Wedding is a feminist film despite Kareena, Sonam and cast's assertions to the contrary)

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 14:46 PM