Sanya Malhotra on her character in Badhaai Ho: Renne is the only sane, non-judgemental person in this mad circus
Sanya Malhotra is a trained dancer but it’s only with Badhaai Ho, her third film, that we get to see her showcase her dancing prowess on screen. “It was my first time dancing in front of the camera instead of an Instagram video,” laughs Sanya, who, after playing an unconventional protagonists in Aamir Khan’s sports drama Dangal and Vishal Bhardwaj’s rustic comedy Pataakha, is joining the Bollywood mainstream as a hip Delhi Girl in the film opposite Ayushmann Khurrana. “I had a romantic angle in Pataakha as well, just that the look was different,” she says.
And when I meet Sanya, she is recuperating from an ankle fracture caused during the shoot of the Pataakha title track. Hence, it seems like the wrong day to talk to the trained ballet dancer about her passion or her dance videos. Incidentally, Sanya also has a bit of a choreographing experience as she directed the song 'Sexy Baliye' in Aamir Khan Productions’ Secret Superstar. “I break into tears if anyone talks about my dance or dance videos these days. It feels as if meri dukhti rag pe haath rakh diya ho (adding insult to my injury),” says the chirpy actress, who’s quite thrilled to be part of the quirky drama.
The story of Badhaai Ho revolves around the pregnancy of an elderly woman, who has an adult son. Sanya plays the love interest of the son played by Ayushmann Khurrana, whose character takes time to come to terms with this development in the household. “Within seconds of the narration, I gave a nod to Badhaai Ho. It is a well-written film, and I wanted to be a part of its mad circus. My character Renne, who is Nakul’s (Ayushmann) colleague and girlfriend, is the only sane and sensible person who doesn’t judge his parents and tries to explain to him that they are entitled to have sex at whatever age they want to. It’s pretty normal and it’s none of his business. My character is the only one who understands the situation and is non-judgemental,” says Sanya.
She continues, “I could relate to my character totally. In fact, I keep telling my parents to go on a vacation, go on a date. I have seen this with many parents in India that after a certain age, they become selfless and stop thinking about themselves. All the attention is showered on their kids. I feel they should have their own life.” Sanya, however, is not too surprised with the subject. “It was a pretty normal thing to happen in the earlier decades. I have seen it happen in my family as well. But to pick up such a serious topic and make a light-hearted family film is not so easy. Also, there’s a thin line between comedy and vulgarity. Amit (Sharma, director) had told us right in the beginning that he will ensure that the people who are watching will feel they are part of the family,” she says.
Working with Ayushmann wasn’t a new experience for Sanya as both did an ad together four years back, and looking at the choice of his films in the last couple of years, Sanya says she has been wanting to work with him for a while. “I saw his Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Savdhan last year and I have been thinking, 'When do I get to work with him?' When I heard he is opposite me in Badhaai Ho, I got so excited. After the narration, I immediately called his brother Aparshakti (squeals) and told him that I was working with his Ayushmann bhaiyya. The kind of work he does is so inspiring,” says Sanya.
And Sanya is in awe of Neena Gupta, the main protagonist in the film. When she heard that Gupta would be playing the mother’s part, she felt the casting perfect. “Only Neenaji could have done this role. She is so fierce, she is so confident. Personally, too, she is very inspiring. I remember reading her Instagram post recently, where she wrote that she is ready to work but people are not offering her work. She is a hell of a lady. I am a huge fan of her work. I remember watching her TV serial, Saans, with my mother, who is a big fan and was also her junior in college. It was a delight watching her improvise on the sets of Badhaai Ho,” says Sanya.
The Dangal actress, who came to Mumbai to participate in a dance reality show, had not expected the 2016 sports drama to be a career-changing experience considering that she has been getting a wide range of roles in the last two years. “Even though people had liked my work, I used to think that how would one film make a difference. But on the third day of the film’s release when I got a call from Ritesh Batra (for Photograph), I realised that things are changing,” says Sanya, who chooses her scripts instinctively. “Obviously director matters. For Pataakha, I didn’t even want any narration but Vishal sir insisted that I listen to the script, and on my off day from Badhaai Ho shoot, I went for the narration,” she says.
Before Badhaai Ho happened, the actress says she had completed work on Batra’s film, and taking up a dramedy after Batra's intense film was a challenge. "There was a huge difference. Ritesh Batra's set was like a monastery, while Amit Sharma's set had a party atmosphere. I was disoriented for about two-three days on the sets of Badhaai Ho," she adds.
Dangal and the film’s team remain special for Sanya and she always makes a point to keep them in the loop about her new assignments. “I don’t discuss work as scripts are kept confidential but whenever I have achieved something, or signed a new project, I text Aamir and my whole Dangal family. I make sure I tell them because I started my journey with them. Whatever I am today is because of Dangal,” says Sanya while Pataakha helped her shed inhibitions.
“Pataakha has taught me a lot about acting. That character was really very challenging and I had to shed all my inhibitions to play the part. We did a lot of workshops, reading…Personally, I had to change myself and not care about people looking at me. Actually I am a very shy and introverted person. I think a lot especially before doing something in public. The film helped me open up. You always learn new things with new projects and I grew up mentally after doing Pataakha,” she says.
Like most young actors, Sanya’s wish-list is also endless and she wants to remain versatile as a performer rather than being recognised by one genre. How about a masala entertainer? “I do not fear to experiment. I love watching mindless masala entertainers and I would love to work in one of those. I can put my mind into a mindless character (laughs). It isn’t difficult to break an image. I want to do films where suddenly song starts playing and I break into dance,” she guffaws. And it won't be surprising if Sanya signs choreographer Bosco Martis’s directorial debut, as rumoured. “I haven’t signed the film as of now, but we might announce something soon,” she reveals.
Updated Date: Oct 18, 2018 12:43 PM