Tara Sutaria on doing Marjaavaan after Student of the Year 2: It's more challenging, since I play a mute girl
Tara Sutaria discusses how she has evolved from Student of the Year 2 to Marjaavaan, star kids, and why she missed out on doing Kabir Singh.
Tara Sutaria stepped into the limelight earlier this year with the sequel of Karan Johar’s hit Student Of The Year (SOTY), co-starring Tiger Shroff and Ananya Panday. She essayed the character of a college student, and Shroff’s childhood sweetheart in this teen drama and a ‘bubble-gum’ romance.
But in her second film, Marjaavaan, touted to be a violent, dramatic love story, she plays an intense character of a mute girl, opposite Sidharth Malhotra. “There is lot of crying and emoting, and especially since my character is mute, I had to express a lot with my hands and sign language. There is more scope to perform differently in Marjaavaan, whereas Student of the Year 2 was lot more fun. I suppose this one was far more challenging,” she says.
However, the transition was smooth, she says. “Marjaavaan can be called as an over-the-top, larger-than-life massy commercial film, which is very different from SOTY 2. But it was not a challenge. We are actors, and we have to be comfortable with everything and anything. During Student of the Year 2, we were like babies, we were protected. That one was about teenagers, and this one is a very serious film, and a completely different ballgame. But I love emotional films, and just to be part of such a different dramatic and emotional world, it feels great.”
“The only stress for me was to get the sign language right because I didn’t want anyone from the deaf community to point a finger, and say she didn’t do it right,” she adds. Tara prepped for Marjaavaan while she was shooting for Student of the Year 2. “There was a coach, who would come home for a few hours every evening after my Student of the Year 2 shoot. I worked on it for five months before I started shooting for Marjaavaan,” she says.
With an average run at the box office, her debut film, that opened to mixed reviews, got both bouquets and backlash. But Tara says she was ecstatic seeing the kind of attention the film got. “I didn’t even realise that the critics are going to talk about it, and thousands and thousands of people will watch it. Reactions were mostly great but there will always be some critique, which is fine. I am always open to that. I have been in this line of work for a long time so I am used to criticism. I think there is a lot of learning to be taken from the criticism. I’m glad it’s there, and it's absolutely welcome,” says the budding actress, who has worked as a VJ on Disney Channel India, followed by doing two successful sitcoms with the channel. Tara is also a singer, and has recorded and performed solo concerts in India and abroad.
For someone who often brings up that she hails from a non-filmy background during the conversation, it was important to know whether she feared getting overshadowed by having two star-kids, Tiger Shroff and Ananya Panday, as her co-stars in her debut vehicle. Denying the same, Tara, who comes from a Parsi family that is “creative and art-oriented”, says, “If you perform to the best of your ability in the character you have been given then nobody can take that away from you. Honestly, I didn’t feel any pressure, and everyone faces the same kind of pressure when you are doing a film, irrespective of where you come from. You have to do well, and give your best because you are as good as your last film. This applies to both people from inside and outside the industry. There have been actors who have done just 15-minute roles, and then there’s a lead actor who has had one-and-a-half hour of more screen time but the one with a smaller role has stood out. Look at Tabu. She comes in a film for just five minutes, and she is all you talk about.”
However, when coaxed further whether she feels like an outsider, as many of the industry kids were childhood friends, Tara admits to feeling left out. “You have no idea what is going on, especially in parties, as they have their own conversation, and then, I am an extremely shy person. I am held back and reserved, which is something I am working on. But I think that will always be there because they are childhood friends. But if you hold your own, and you are true to yourself then there is no real problem. I haven’t really understood this whole concept of insider-outsider. It is a profession. It is a job at the end of the day. People from the industry may not be thinking like that so there is lot to learn from that, and lot to understand about it. It is all a little baffling for me right now."
"I do understand a lot of them have grown up with each other, and their parents know each other. That is great but I feel we have all come here to work, we are not here to talk about each other’s friends and families.”
With the new crop of star-kids stepping out of their comfort zone to take up challenging parts, how does she view competition? Does she keep a tab on who is taking up what projects? “When people constantly talk about the existence of so many young actors around and there is so much competition, I don’t think that way. I feel we have room for all of us, and we have already shown what space we are really in. For example, what Ananya and Sara (Ali Khan) can do, I can’t do, and vice-versa. We should all take a step back, and say, ‘Hey, let’s calm down, and empower each other’. We shouldn’t be talking about pitting women against each other anymore. It may be good to be insecure because that makes you hungry to do better but I have been performing for a long time, and if I was insecure, it would have shown. I am very crazy about what I do but I don’t think I am an insecure person,” she says.
“Look”, she continues, “I grew up in a non-filmy background and I come from a very art-oriented creative home. I was raised with a twin sister and when you grow up with a sibling, especially a twin, you do everything together. You do nothing but empower each other. I know we are in a time when everything is about feminism, and I support that but I don’t think I can look at females as competition because I have always performed my whole life with other women. My sister and I have always supported each other, and there was never a question of competition.”
Next, Tara will start shooting with newcomer (and another star-kid, of Suniel Shetty) Ahan Shetty this month for her third film, which is a remake of Telugu action hit RX 100. “We will announce the title of the film soon, and I am dying for everyone to see its first look. It is a very different role for me. It is similar to the original film but it has a few differences. Ahan and I get along very well. He is sweet and shy, and a little bit like me. But he completely transforms on screen,” she says.
And had things worked in her favour, Tara would have been part of one of the top grossers of this year, Kabir Singh, opposite Shahid Kapoor. Kabir Singh was offered to her while she was shooting for Student of the Year 2. “No, I don’t regret but I really wanted to work with Shahid and Sandeep Reddy sir. I had watched Arjun Reddy about 20 times. We took a bit long to complete Student of the Year 2, and I couldn’t figure out how to manage both the shoots, and it wouldn’t have been right to cancel the dates. But in retrospect, when I watched Kabir Singh, I loved it. I feel there wouldn’t have been a better ‘Kabir’ and ‘Preeti’ than Shahid and Kiara (Advani),” she says.
So far, Tara’s choice of films fall under the commercial and massy zone. She has not yet planned her selection of films in the future but she is keen on doing a musical. “I'm constantly thinking about what I want to do next. There are so many people I want to work with. It's a great time, as a woman, to be a part of this industry. But I don’t really plan. I have been lucky this year with these three films coming to me at the best time ever. I haven’t planned very much, and I just know that next year, I definitely plan to sing in my films. That is something I am really passionate about. I would want to do a musical film, and I want to crack it in the next few months. I have also been offered some lovely films down South but I am unable to do them because I have been busy here but I am open to every kind of film,” she says.
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