Yami Gautam on Sarkar 3 co-star Amitabh Bachchan: 'When I met him, I couldn’t say a word'

Seema Sinha

May,12 2017 13:21:04 IST

Yami Gautam is on a roll. The actress, who made her debut with the offbeat Vicky Donor (2012), entered the big league with Kaabil (2017) opposite Hrithik Roshan. Now, she's part of the political thriller Sarkar 3 alongside Amitabh Bachchan. In a quick chat, Yami talks about her first intense, grey character, working with Bachchan, Ram Gopal Varma, and getting 'dragged' into the fairness cream controversy. Excerpts:

When Ram Gopal Varma offered you Sarkar 3, what was your reaction?

I was definitely very surprised. I was also excited and flattered when I got a call and at the same time, a bit intrigued about 'What am I doing in the film?'. I was very curious to know what the role was. When he (Ram Gopal Varma) told me that you play this character which has a negative element, I asked him — why me? He replied that we have seen you in a certain genre of films but it will be very exciting to see you in an evil role in a film like this. He felt that in the midst of all the menacing and evil characters, it will be interesting to see a pretty, petite woman as he thinks all beautiful women are mean in their hearts and it’s easy to get it out [laughs]. It’s a rare opportunity, I didn’t have to think much and just be part of the franchise. Also, as an actor, I want to bring out my diversity as much as I can.

How did you prepare for the character?

I asked Ramu sir that what did he want me to do. He said, ‘Nothing’. I was only told that I essay Annu Karkare who is determined to kill Amitabh Bachchan’s character, Subhash Nagre. I was surprised. I have not even seen a gun fire in real life. He told me, ‘There is a mystery about your character. Just come on the sets the way you are. You are a sensible actor. I don’t want you to come with any baggage’. The moment I reached the set, I realised the importance of what he told me. We first emphasised on getting the look of the character right. If you are feeling right about the way you style for a character, I think your work starts from there. But yes, there was lot of mental preparation. I have this phobia of crackers and noise, I haven’t gone beyond lighting sparklers during Diwali. So I had to mentally prepare myself, and now when I see the rushes, I am amazed because I didn’t realise how they were shooting then. I may be scared of a hundred things, it could be any phobia but I don’t want to create any blocks in my mind.

Yami Gautam in a still from Sarkar 3

Yami Gautam in a still from Sarkar 3

How is Ram Gopal Varma as a director?

He doesn’t talk much on the sets. His way of working is very different. He is very specific about what he wants. He will not take an extra ‘hmm’ and will cut it. We are used to hearing ‘good shot’ or ‘very good shot’ from directors. He just says ‘okay’. I was ‘okay’ till three shots. After the fourth shot, I walked up to him and asked, 'Am I doing just okay? Do you think I can do better?' And he replied, ‘My okay means excellent!’ Also, the extra camera work which he adds to a scene contributes a lot to the depth of your character.

How was your experience working with Amitabh Bachchan?

He was one of the reasons for me to accept the role. Whether an actor has worked with him or not, he has touched everybody’s life, he is such a rare personality. Without even a single dialogue, he can convey emotions with his expressions. There is so much to learn from his diction, language...it was remarkable. Subhash Nagre is an iconic character. I watched the first installment of the film when I was in college. The film carries a lot of nostalgia. I had thought that when I meet him, I would tell him the list of his movies which I have watched and that I am his huge fan. But when I finally met him, I couldn’t say anything. He makes you feel so special. He connects not just to the person sitting beside him but even to the person sitting in the 100th row!

What do you have in mind while choosing a project?

I am not a Mumbai girl. I am not an industry kid. I am not a trained actor. It doesn’t necessarily happen that what you want to do, you will be offered that kind of a film. My priorities are always director, script and role. I believe you should always keep working hard and focus on improving your skills. Also, accept your failures and magic will happen. Even if you are from the industry, it is only your hard work and talent which will take you there and nothing else.

How would you react to the dig Abhay Deol made at all those actors who endorse fairness brands since you are the brand ambassador of the product that openly promotes fair skin?

I usually do not comment on anybody’s personal opinions. First of all, I am also a woman, I am also part of women empowerment (sic). I am self-made, I am working hard. It’s my life, it’s my choice. I will not run my career on somebody else’s ideologies. Secondly, I see it as an opportunity for a healthy change. The kind of ads which used to run 20 years ago, they can’t be run today, they shouldn’t be running today. Despite endorsing the product, I’m saying all this. And this product was born before I came into the world. If a product has to endorse itself and advertise its brand, please go ahead and do it. But, to put down or to underline that if you don’t use this cream or if you are not fair, it’s something to be upset about, then it’s not right. So, I saw this very clearly that I don’t shy away from this question. I think it’s very important and I’m glad something like this is happening. But to try and make a statement is different, and to take an action is something else. You can’t tell me to stop. But, yes it’s time for a change and the brands are taking this into consideration and they should do so. They are working on these guidelines where you are free to promote or advertise a product, but to show that if you don’t or if you are not fair and that it’s something to be upset about, then it’s not correct.

What is your take on social media, how do you handle it?

Social media is a different world altogether. Everybody has their own ideology, it can be taken in a positive or negative manner. Anybody can write anything, but as a policy I don’t comment on people’s personal opinion. At the end of the day, we are all sensitive people. So if you can handle it, you can go ahead. But I don’t take social media very seriously. Also, these days, even a small matter is dragged to a great extent. Sometimes we are asked to react on political issues which are often sensitive. I wonder if my opinion on that particular issue really matters and is really important, or you are asking me for the sake of your show’s TRPs? I think the media also needs to have a little filter.

Updated Date: May 12, 2017 13:21 PM