Doing movies in so many languages keeps me balanced – Shraddha Das
Shraddha Das was first noticed in the National Award-winning movie Lahore. Her dreams of becoming an actress started in 1994 with Sushmita Sen winning the Miss Universe title. The actress, who has marked her presence in the South with Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam films, and is also an active part of Bengali cinema, will now be seen in Great Grand Masti where she plays Aftab Shivdasani’s chic wife.
In a chat with Pandolin, Das shares the excitement of being part of the Masti franchise, her character in the film and how she juggles films in different languages.
How did you bag Great Grand Masti?
I first met the director, Indra Kumar, a couple of months before the shooting of the movie was going to start. By then, the cast (of the film) was already finalized. I almost forgot about it and was working on a film called ‘Sanam Teri Kasam.’ During the shoot of that film, I got a call from the Great Grand Masti team to meet them. They had already started shooting the film. So I went to meet them and was given a scene to enact. I think they wanted somebody who could work very quickly, as in, work within a lesser number of takes. Because it was a big cast and if people kept taking time it would be a problem, so they wanted a good actor. The director narrated a scene to me, which I did for the camera and that was it! I signed the film on the same day and was onboard.
Tell us about the character that you play in the film.
I play Aftab Shivdasani’s wife Nisha. I am the only one who has a very modern, contemporary and chic look in the film, which is slightly inspired from Gauri Khan. Nisha has a younger sister and she bothers more about her than her husband and hence they have issues between them. I play an innocent wife, but it’s not a cliché role as she is not the typical traditional wife. Also, I would like to add that this film is very similar to the first movie, where there were three wives. The three wives had a good amount of importance in the first film and that is the case in this film as well.
The adult jokes have been toned down a little in this film
Being the third film in the franchise, how different is the comedy from the earlier films?
The first film was more content and story based; there were not many adult jokes. The second movie was full of adult jokes. In this movie, the adult jokes have been toned down a little and there is more of a story to it. Moreover, there is a ghost, so that brings another angle to the comedy.
Does comedy easily to you? How did you prepare for your role?
I was very nervous on the first day that I went to shoot the film because I have seen the cast since I was in school, and now I was working with them! Sharing the frame with them was an overwhelming feeling. I was also nervous because their comic timing is perfect. Since they know each other so well, from so many years, their comic timing is brilliant and that is very difficult to match up to it. But we have tried matching it because everyone’s dialogues come one after the other. If you miss the timing, the entire thing will fall flat.
Although I am just 3-4 films old in Hindi cinema, but the experience of having previously done so many films (in South and Bengali) helped me a lot here. After the different characters that I have played and the comedy films that I have done, it just becomes like any other genre of films and you can do it easily.
Since this is an adult comedy, was there any nervousness in taking up the role?
The best part is that even though this movie is a sex comedy, I play a very simple and clean role. I am very happy with that. I am the safest one in the movie (laughs). I have a typical contemporary character, just like any other film. I am covered from head to toe, but at the same time I balance the entire act; I am neither extremely traditional nor am I over-the-top bold. I am very happy to be part of such a popular film, but in a role that is balanced.
How different is this film from your earlier Hindi films?
My first commercial film was Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, which had Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and others, but all my scenes were with Omi Vaidya. In Great Grand Masti we had a lot of combination scenes. But with this movie, I was tensed because, like I said, I had to match up to the comic timing of these actors. So I had to always be very attentive and would not really joke around too much because I was constantly in ‘attention mode’. I had to make sure that I was saying the dialogue at the correct time. I think that’s why this movie was different because I was constantly on my toes.
I am very happy to be part of such a popular film, but in a role that is balanced
What do you look for in a film – be it down South or in Hindi cinema? Also how do you juggle between the different industries?
I don’t understand the word ‘juggle’. At the end of the day, be it any language, you are acting a character out. It is the language that can be bit of a problem, but for me language is very easy. I tend to pick up languages very fast. I even sang a song in Telugu. At the end of the day you are acting and the main reason why I wanted to do films is because I know my job really well. I wanted to be in films because I want to act and portray different characters.
Also, I think doing movies in so many languages keeps you very balanced. While doing films in Bollywood, you end up being very careful. If I have done a ‘Lahore’, which is a very serious film, then I have also done a ‘Zid’ where I played a sensuous, sexy character. Then I played a Radio Jockey in ‘Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji’ and now I am playing a chic wife in Great Grand Masti. So I have been very slow and careful in doing films here. Regional films help me balance out my work and they don’t make me rush in to signing something wrong.
As an actor, how different is the work culture and experience down South as compared to Bollywood?
The acting is the same, but the respective industries have their own way of working. So work timings are different or the grandeur is different in some films. But again, all industries have a huge budget film, a mid-level film and a small budget film. For every film, the production is very different from each other. But there’s one thing that I would say for the South, even if you do one film there that is popular, people immediately recognize you with your name and the character’s name. They love you a lot and you are instantly famous in the South. While in Bollywood it is very rare for that to happen. I think that is a very big difference. I do Bengali films because it is my mother tongue, so there is an emotional aspect attached to it. And my father wants me to do them because he feels very proud, to show-off in front of his relatives (smiles).
At the end of the day, be it any language, you are acting a character out
What kind of roles do you aspire to do in the future? What are your upcoming projects?
I want to balance it out. The reason why I did Great Grand Masti was also because it is a film that would make me a little popular among people and it also opens a lot of avenues for me. On one hand, I would like to do a film like Masaan and also do a commercial film on the other hand. I want to be known as a very good actress, who can do any kind of role.