Sulemani Keeda is unpretentious and non-judgemental – Aditi Vasudev
The pretty Aditi Vasudev has carved a niche for herself with films like Do Dooni Char, Talaash and now Sulemani Keeda to her credit. As the films gears up for release, the actress tells Pandolin what drew her to Sulemani Keeda and why Ruma is so close to her.
How did your foray into acting happen?
I quit college straight after school, and had to figure out fairly quickly what I wanted to do with myself. I’ve always been acting and was very involved in drama in school. I came to Bombay to train a little so that I could get into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. I joined the Barry John School for three months, and pretty soon realized I had a lot to learn. The Bombay theater scene was so vibrant and welcoming, I decided to stay for a bit to see how things worked out. So, no formal training yet but at the same time I’ve worked with some great directors, which is always an acting school in itself.
I think Amit (Director of Sulemani Keeda) saw me in an interview and wanted to cast me. We met once long ago and I remember not being too keen because at that time the script was just a work in progress. We met again a year later, and by the fourteenth page I was laughing unstoppably and calling him, telling him I’d love to do it.
Tell us about the character of Ruma. What sets this role apart from the previous roles played by you?
Ruma is an intelligent, driven, confident and sensitive young person, with great dreams of her own and an empowerment that is typical of the young people you meet in Bombay. She’s practical and fanciful at the same time; I love that combination in her. The past couple of roles I’ve done are dissimilar in the way that those girls were more molded by their circumstances than Ruma, who definitely has a sense of controlling her own destiny. She’s stronger and more fearless, though I feel all the characters I’ve played have had great inner strength. And she sees that in Dulal’s character. I feel Ruma also empowers on some level.
Was it easy to get into this character? Did you do any referencing for the part?
I have a lot of photographer friends and I’ve always been a little fascinated by them. I think it does something to you, looking through a lens. They see everything very clearly and then proceed to find beauty in it. They are oceans of calm, and at the same time very colorful. It’s a unique thought process. So, yes, I did some referencing, and picked up some mannerisms, but on the whole Ruma has been closer to me than some other characters I’ve played, we are both choosing to do what we love. She’s a lot more mature, though. So, while it’s never easy, it was definitely more comfortable to slip into Ruma.
Please tell us about the kind of preparation you had to do.
While we had cast readings once or twice, we were all aware that once the shoot started there would be no time to discuss anything. We met for several sessions where we spoke a lot about the film, and basically came on the same page in terms of where we wanted the scenes to go. Amit is a great director that way; he communicates very clearly what he wants the vibe to be and then gives you the freedom to do your thing. We spoke about all the scenes that we thought were turning points, which explained more about the characters involved and dissected them in terms of action. I remember once hugging Naveen for fifteen straight minutes to get the feelings exactly right. Basically, we rehearsed and talked and drank many cups of tea.
What was Amit’s brief to you for the role?
Right before shoot, Amit and I went for a coffee, and he spoke to me about what he wanted from Ruma. Despite having recently told me that his Ruma was somewhat inspired by me, I think he was still unsure as to how I would play her, considering he had known the other actors earlier. But he showed great faith and told me to be myself and to be mostly honest.
How was it sharing screen space with Naveen and Mayank considering they are relatively new to the field of acting? Did that pose a challenge in any way?
Not at all. As co-actors I feel we were continually exploring something new together, pushing some sort of invisible boundaries. I liked adjusting to Naveen’s edgy honesty. Yes, there are some things, like how to be conscious about your lighting or how to improvise within the restraints of your character; basically things that save time on set once you know them. But Naveen is brilliant, very quick with a scathing sense of humor. I didn’t have too many scenes with Mayank, I wish I did, I think he’s hilarious.
The most challenging aspect of your character was? And how did you overcome it?
She’s the perfect girl! Well, at least I think so. I just had to find that in me, and not have any time for self-doubts or any insecurities we always put ourselves through, as people.
How would you describe the overall experience of being part of Sulemani Keeda? One reason why people should watch it?
It was a lot of work, in terms of emotions, deadlines, shooting on a budget, shooting on the streets, shooting on the sly. In a small film, your circle of attention as concerns the whole process is a lot larger, you’re not as insulated as you are on bigger films, you’re feeling a lot more and the whole thing is a lot more intense. But, honestly, in retrospect, it feels like all of it was one big party. The whole crew really bonded together. There was a sense of making something together, and it was a lot of fun. We’re all really proud of it, and that’s one great reason for watching a film right there. It’s also everyone’s story. We’re all, to varying degrees, in a state of flux in our lives, and this film is about that phase. It’s unpretentious and non-judgmental. It’s fun.
What advice would you give to young people aspiring to get into acting?
Theater. Do lots of theater. I haven’t done as much theater as I would like, and I’m working on correcting that. It’s just a great place to learn things.
Tell us a bit more about your upcoming projects.
Shows of my play, Bull, happen soon. Apart from that, I shoot some things next year, which I guess I’ll talk about then.