Sakshi Tanwar is a household name who has ruled our television screens for quite a while now. After winning millions of hearts first as Parvati Agarwal (Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki) and then Priya Kapoor (Bade Achhe Lagte Hai), the actress is now gaining immense appreciation for her portrayal of Daya Kaur, wife of Mahavir Singh Phogat, in Dangal.

As the movie hits theater, we caught up with Sakshi to know more about her role in the film, the preparation process, her upcoming web series and more.

Sakshi Tanwar -

Sakshi Tanwar

How were you approached for Dangal? What was your reaction on being part of such an anticipated film?

When I first got a call from Mukesh Chhabra’s (Casting Director) agency I thought that it was all part of a prank; I didn’t believe it. I went and met Mukesh and asked him about the role. He told me to close my eyes and sign the film. Later, I went to meet Aamir Khan and within two minutes he said, “Let’s do a scene”. We did the scene, which is in the trailer as well, and also did a couple of variations of it. Post that there were discussions about dates and I said I was free for the dates that they were looking at.

It was while I was on my way home from that meeting that I got a message from Mr. Khan, so I called him back. I clearly remember that I told my drive to stop the car before I made the call. Aamir Khan picked up the call and said, “Welcome to Dangal, you’re on board”. It all happened so fast that it didn’t sink in; I didn’t have time to believe it. Somewhere I was happy and had a lot of emotions going on, but I didn’t know which emotion to choose because I couldn’t believe that I was part of Dangal. I was so scared that I didn’t tell anyone.

Before I could come to terms with this role, the news was in the papers. There was a press release saying Sakshi Tanwar has been chosen for the role of Daya Shobha Kaur. I remember that I didn’t respond to any journalist as I did not want to be the one to say that I was doing the film because God forbid, if it didn’t work out, then I wouldn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t believe it till I saw the trailer (laughs).

Did you get a chance to meet Daya Kaur? How did you prepare for the role and how did director Nitesh Tiwari help you understand the character?

My preparation was largely related to the language, which was taken care of by Sunita Sharma. My casting happened towards the latter part of the movie. Therefore, I didn’t get combined reading time or language sessions with everyone. I trained with Sunita Sharma. We would go through all my scenes, she would then speak the dialogues and I would speak after her. There was very little time so I recorded my lines in her voice and would keep listening to it in my car. My driver thought that I had lost my mind because I would just keep repeating my lines in Haryanvi (laughs).

Nitesh sir’s brief helped me prepare for the character. He gave me the characterization, the journey of the character, the contribution of the character to the main story, her equation with the husband and daughters, the look of the character; everything was given. And I just followed that throughout the film. His brief was so good and precise that I completely understood the character. Even while shooting the scenes, if at all I would have some confusion, I would go and ask him the emotions that we were trying to convey and he would give me such precise instructions. I could not meet Daya Kaur before the filming, therefore, I had no point of reference, and did not know who I was playing. I had just seen a photograph of her and that’s it, so I was entirely reliant on the brief that was given to me.

Sakshi Tanwar -

With Aamir Khan in a still from Dangal

How was your experience of working with the young artists that play your daughters?

They are outstanding! When I saw them I thought that they are going to play a lot of mischief on the set. Most of my scenes were with the younger girls. I thought I would have a tough time with them because shooting with children is a bit more difficult as they have their own moods. They would do so much masti (mischief) before a shot, but the minute Nitesh sir would say action, they would transform. They would just become the characters. They are so young yet the kind of depth you see in their characters, especially in Zaira Wasim (young Geeta), comes so naturally to them. It was such an amazing experience to work with them. I was thoroughly impressed. As for Fatima (Shaikh) and Sanya (Malhotra) they don’t look like first timers, there were so confident and well prepared with their language, body language, emotions, everything, it was amazing. I had a great time shooting with all four of them.

How would you describe Aamir Khan as a co-star?

I used to think that he would be very serious because he has that image. I thought that the discussions on set would be serious and other than work, he would just sit in one corner, reading a book or so. But when I came to meet him for the first time he was so unlike the super star Aamir Khan, he is so simple, down – to – earth and warm. I didn’t see that element of stardom even once, never through the filming and never otherwise, so I was pleasantly surprise.

Sakshi Tanwar -

With the team of Dangal

Coming to your other projects, you are set to make your digital debut with Ram Kapoor. What drew you to this medium?

Ekta (Kapoor) called me and told me about the web series. My prime criteria for saying yes was that it has just 14 episodes and I was needed only for 30 days. Plus, I started my television journey with Ekta and since they were coming up with a digital platform, it made sense to get into a new territory with a known platform. It is a new and growing medium of entertainment and I wanted to try it.

Having majorly been part of television, what is your take regarding the current content that one sees on television?

Television is such a powerful medium and has such an immense reach, so I really feel that people who decide the content on television should take up subjects that are more relevant and progressive. We need more finite series, so that there is a start and finish to the story and to the character’s graph as well. I really hope that more shows like 24 or P.O.W.- Bandi Yuddh Ke are attempted. If we show good and relevant stories to the audience, people will surely see that as well, we just need to try a little harder.