Vishakha Singh talks exclusively to Gianysh Toolsee in a candid interview after the release of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, where she plays Pritilata Waddedar.
Thanks for taking time off from your busy schedule to talk to Planet Bollywood. I know it has been hectic the last weeks with the promotion of your latest release, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. What else have you been doing lately?
Yes, the last few weeks have been hectic. The KHJJS team was travelling all over the country to promote the film. However, in between all the madness, I found time to visit Gandhi Dham in Ahmedabad and Howrah bridge in Kolkata. I also managed to get my very own copy of Manini Chaterjee’s ‘Do and Die’, the premise for KHJJS. I love travelling and reading. So, on the whole I managed to mingle work with pleasure.
The critics have praised your performance. The role of Pritilata Waddedar was rendered with panache. How does it feel to be appreciated for your efforts, hard work and talent?
I take appreciation and criticism both with a pinch of salt. It feels wonderful to get appreciation from all quarters. I was thrilled when the critics started mentioning me in all their reviews. But I let go of all the ‘salt’ when Mr. Javed Akhtar, Mrs. Jaya Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan came forth and voiced their praises. I was on cloud nine!
What has been the feedback from the fans? Please share with us.
The feedback has been phenomenal. I think the audience for KHJJS is one with a conscience. I have received over 80 mails in the last few days from people who have sought and searched me out on the internet. The feedback ranges from ‘pretty, graceful, mature performance, simplicity, wow, awesome, fiery cool and feisty (to describe me)!
I have even had a marriage proposal! What can I say, I am stumped! The role of Pritilata Waddedar that I have essayed is not your regular glamorous role that would attract instant attention. I am humbled to have gained the respect of the audience so early in my career.
You have chosen to do a non-glamorous role after Humsey Hai Jahaan. Do you think that it can be a big risk for your image in the future, as a lead actress?
First and foremost, I believe the role chooses you and not the other way round. Spooky as it sounds, I believe Pritilata chose me. As an actor, I am greedy to essay a variety of roles as long as I connect with them. And as per the requirement of the role you decide the look. I seek good roles. Period.
I understand your view point when you say it could be a risk in getting future projects as the main lead but I don’t agree. Trust me, I know enough glamorous actresses who are jobless. No offence to them. But at the end of the day, only true talent, smart marketing and luck helps you survive in the industry.
The role of Pritilata Waddedar is a supporting character, while you are an established name in the South as a main actress and your debut in Bollywood was also that of a leading actress. Are you afraid of being type-cast in similar roles or in supporting roles?
Define what is a main lead and a supporting actor? If the main protagonist of the script is the lead actor then in that case, all the actors in KHJJS except Surjya Sen, are supporting actors. If the length of your role or if your popularity in the industry is the criteria to be adjudged ‘supporting actor’ then I cannot debate that. These aside, let me put it on record that I was specifically signed on as ‘the leading lady ‘of the film and that is what my contract mentions. A film like Rajneeti had a lot of actors playing the main lead. I guess it’s how you have perceived my role (smiles).
As far as being typecast is concerned, I don’t dwell on these issues too much. I can mould myself to play anything or anyone. And as far as my role is pivotal, little tags of ‘actress in leading, supporting, villain , comedy’ etc roles don’t bother me.
Your first film in Bollywood was released under the famous banner of Kamal Amrohi, and your second release is under the batons of renowned director Ashutosh Gowariker. Isn’t that already some sort of achievement? What do you think?
Yes, working with Ashutosh Gowariker is definitely an achievement. It’s a privilege to have worked with him. The bar has been raised for me.
What kind of rapport did you share with your co-stars?
I love the team of KHJJS. The film we were making was very sincere and earnest and there was utmost dedication required. But we had a lot of fun on the set. Starting from being secluded in Sawantwadi for months and getting to know each other to having fun on the set. It was all work and all play with the team.
I still call Abhishek Bachchan ‘Masterda’. He has an amazing sense of humour. And he made us eat a lot of good food! Deepika is a thorough professional. Actresses can learn lessons of punctuality from her! Sikandar is a brilliant actor. Not many know that he has the potential to be the ‘Jim Carrey’ of India. He had us in splits all the time.
Maninder has a fire which shows on screen and I called him ‘pretty boy’ on the set because his hair needed to have a certain flick which could be achieved only after wearing a clip! Shreyas is the most natural actor and in his free time loved watching Tom and Jerry. Samrat Mukherjee was our in house palmist and heath instructor. We played jenga, TT and a whole lot of games. Feroz is the most composed one of the lot, very caring and elder brother figure. My funniest memory of Feroz is us spraying ‘Hit’ in his room after spotting a baby snake!!
And the teenagers!! Dynamite actors who hated being called ‘bachcha party’ by me. We called them the ‘Mumbai Teens’.
I caught the movie over the weekend and I can say that you share the same screen time like Deepika Padukone. You also appear first in the film before her. Your thoughts?
There is nothing to it. It was Ashu Sir’s vision and decision. We were all secure in our space as our roles’ boundaries were very well defined.
Did you receive any training on how to handle the rifle, because you did very well?
I found the .303 rifle very heavy to handle. Thank God, the rifles were loaded with fake bullets and all safety precautions were taken. The first time I took the rifle I actually put my hand on the trigger and misfired, almost hitting the light man with the bullet. Thankfully he had a thermocole in his hand which acted as a shield! Later, I discovered that the rifle was not for me. Pritilata used a revolver. I practised a lot with the revolver as I had a problem pulling the trigger of that one. Guess, I am a very peace loving person. Guns are not my toys (smiles). Having said that, I would love to do a ‘Kill Bill’ one day.
You haven’t had any release post Humsey Hai Jahaan. Why is that?
As an actor, I can only go on working. Post Humsey Hai Jahaan I did a Hindi film, 2 Kannada films, 1 Tamil film and an English film. I have had my hands full. South kept me really busy. Fortunately KHJJS came just at the right time to hook me back into the Hindi film industry.
You also completed shooting for Coffee Shop and Do Aur Do Paanch, which are still unreleased. Do you know when these movies are releasing?
I can safely say Do Aur Do Paanch shall not be releasing. It was a learning experience and I have moved on. Coffee Shop may be releasing next year.
Which roles would you like to sign in the future?
As I said earlier, I am a greedy actor. I wish to do all kinds of roles, as long as they are meaty, pivotal and an integral part of the plot.
Which song have been you been listening lately?
Lately, I have been listening to Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’s title track, 'Naiyn Tere' which is filmed on me and Deepika and 'Vande Mataram'. I love the translation of the song to Hindi. It gives me goose bumps.
Tell us a about your international film ‘The Genius of Beauty’.
The Genius of Beauty is a crazy, zany guy flick directed by Aarin Mehta, produced by Imagical Arts of Singapore, starring actors from the U.S, U.K, New Zealand, Indonesia and India. I play the main lead in that. An 18 year old girl unsure of herself who undergoes cosmetic surgery and ends up with a contorted face! I had a blast shooting with all the prosthetics work on me!
What are your future plans?
My answer to this one still remains the same Gianysh, as it was 2 years ago (laughs) - I don’t plan. I am a maverick. Que Sera Sera!
All the best Vishakha!
Thank you so much.
For more information about Vishakha Singh, check out her website: http://vishakhasingh.net/
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