‘I had to take myself beyond Aisha’

<i>Amrita Puri says her character in Kai Po Che counters the image from her debut film</i>

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published:February 28, 2013 1:27 am

Her latest film,Kai Po Che,can be called an unintended antithesis of Amrita Puri’s first — Aisha. While the latter,a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma,was India’s first chick flick,Kai Po Che! rests on its three male protagonists and is adapted from Chetan Bhagat’s bestseller Three Mistakes of My Life.

“I am the only woman in the film. No other female character from the book,even minor ones such as the boys’ mothers,have been included,” says Puri,who plays the sole love interest,called Vidya,in the film that released recently.

Though appreciated in her debut film,Puri has done only two other films (including her recent) in the three years since Aisha. She attributes this to her refusal to get stereotyped. The only roles she was offered following Aisha,explains the actor,were of a small-town behenji from North India. “Soon after Aisha,Anil Kapoor advised me to be cautious about getting slotted,even if that meant not doing films for years,” she recounts.

Puri’s chance came last year with Blood Money,a film that was unlike the glossy Aisha and the youth-centric Kai Po Che. The film allowed her to move beyond her perceived image.

“It was important for me to take myself beyond Aisha in people’s minds,” says the 29-year old,who graduated in English from St Xavier’s College,Mumbai. It was in Xavier’s theatre circles that Puri was initiated into acting,a hobby that soon transformed into a passion.

When she is not caught up with films,the petite actor works with theatre groups such as AKvarious Productions and Industrial Theatre. “My passion for acting can be attributed to the Naseeruddin Shah plays that my mother used to take me to watch,” she says.

However,it took her a few fickle years of career choice options of advertising and journalism before Puri finally decided on acting. Being the daughter of one of the country’s best-known CEOs — her father Aditya Puri heads a major Indian bank — the initial years of standing in audition queues were harsh.

The actor says it was frustrating at first but persistence eventually won. “I have been lucky in that I could afford to choose films I wanted to do and not act just for the sake of being seen,” she says.

She was offered Kai Po Che when director Abhishek Kapoor spotted her at a party. She was his instant choice. “He was convinced that I was Vidya,” she recalls.

Her character trespasses that forbidden territory of Indian romances — falling in love with a brother’s best friend (played by Raj Kumar Yadav). Although Vidya is believable,enacting it wasn’t easy. “Since I share many scenes with Raj Kumar,we started practising in a workshop. Besides,I had to learn garba and get basic training in Gujarati diction,” she says.

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