Dil Dhadakne Do (DDD) is going to be your first release after Mary Kom. Did you have to lose your muscles to play this rich and urban girl?
I had to start shooting for DDD 10 days after wrapping up the Mary Kom shoot. I was very chunky then and the character of Ayesha in DDD is very feminine. So I had to be on a special diet and shed my muscles fast. Since I still had my biceps when DDD’s shoot started, I wore dresses with sleeves during the initial scenes that we filmed.
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The trailer of the ABC’s show Quantico is out. How did the show happen?
As of now, I have shot only one episode whose trailer has come out. I will start start shooting again in July. Initially, I was apprehensive of finding six months for the show. But now I have found my rhythm. While studying in the US, I encountered racism and was called a “brownie”, which is why I returned to India. So, I was very clear that I would want to break the barrier. I told ABC that find me a part or show that has nothing to do with any stereotype. They came back with scripts of 25-26 pilots. Quantico was my top choice. It was also their top choice for me.
Did you have to lobby for the show?
Strangely, I did not have to. I was offered this television show by another channel nearly two years ago while I was doing my music and had my representation in the US. My hands were full then. However, I had a shot a reading for the show whose footage the person doing casting for ABC saw. While I was shooting Gundey, she pitched the idea of Quantico to me and signed a talent development deal.
Your titular role in Mary Kom and that of an FBI agent in Quantico seem physically very demanding.
Mary Kom was physically demanding but not Quantico. I am not solving crimes in the show. I have been framed as a terrorist and I have to absolve myself. The show is more of a drama than a crime thriller. In fact, Prakash Jha’s Gangaajal 2, in which I play a cop, would have more action.
The Quantico trailer starts with a sex scene. Did you have any qualms about doing it?
It’s one shot of my knees, one of the car and another of the two of us together. In reality, it is quite technical. Today in cinema, inhibition has been dropped. If you say yes to a script you have to do what it requires. However, I don’t know where this story is headed.
Currently, you are doing two movies with Ranveer Singh, DDD and Bajirao Mastani. Do you like to work with co-stars and an environment you are familiar with?
I believe, it does not matter. While I am on a film, it’s like a family then I move to another. But when I meet them again, it is like we had never lost touch. It’s the nature of the business. Ranveer and I have a great camaraderie. As actors, I am happy that we got to play such diverse parts — from being brother and sister, lovers; to mature husband and wife.
You entered movies at the age of 18. How have you honed your craft?
My job was my film school. I stumbled, I dusted myself and stood up again. I made mistakes and then moved on. It is really important to be resilient. I have been an achiever. I hate to fail at anything. If you ask to me fix a phone, I will work on it till it is fixed. It’s that drive which pushes me to achieve different milestones. Singing, however, is something I always did.
Going by your Twitter posts, it seems a very healthy camaraderie exists among the present-day female actors.
There is a stereotype that when two women work together there are cat-fights, while in case of two men it is bromance. Such an assumption sounds sexist. Are we not professionals? Do we not take our job seriously? I can’t speak for everyone, but I have always gotten along well with everyone. But yes, we are not best of friends.
Are you not wearing the ring with a big diamond that your father gifted you?
It’s too heavy and big. Anyway, it’s too hot these days to wear any kind of jewellery.