Shweta Basu Prasad has been garnering praise for her acting in short film INT. CAFÉ – NIGHT which also stars Naseeruddin Shah, Shernaz Patel and Naveen Kasturia. In an exclusive conversation with Indian Express.com, the National Award-winning actress talks about her return to acting and future goals.
You were brilliant in INT. CAFÉ – NIGHT. The film has been garnering positive response from all quarters. Happy?
Thank you. It was a collective team effort and I am happy that our efforts have paid off and people are liking our film.
How did the film happen?
I have known director Adhiraj Bose for a long time now. We went to school together. And it was our school dream that one day he would direct and I would act in his film. So we used to joke about it when we were teenagers. We always wanted to collaborate and I am happy that it finally happened. This film was shot and completed in 2014 and basically it was Adhiraj’s idea. I came on board later as a co-producer to take things forward.
You also doubled up as the casting director for the film. Did you cast everyone including yourself in the film?
Definitely myself (laughs). As far as Naseer saab goes, Adhiraj had done a documentary with him and I had also acted with him in Iqbal. So I mailed Naseer uncle the script and he loved it and that’s what set the ball rolling. I knew Shernaz maam socially while to cast Naveen was Adhiraj’s idea as he thought Naveen looked like Naseer uncle’s younger version.
Why Naseeruddin Shah?
Why not Naseer uncle? When you have a story like this that requires the portrayal of maturity in relationship and friendship, you need actors like Naseer uncle and Shenaz maam. Also, Adhiraj wanted to recreate the magic of Gulzar saab’s Ijaazat.
Wouldn’t you have preferred to act in feature film as compared to a short one?
The medium doesn’t matter for an actor. An actor’s job is between action and cut. Even in a two and half hour film, you may only need that one scene to prove yourself as an actor. And in a feature film at times you may have only that one scene to perform and excel in.
Was it easy convincing Naseeruddin Shah to act in a short film
Yes. In fact Naseer uncle was more excited because it was a new medium for him as an actor.
You also share a kiss with Naveen in the film. Were there any inhibitions?
There weren’t any inhibitions. Adhiraj had told me well in advance that he would be adding this scene and it was not sensational or sleazy in any way. We both were crying in that scene and there was a lot of conscious effort that we had to cry and kiss at the same time. So it didn’t even register as a kiss. At the end of the day, it was like any other emotion. And though it was my first onscreen kiss, it was Naveen who was more nervous and I was calming him down. We had a couple of takes but it was not sleazy in any way.
So are you now back to acting completely?
Absolutely. I quit my job at Phantom in April. I have signed a TV show with Balaji telefilms called Chandragupta Maurya. I will be busy with that.. I am also doing Badrinath Ki Dulhania with Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt but can’t talk about it much for the moment. Also I am working on my documentary film about Indian classical music. It is finally complete and hopefully I will be able to show it to the world soon.
What kind of roles are you looking forward to doing in future?
I have been really lucky to have done films like Makdee, Iqbal or INT. CAFÉ – NIGHT’. Although I have never acted continuously at one go and have been very sporadic, INT. CAFÉ – NIGHT although a short film is like my first film in like 11 years after Iqbal. So I have been lucky with quality work and that is what I look forward to doing in future.
You have shed a lot of kilos lately. What’s the secret behind your new svelte avatar?
(Laughs)Media always uses my old outdated pictures. They don’t have my new pictures. But I have not been hitting the gym, if that is what you are asking. I hate gymming. I am more into jogging and yoga. Also, this weight loss has more to do with age. After a point, you lose a lot of baby fat.
We also hear filmmaker Rohit Mittal is a special friend in your life. Is that true?
I and Rohit have known each other for two years now. He is a special friend in my life today. I respect him. But right now, we are focusing on our respective careers.