With Kalki Koechlin-starrer critically acclaimed Margarita With a Straw, Sayani Gupta made a confident debut in Bollywood two years ago but it was only after she co-starred with Shah Rukh Khan in FAN and Katrina Kaif in Baar Baar Dekho, that the masses took notice of her. Earlier this year, Sayani was seen in Akshay Kumar-led Jolly LLB and come tomorrow, the audience will see her sharing screen space with Ranbir Kapoor in Jagga Jasoos. But as her popularity and visibility are increasing courtesy these films, personally the actor has been left disillusioned after working on these stars-led vehicles.
In an interview to indianexpress.com, the actor opened about the disparity she has observed in the treatment meted out to stars and other actors working on a film. “Quite early in my career I have realised that your energy, efforts and talent will not be respected if you are not a star. We are a star-struck, star-oriented industry. That’s sad. This is the reason I want to be a star. I want to be the biggest star in the country only so that my efforts get counted,” she said.
Just before making this point, Sayani spoke about her disappointment with her role in Jagga Jasoos being heavily reduced and how she couldn’t do anything about it as she wasn’t a star. “I believe whatever happens should happen for the best of the film so, I am sure whatever changes were made with my role were for the bigger picture. Having said that, it’s definitely disheartening that your role goes through such a big change over the course of the film and it is reduced to something far smaller than what it was initially. But it’s okay. I am not a star, I don’t have that power. And I don’t mean to say that if I become a star one day then I will control things in a way but the fact is we like putting one person in a higher position than everybody else.”
Did she simply say that there was a disparity on Jagga Jasoos set given the presence of stars like Ranbir and Katrina? Sayani refused, saying that director Anurag Basu works in an independent and democratic manner and doesn’t hold stardom above the script. “Ranbir is a very humble person. He and dada (Anurag) are very grounded people so, there was no weight being thrown around. Katrina was also chilled out. But most of the times it’s not these stars but people around them who create the cloud. That’s in Indian culture. We are like that as a society.”
Explaining herself by citing Shah Rukh’s example, Sayani said while he is the most chilled out actor she has ever worked with, she saw others around him on the set of FAN creating the unnecessary baggage. “I love Shah Rukh. He doesn’t let you believe that you are working with a star. He is the most chilled out co-star. The way he talks to you, have conversations with you and works on the set, it’s amazing. But then there are others, who stick around him and behave star-struck.”
Nevertheless, the actor has made peace with the prevalent star culture in Bollywood and she believes that things will only change when quality of actors is more accepted and mediocrity in acting is challenged. “I am hoping that with my success I can push the envelope and change things in my own way. I hope more and more good actors become successful so the lines are blurred. It’s a fact that most of the stars can’t act. We have such mediocre standards of good work that a performance, which is just a little above average also gets appreciated like it’s something great.”