Former Miss India Earth Sobhita Dhulipala is one of the luckiest debutantes in Bollywood, having bagged a lead role in an Anurag Kashyap movie – on her very first film audition. The fact that the movie is the psychological thriller Raman Raghav 2.0, starring the inimitable Nawazuddin Siddique, was the icing on the cake; and eventually getting nominated at Cannes was the cherry on top.
In an exclusive conversation with IndianExpress.com, Sobhita talks about how she landed her debut film, her inhibitions with intimate scenes and getting nominated at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance.
Did you plan on becoming an actress?
These are things taken like one can hope for. I didn’t grow up watching films or thinking that you know ‘Oh! mujhe actor banna hai, star banna hai, aisa maine socha to nahi’. I grew up reading a lot on literature and all of that. But this was something as I hope for a dream and I am glad it happened actually.
How did you land your debut film Raman Raghav 2.0?
I got a call from Mukesh Chhabra ji (the casting director), and I went for the audition. It was the first ever film audition I’ve given. And the time, I didn’t know who’s going to be the director or who are the actors, I didn’t know anything at all. So I just gave the audition on the spot and I feel really lucky that by the end of the day I figured out that I was finalised for the part. It happened so fast.
Do you think modelling is an easy gateway into Bollywood?
Not at all. There is completely zero connection to both, because they both are very different industries.
Did you have any inhibitions while doing intimate scenes in the movie?
Yeah. There is one such scene where you also get to see the mindsets of both of the people. So, a lot of focus is on that. And it’s not like an intimate scene, where the emotions are on your face that “Oh My God, they are making out”. It’s very brief. It doesn’t come across as a love making scene (that’s) in your face. It has a very context-oriented drive to it.
Tell us about your and Vicky Kaushal’s characters, and the relationship between the two.
My role in the film is of Simi. I play Raghavan’s (Vicky Kaushal’s) love interest. It is a very exciting character. Their relationship is so different such that they love each other, and they hate each other. So, there are moments when you like what are these dudes doing with each other; and then again ye aise nahi hai yarr, jaise bhi hai sahi hai. It makes for interesting dynamics.
How did it feel to be nominated at Cannes for best performance in your first film?
It was amazing. First, Anurag sir had called me, and he said did you see the article? I had no clue. Then he was like ‘ruko, bhejta hu’. So he sent an email to me with a link and I opened it. I was shocked. I was like, ‘ye to ho hi nahi sakta’. Because it was the first nomination of my life and that too at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Critics’ Choice Best Performance at that. It was unreal. And that I was sharing it with one of the best actors across the world. For me, it was a huge honour and a very big moment.
Usually you are very proud, but the thing is, I actually feel very humbled because you get to experience great cinema at Cannes, where directors, actors from every corner of the world, artistes from every division of cinema, from every part of the world are there. You see the best of their work and you seem so small; you realise there is so much to do, so much to learn, so much to give and experiencing that I really felt motivated to want to do more.
How difficult was it for you to face the camera the first time?
Surprisingly, I was actually very much at home. I didn’t feel like this is my first film, and I didn’t feel scared even for a second. I was also surprised, but I was very comfortable and felt like I was finally home.
How was your experience working with the likes of Nawazuddin, Kashyap and Vicky?
It’s every actor’s dream to be able to work with these people. So, for me, it was really fortunate that I had this chance at the beginning of my career and it means a lot to me. I got to learn a lot.
Now that you’re in the industry, whom would you like to work with in the future? Do you have a list?
There are so many great directors and actors, like Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Rakeysh Ompraskash Mehra, Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Basu, the list is very long. I hope at some point I get to work with them.
What kind of roles would you like to do?
I want to try everything. I don’t want to limit myself to anything. I want to discover as many characters as I can. I just want to explore.
Would you be open to television as well?
I don’t know; didn’t think about it. You’ve seen me out of the first audition and this happened, so I don’t know what the future holds. I have a feeling that I am going to be as surprised by my choices as anyone else. So, let’s see.
Here are some interesting facts about debutante Sobhita Dhulipala
Model-turned-actor Sobhita Dhulipala made her debut with Anurag Kashyap’s psychological thriller Raman Raghav 2.0, alongside the talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal of Masaan fame. Sobhita has already grabbed headlines with her unconventional debut, here are some interesting facts about her.
1. Sobhita is from Visakhapatnam and moved to Mumbai after schooling. She learnt to speak fluent Hindi in six months before approaching the film industry and bagging Raman Raghav 2.0 on her first film audition.
2. Sobhita was always a literature buff and an economics geek. It was a twist of fate that she landed up in the fashion world, winning Femina Miss India, something she loved being a part of.
3. Sobhita is a thorough backpacker and loves travelling and experimenting with local cuisines.
4. Sobhita is a great example of beauty with brains. She has a strong educational background, with a Master’s in Commerce and Economics.
5. She a trained Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer.
6. Sobhita’s debut film won her a nomination at Cannes 2016 in the Critics’ Choice Best Performance category for her character in Raman Raghav 2.0.