Dil Bechara would mostly be remembered as Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film, but it also marks the first film of Sanjana Sanghi as a lead actor. The 23-year-old will be seen playing Kizie, a cancer patient making the most of her last days. She will cross paths with Manny (Rajput), who will bring a new ray of hope and love in her life.
Still trying to come to terms with the loss of her friend Sushant, Sanjana, in an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, opened up about Dil Bechara, the roadblocks it faced and receiving love in abundance from fans.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Just a few days left for the release of Dil Bechara. What’s the emotion right now?
Right now it’s very different from what it would have been. Those nervous jitters before the release is not what I am feeling right now. There is numbness and just a lot of extreme emotions. I am also quite proud that I am able to bring the labour of our love to the audience. However, there is a gutting grief of losing a friend, my partner in this journey. I think that actually trumps all the possible emotions right now.
From featuring in many ads to now becoming the lead actor of a film, how has the journey been?
When Rockstar happened, I was just 13 years, and now 10 years later, here I am with Dil Bechara. Mukesh was the one who found me, and now he has directed me. It feels like one of those surreal loops which is really hard to believe sometimes. Mukesh was the one who showed me that I could act and knows me exactly for who I am. That makes the journey special for me. I did hundreds of ads because I took up every opportunity that came my way. Performing was everything for me. I think being on a set was my getaway from usual life.
A look at your Instagram handle, and one would know that you have several fan clubs. Talking about surreal, how is it to be loved so much even before the film’s release?
I was just telling my mother about the same thing. My parents, like anyone else’s, feel that I am too young to go through all this. They just see their earnest kid hustling every day. But when I see so much love, it feels magical. I was curious to know who they are and found out they are all young girls and boys from small towns, who see themselves in me. People who have known me, know that fame doesn’t strike me and I aspire to be an influence and impact lives. Be it through the art that I create or by giving back in any way. So the number of fan clubs that come along in my journey, it will only make it more special.
It must have been a dream to see yourself on the big screen as a leading lady. What was your reaction when you got to know the film would now be released on an OTT platform?
We did set out to make a film which was to release in theaters on May 8. However, early April, everybody started to talk about how the pandemic will stay. I mean, we are sitting in July and it’s still around. My producers and a studio like Disney entrusted me with this huge project, and they explained to me that it was important that the film reaches maximum people. Amid this pandemic when people are under so much frustration and negativity, this film will celebrate love and hope, which is really needed.
Dil Bechara also faced a lot of negative publicity last year. How did you keep yourself positive then and have continued faith in the project?
It’s been tough. Especially when you are so young, raw and passionate. I would feel that I am giving it my all and why are wrong things happening to me. But the way I have been brought up, I have been told to just continue doing my bit and being good. However, after many challenges, here we are breaking so many records and receiving so much love. It was not easy and the least that I can do is learn from it, and use it for all my future endeavours.
Like most youngsters, you too must have read or seen The Fault in Our Stars. How difficult was it to keep that aside while performing?
That was hard for me. I was 16 when the film came, and I skipped school to watch it. I remember when Mukesh Chhabra handed me the script and it read Hindi adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? How can we even attempt doing something like this?’ But all my doubts went away when we went on floors. We have taken the soul of the classic and localised it meticulously. Manny and Kizie are Augustus and Hazel, but they are also very different people. Kizie is the Indian Hazel, but she is different. Hence, the pressure was not mine to carry, and we just went with the flow. Also, it is an official adaptation and not that we stole a book off the rack to make a film. So it has all been done very well.
How much of Sanjana will we find in Kizie?
Interesting that you asked. Every best friend or people close to me have been messaging me how I react just like her. Not just me but even Sushant, there is going to be a lot of us in these characters. And I think that is why we were chosen because the director wanted me to bring something to the table. However, I wish I was Kizie. She is far more lovable and spunky than I am.
Given that Mukesh Chhabra was helming a film for the first time, what was the kind of vibes on set? Was he a task master or was it a collaborative approach?
Both me and Sushant have known Mukesh for a long time in different ways. We have been in touch for more than 10 years, and he has been my acting coach. He had faith in me when I had none, and that’s why it was all very organic for me. The bond we all shared and the energies, it was just right. It was very organic and balanced.
Tell us about the happy memories you built with Sushant Singh Rajput. Something that still makes you smile.
We are in the process of releasing songs or BTS every day, and it’s like revisiting all those moments once again. Sushant and I shared a very special bond. We connected on so many things – academia, dance and food. There was just no end to our conversations. Since Dil Bechara is from Kizie’s perspective, I was shooting every day, while he had a breather here and there. I remember as soon as I would finish, I would call him and we would either be just listening to Taare Ginn or discussing Yuval’s (Yuval Noah Harari) books.
Anything you want to tell the audience who are waiting to see you both create magic on screen?
I just want to tell them that I am as much a Sushant fan as them. I was just luckier to have him as a friend and colleague. This is a huge gift coming their way, and they should relish and celebrate it as many times and on any screens.
Also starring Swastika Mukherjee and Saif Ali Khan, Dil Bechara will start streaming on Disney+ Hotstar from July 24.
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