Banita Sandhu is a picture of poise, cool and confidence. Posing for shutterbugs, the 22-year-old British-Indian actor, who is making her Tamil debut opposite Dhruv Vikram in Adithya Varma, sounds incredibly ambitious and displays maturity that belies her age. The London-based actor, who starred in Shoojit Sircar’s October, discusses the Gireesayya-directorial, the remake of Telugu film Arjun Reddy, which is hitting the screens today.
Does Adithya Varma go beyond the obvious comparison? “You gotta watch the film to know it,” Banita breaks into a sweet smile. “I couldn’t have asked for a better launchpad in Tamil cinema. When I heard Ravi K Chandran sir was the DoP, I was sure I was going to be in the best hands. Further, I knew Vikram sir would be involved in this starting from scratch. So, I had no apprehensions about signing the project.”
Banita Sandhu doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the problems that both Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh had. “I am not dismissing the fact they were problematic films. But such relationships do exist in society. Our version, Adithya Varma, is certainly better than the previous ones,” she assures. Quiz her how, pat comes the answer: “The whole team was sweet enough to listen to my inputs, being a newcomer. Of course, the protagonists of both the Telugu and Hindi versions were toxic characters. I am sure people will draw references. But In Adithya Varma, we tell a story without glorifying things.”
In an interview with Film Companion, Banita had revealed Vikram was the one to pioneer the idea of giving her character more control over Dhruv’s. “I feel very blessed to have had understanding actors and technicians by my side. During the shooting, Dhruv and I discussed the controversial aspects of the story as to how we could better it,” she notes.
Speaking about her co-star Dhruv, Banita says he is “fantastic”. “We share many similar interests. We had to work a lot on creating chemistry and getting into the skin of the characters. It was a fun process. Without Dhruv’s cooperation, I don’t think I would have been able to pull off Meera. Also, Vikram sir helped us so much. He’s quite chilled out and never made me feel like he’s a star,” Banita says.
She equally heaps praise on Gireesaya. “Fortunately, Giree sir, the director of Adithya Varma had co-directed Arjun Reddy. He insisted that I smile less, and be subtle with what I did. My personality and my on-screen character are as different as chalk and cheese. That’s what made the shooting experience memorable,” the actor laughs.
Banita Sandhu, whose first American project was the TV series Pandora, is aware that no matter what, she’s not in control of the final output. Making an interesting observation, she adds, “I haven’t caught Adithya Varma. I am looking forward to seeing how the audience will receive my character. All I can say is the women crowd will leave the theaters with fewer complaints. Meera thinks with her heart and not head and loves to explore and experience everything. She has her dilemmas.”
Banita hasn’t done a film in South before and wants her work to be as versatile as possible. “Most of the time, you will not be able to relate to the characters you play. I simply go with the script and the director’s vision. Even as a kid, I had no confusion about where I belonged. At the age of 10, I remember telling my mum that I wanted to be in films,” she says.
Banita Sandhu, who did English literature at King’s College London, is open to doing any kind of role, as long as they are substantial. “I have been receiving offers, but need time to think them over,” the actor asserts.
“My journey in films hasn’t been easy because initially I wasn’t mentally prepared. Though October was the right venture, it came at a time I wasn’t sure of myself. But I don’t regret doing it. Shoojit Sircar sir, undoubtedly, is one of the abled-filmmakers I have worked with so far. I was offered the lead role after working with him on a chewing-gum ad. Before accepting the film, I had to work on my speech and dialect since I had no command over the Hindi language. I am up for any challenging role,” Banita signs off.