Actress Disha Patani made her acting debut in Bollywood with M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story in 2016. The sports drama, based on the life of the Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was the biggest hit of the year and got Patani instant recognition for her role as Priyanka, Dhoni’s girlfriend in the film. Her next film was with an international banner: Kung Fu Yoga, opposite Jackie Chan. The 26-year-old actress’ latest on-screen appearance was with Tiger Shroff, in Baaghi 2 (2018).
Patani, who walked the ramp for ace fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani at Blenders Pride Fashion Show a few months back in Gurugram, spoke to Guardian 20 about her career graph in the industry, and her upcoming action film, Bharat, opposite Salman Khan.
Q. You were a model before you made your acting debut with a Telugu film, Loafer,in 2015. So how did acting happen?
A. I was modelling. But how much and for how long can you do that? So acting happened eventually. It was never my dream, I was too shy and I am still very shy. I got an opportunity and I grabbed it. And I loved being in front of the camera. So what was destined for me just happened.
Q. Your first Hindi film, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story(2016), got you recognition in Bollywood. What do you think worked for you with this film? Because coming from a non-film background and getting that sort of a launch is slightly difficul…
A. I don’t know. I am not even sure if something worked for me or not. I am just working every day, I don’t think about all this. If I start thinking like that, I think I would get very stressed and would feel really pressurised. And I don’t come from any film background so I can’t think about all this. I just love to do my job and I am more than fortunate and happy to be here.
Q. We will soon see you in Bharat, opposite Salman Khan. The film features you doing a lot of action sequences. What was it like shooting the film?
A. It was amazing. I loved doing action. I trained a lot in gymnastics and mixed martial arts. I am not that great but I do train a lot. It was very different from anything that I have done in the past. It was also very challenging. I broke my knee also while training, but it was one of the best experiences I have had till now.
Q. You had to train hard for this role. What was your biggest takeaway from the film and the role you play in it?
A. I got the part because I trained a lot. And the director [Ali Abbas Zafar] took me in the project because he saw that I could do things he wants the character to do in the film. There’s nothing extra that I am taking away from my character in Bharat, as far as lifestyle and fitness are concerned.
Q. For a young actor who is still trying to establish herself in the industry, do you seek validation from others for your work?
A. We all think like that, young or not young. We always wonder if we are doing the right thing or not. But I have realised that it doesn’t matter what you are doing or how you are doing it, whether you are right or wrong. What matters is your happiness. You are not there to seek validation from anyone or to make others happy.
Q. As an actor do you have any long-term career goals that you would want to achieve?
A. No, nothing like that. But one thing is for sure, that I want to do something for animals. I love animals and would like to open some NGO or shelter home for animals. But that’s in the future, not right now.
Q. You don’t think of the directors, actors or production houses that you would want to work with in the future?
A. No, not much. Of course, as actors, everyone thinks about doing good films. I mean the story really matters a lot to me, and the kind of roles I am doing matters a lot. I don’t want to keep doing the same kinds of roles as well. I always make sure that I do something different in each of my projects. That’s what I always focus on.
Q. You are walking as the showstopper for Tarun Tahiliani at the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour. How does it feel and what does this collection mean to you?
A. I feel very special right now because this is the first time I am doing Blenders Pride Fashion Tour. I am really excited to walk for Tarun Tahiliani. He is my favourite designer and I have always looked at his designs with awe and wished that I could wear these. And the fact that I am walking for him as the showstopper makes me very happy. This year’s concept is also about “pride” and I am more than happy to be a part of it. Pride to me means a sense of achievement and it could mean different things to different people.
Today, he [Tahiliani] is showcasing 50 beautiful designs and they have a theme of east meets west. It’s beautiful Indian wear and there is a twist of something modern in it and I am very excited to see that also because I haven’t seen the entire collection yet.
Q. You have walked the ramp for some top fashion designers in the industry. Do you still get nervous before the walk?
A. I am always nervous. Just before walking for the main show, I am always nervous. I am scared that I am going to fall and that’s my biggest fear. But then when I walking I am fine. I am very scared and I don’t like attention. I am a socially awkward person, too. So when people are looking at me I get very awkward. However, after finishing the walk I feel happy about it and rejoice in that little sense of achievement.
Q. What are your upcoming projects?
A. There is only Bharatas of now. I will announce my other projects later.