It’s a positive motto to life that your film is encapsulating, do you agree with the thought?
A. It’s not all positive. It’s a normal story of a few ups and a few downs of life. About finding joy even in the imperfections of life. Most of the people look for a perfect life. This is probably about looking at an imperfect life and looking for joy nonetheless.
Q. Was there something you picked up about your own approach towards life from the making of this film?
A. I did, I did, you know. It happens when you do so many different kinds of films. Each story will teach you something. I really believe that I may not learn too much from one film but I will learn one thing, which I will take away and it will be really, really close to my heart. So with this film, well, I have learnt just one thing that I am trying to imbibe. I won’t talk about that because it will give away the essence of the film. But I have learnt one thing.
Q. Tell us something about your role in the film?
A. Her name is Kaira. She is a 20-something, restless, passionate, very impulsive girl. She has issues like everybody does; when you don’t have anybody to talk to. Even though you have very good friends and you have a great family support but you don’t really feel like that you can trust anybody or talk to anybody and you just need to get out of that mess. Then enters Shah Rukh’s character who is Jehangir Khan, also known as Jug, who is a stranger may be, but somebody who gets her and somebody she can talk to.
Q. What were your thoughts when you got to know that Shah Rukh Khan would be your co-star?
A. I was thrilled. I was almost like, “Oh my god is it actually happening?” And I wanted to pinch myself a couple of times until we actually reached the set and we shot together and now it’s almost up for release. It was weird; it was really weird but eventually it’s something that, again, I can feel really grateful for, and I am really really glad that I got this opportunity. Let me just add that I feel like he is one the best actors to work with. It showed why he’s been here for 25 years. He’s been ruling and killing it because of the way he is, the way he deals with people. His work ethic, how professional he is, I have learnt so much from him as an actor and I am so glad for this experience so early on.
Q. How was the experience working with Gauri Shinde? Have you seen her English Vinglish.
A. I loved English Vinglish, which is why I was very glad and excited when I heard that she wants me to hear her script. There are some films, after watching them, you are like, ok this is the director I actually want to work with. I was very keen to work with her and she had taken some time since English Vinglish to come back with her next trip. After narration, I don’t usually do this but I was like I am on, I am doing it.
Q. Well English Vinglish is also proof that a heroine can carry a film on her shoulders and gain success at the box office. Did that make you hopeful considering you were starting out?
A. But that was not the reason why I did it. That is the plus that is not the reason why I do any film or I did this film. The reason I did this film was because I love the film and I love the character.
Q. Many people are curious as to why did the film team choose this title, Dear Zindagi.
A. We were struggling for the title for a very long time. It was Gauri’s idea. It’s like Dear Zindagi is how you write a letter to your loved one. In our life another loved one is life itself. So it’s kind of writing to life, an ode to life. You will understand the meaning after watching the film but basically this is the gist of it.
Q. In real life, have there been moments where you went through ups and downs? Was there ever a point when you said, “Do I really love you Zindagi”, as one of the songs in the film has it?
A. Of course, I never had an extreme emotion but you feel like why it’s happening. God, can this just stop. Everybody goes through those moments; it’s normal and one should go through those moments so that you can feel the upside of life. But I think it is also just about loving yourself and having a oneness with your life — that is very important and most of the people don’t really get to that stage for a long time.
“I really believe that I may not learn too much from one film but I will learn one thing, which I will take away and it will be really, really close to my heart.”
Q. In this film, Shah Rukh is playing the role of a teacher, philosopher who gives you advice. In real life who would be that philosopher?
A. I would not say teacher. I would say like a friend. My father is a philosopher in my life. I have a couple of friends whom I really fall back on. I don’t have that just one person and I also don’t find it fair to have only one person who has all the pressure to take care of your needs and wants.
Q. If we ask you to pinpoint your favourite film of Shah Rukh Khan, what would it be?
A. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and I love him in Chak De! India as well. There are so many of his films I can’t really pinpoint.
Q. You are also shooting for Badrinath Ki Dulhania. You are working with a team you are familiar with. How is that going?
A. It’s going lovely, it’s the same team. It’s like working with a family. It’s set to release next year in March, Holi time. It’s like desi ghee main milaa hua love story, a heartland Indian love story. It will be a big contrast to Dear Zindagi.
Q. Your films have really tasted success but after Shaandaar what really went on in your mind?
A. That was a time when I took my solo trip. Of course, you need to feel the downs to feel the ups. I had to feel that low phase, to really appreciate the success. Until then it was like hit hit. You have to have one film not do really well for you to understand that we all are mortal here. We are actors: we are doing our job. No regrets with that whenever I think about that. I feel like I did learn a lot from that experience.
Q. We recently had actress Sharmila Tagore come out and say that she would love to have a biopic made on her and her husband, and that she’d like Ranbir and you to be playing the characters. What was you reaction to that comment?
A. I was very flattered. Shocked, because it’s a very big thing for somebody to play you. It is a very personal journey, personal thoughts, so I feel very flattered. I really admire her boldness and courage. The way she speaks, the kind of actor she has been and the person she is. And I hope if it will happen, then why not?