In your latest film, Noor, you play the role of a journalist. Could you talk about the character a little? Were you able to connect to her, identify with her, on a personal level?

A. This film is a very, very special film for me because when I was listening to the narration, I could immediately connect with the character. And she is somebody who is so real and is like today’s modern-day girls; she is someone who wants to achieve everything in life, basically. She wants to have great career, a good relationship and a perfect figure. And her struggle is to achieve all these things, all at once, which is every girl’s story. So, I really connected with her. The film is about the journey of a girl who wants to make her name. She wants to make something out of her, something worthwhile. Being a journalist, she has the power to do that. And in her journey, she has gone through it all — like how she ends up making mistakes and then rectifies them. Basically, it is about her career and her relationship with all her emotions and struggles together.

Q. Did you go through any sort of special preparation to play this role? Did you, for instance, meet any senior journalists to get a better perspective on their profession?

A. Actually, I didn’t have to, as it was such a relatable character. And honestly, I really don’t prepare for any of roles, unless it is something like Akira, where I have to physically train myself for fight sequences and to be able to reach that level of physical fitness. I am a complete director’s actor. I like to speak to the director and understand what their vision is and how they visualise the character and how they would like to go ahead and how they would like me to portray it. As an actor, it’s my job to portray what the director wants. So, Sunhil Sippy explained it to me really well how he wanted me to do this role.

I didn’t look at this character particularly as a journalist because obviously I knew I am acting. I don’t have to do research and run behind the story. I have to act like I am doing it. For me, it was more about the personality of the girl. It was easier to play her as it was so real. And there were certain parts of the film where I was thinking, “Why am I even acting? Even I would react in the same way as Noor does or anybody else would in a particular situation.”

Q. Most of your past roles in a series of films were based on humourous and cheerful characters. Are you like that in real life?

A. Yes, humour is what gets me through life and every situation. In every situation, I try to find humour as it makes it so much easier to deal with. It’s nice when you can crack a joke and take a joke on yourself. It makes life way easier.

“Every individual has their own share of struggles. If you ask me, every star kid has the burden of expectations as he/she happens to be the son/daughter of an actor. They are always being compared with their parents. And if their parents are highly successful, the pressure is even more.”

Q. So, that is what explains your preference for comic roles?

A. I guess — but I don’t think in that way. There were films which I wanted to be a part of — I like to see myself onscreen, and that is why I chose some films. They happen to be humourous, coincidently. I also did a very serious role in Lootera and Akira. Dabang was also not humourous in any way. So, there’s a balance.

Q. Who do you think poses the biggest challenge to you in this industry, as a competitor? 

A. If the competition is taken in the right way, if it inspires you, that competition is always healthy and good. For me, someone whose work I admire is Alia Bhatt. At a very young, she has achieved so much and done such a variety of roles, which is very commendable. Deepika Padukone has got such a great body of work. Priyanka Chopra, who, after conquering the Hindi film industry, is now beyond borders. So, these are the people who are inspiring me and whom I look up to.

Q. Recently, there was a long public debate on nepotism in Bollywood. So as a “star kid”, do you think it is easier to get into the film industry if you have the right connections?

A. I have only been thinking about nepotism now as this question is thrown around me so much just because of a silly conversation between two people. I honestly don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Why, suddenly, are we talking about it? It has not been of any importance or issue over the years. So why now? Somebody happened to be bringing it up to make the word famous. I don’t want to add fuel. Everybody has their own opinions and struggles and their own journey. Every individual has their own share of struggles. If you ask me, every star kid has the burden of expectations as he/she happens to be the son/daughter of an actor. They are always being compared with their parents. And if their parents are highly successful, the pressure is even more.

A still from the film Noor.

Q. You have always carried yourself around with the utmost confidence. And it seems you don’t care about body-shaming anymore. Is that so?

A. It is very important to be comfortable in your skin. I believe too much of importance is given to looks, shapes and size, where there are other facets of a woman that are worth appreciating — whether it is her personality, or the talent she possesses. Even while growing up, I was definitely an over-weight child but I never gave so much importance to it. I was very confident because I knew I was good at sports, studies and other co-curricular activities. There was so much more than just looks and I feel we, as a generation today, should promote women who are accepting themselves. It is okay to be you as long as you are good at something.

I have always been projected as someone who has a very healthy body-image and as I have always said, fitness is important. I am fit now as I have worked towards it. And not because of some kind of pressure. I have done it because I wanted to do it for myself. And that should be the reason to achieve something in life — not just because someone is telling you do it.

Q. Other than acting, you have won many accolades as a singer and dancer too. How difficult is it cultivate such a diverse set of talents?

A. I think it’s all part of being an actor. I am a creative person, so these things come easily to me. I tilt more towards singing or dancing or painting than other things in life. I like to do such things. As a person, this also satisfies me. And I think I am in a position to do things which I always wanted to do.

Q. What are some of your upcoming projects?

A. My next film would be Ittefaq, which I have almost finished shooting, with Sidharth Malhotra.


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