Vishakha Singh is in cloud nine after she portrayed the daring and rebellious Pritilata Waddedar in Ashutosh Gowarikar's latest flick Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se.
Vishakha Singh shares her experiences with Bollycurry
How did you get selected for the role?
I got a call for the auditions but even before that I had heard about the film and its concept and I had always wished to be a part of it. And after several rounds of auditions I was fortunate enough to be selected and be a part of it. The auditions were really tough wherein I had to deliver long speeches with strength of Durga imagining myself in front of a big audience.
This is your big break in Bollywood movie; how do you feel beginning it with Ashutosh Gowarikar?
When I got selected for the role I was a little skeptical about me doing it because the role is an iconic one and I did not want to mess with the character. But Ashu said he had the trust in me and I could do it. He is a person who had worked wonders and is a man of integrity and when a person like him comes down to your level to make you comfortable and help you deliver the most in your role it feels really nice. He helps in every aspect and explains well to get the mannerisms right because the movie has an era that is set in the 1930's, but at the same time he gives us our space to put our inputs which he later then refines it.
Did you know about Pritilada Waddedar and her role in Chittagong uprising?
No I did not know about the character but I had known about the Chittagong uprising because that's only word I remember from our history text books. But then when I got the role I had done my part of research wherein I googled and checked to get all details possible about the uprising and the character. During the process I was amazed to find that Pritilada and I share the same birthdate and felt I was destined to do the role. When I further researched, I realized that she is a huge figure in Bengal and was fiercely independent and they idolized her as their Jhansi Ki Rani.
What were the challenges when you did the role?
As an actor it is a meaty role that has a lot of substance in it and if I succeed in convincing the audience the character in full, then think I am successful. The culture and the body language in that era were different and to help us with that, we had our culture advisor because Ashu was so particular with the minute aspects of it and even the size of the Bindi was taken into account.
How did you prepare yourself for the movie?
I had not got a chance to read the book because I had joined the crew after a month where shooting had already begun. But before that I had researched about the uprising and the character and I came to know that there is also a fan page in Facebook for Pritilada. Now I have a personal copy of the book signed by Manini Chatterjee herself.
You and Deepika are the only female cast in the movie, how was the experience?
Working with her was a wonderful experience and she is a complete professional and very much talented.
How was the experience with Abhishek Bachchan?
He is a wonderful human being and I have heard that he is a prankster on the sets. But he is not and always creates a light atmosphere and makes you at ease. We had the best lunches with him
In the process of doing the movie, did you ever wish to be a part of the freedom struggle?
To an extent, yes, and I was intrigued with the way they all had fought for their country. When I was shooting for the film I got a little transported to that era and when I saw the movie in total I got goosebumps and got a lump in my throat.
How do you feel after portraying a strong character like Preetilada?
After portraying a character I realized that you have to stand up for something or else you will fall for everything, even if it is a minute thing. I remember an old song which goes like this "Ham laye hain tuufaan se kashtii nikaal ke is desh ko rakhanaa mere bachchon sambhaal ke'. Now I really understand the meaning of it.
When you are in a character from history what are the responsibilities attached to it?
There is a huge responsibility that is attached to it because you cannot be frivolous about the role or the movie, you should not over portray or underperform the character because the character is larger than life and is a huge figure in a state like Kolkatta.
Any memorable incident during the shoot, which you can share with us
There was a very intense moment when I am dragged out by Surjya Sen (Abhishek) wherein I had to bring out my full zeal for the shot and that was very strong scene. On a funny note we even had to put our hands into the dung wherein we hesitated in the beginning. But then Ashu had a step in to put his hand first and show to us which we had to follow (laughs).
What are your expectations from the movie?
I expect the movie to do well and there is nothing more I can ask for. I am really proud to be part of the film.
You have been associated with films in South, what is the difference in work that you felt here and there?
In south people are very professional and they start, finish and release the movie on time. The only problem that I had to go through was with the language. The south industry has helped me to grow as an actor and I learnt the skills from there. But working with Ashu in a movie like Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se, is my big break. Because in here I am acting freely without any language barrier and I need not by heart and recollect my dialogues because it just comes in the flow and hence I could put my 100 % in the movie.
There is an international movie that is there on the lines to release; can you say something about the role?
The name of the movie is Genius of Beauty wherein I play the character of an eighteen year old crazy girl who is completely opposite to Preetilata. It is a comedy flick where the character undergoes a surgery which turns to be an unfortunate one. The movie is scheduled to release in 2011.
There is a Tamil movie in hand for which I will start my shoot in mid January.