It's every newcomer's dream to share screen space with King Khan. So Sagarika Ghatke, who plays Preeti Sabarwal in "Chak De India", is extremely happy with her first tryst with Bollywood. "It was a dream come true, making a debut with Shah Rukh Khan. It is every amateur actor's dream, and it is now a reality for me. You can't ask for anything better", gushed Sagarika.
Though she always aspired to be an actress, she bagged the role in "Chak De" by pure luck. "I went for the auditions. In the evening, I got a call asking me to send them my photographs," recalled Sagarika. Without a proper portfolio at hand, the snaps that she had sent earlier were very ordinary ones. But finally, she got selected.
Many had warned her before that SRK wouldn't be easy to work with as he was quite strict. But shooting with the superstar on the sets of the film dismissed the apprehensions completely. Sagarika is completely floored by the superstar. "He is so focused and humble, I think he is the best. We learned so much from him. He gets so much into the character. I don't think anyone else could have done more justice to the character of the coach than Shah Rukh."
Besides putting in his best, Shah Rukh also helped the girls hone their acting skills. "He taught us the angles in which our appearance would look good. There have been instances when he just stood behind us so that we could get focused."
Debuting under a big and reputed banner was also nothing short of an achievement for Sagarika. The well-planned and organized shooting schedules left her overawed. Sagarika is all praise for the film's director Shimit Amin also as he "took care of the minutest of details" all the time.
The girls had to train in hockey for four months before the film went on the floor and their daily schedules were as hectic as a real player's. The practice sessions at Churchgate used to be followed by swimming, gym workouts, massages and spas. "My field position in the film is center-forward and I was acquainted with all the skills that a player playing in that position should have," explains Sagarika. At times, Dhanraj Pillai would drop by to give some tips.
"Although it (the training) was tough but now I feel it was worth it. Coach Mir Ranjan Negi, who is also a former Indian hockey goalkeeper, trained us. He was too good. The relationship we shared with him was that of a father and daughters," the actress smiled.
Besides working with Shah Rukh, mingling with girls from other states across the country was also "great fun" as there was much cultural exchange amongst them. "I am so thankful to god for this surprise gift," Sagarika signed off. If she puts in the same amount of hard work in her future ventures too, more such luck is sure to come her way.
- Jayant Mishra (SAMPURN)