Interview By: Drishti Pandey

Gauahar Khan, the talented, sassy and incredibly beautiful model-turned-actressis now progressively deconstructing her conventional created steamy image and proving her acting skills in her movies. She talks to us about how blessed and lucky she is and that her dreams are coming true. From ‘Ishaqzaade’, ‘Fever’, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ and now ‘Begum Jaan’ has been a long journey for her. Read on…

“Vidya is a dream; I still have to pinch myself to make myself believe that I’ve worked with her”

How did you step into doing a film like ‘Begum Jaan’?

Well, I got a message from Vidya saying that she’s doing a movie with Srijit Sir, the director and they wanted me to do this particular character. So she said if I could talk to him and see if I like it. So when I spoke to Srijit sir; who is the kindest and sweetest person I’ve ever spoken to.  He then told me that he was trying to get in touch with me since a long time but he didn’t know how. And also that he really wanted me to play Rubina. I was like it would be my pleasure and I would give any number of auditions and do whatever he wants me to do because I really wanted to do it because the way he narrated the character, he just spoke about the role in like 10 minutes over the phone and I knew that it would be a very strong role. And also the fact that it has Vidya in the lead and the fact that he is the national award winning director, there is so much spoken about him, there is so much credibility in the kind of film making he has had. I would be super lucky to be the part of it. So I was like yes of course I would do anything for this role. (Smiles)

As seen in the trailer you seem to be having a strong headed role and also seen de glamorous, so how were the preparations?

Well, I was just following the leader because he was so amazing, he had everything sorted, the script was on place, the characters written were so well defined, so while we were doing the workshops it was understood that; he had given us the freedom. And that the characters we are playing we had to make it’s back storyby ourselves and discuss with all. What’s the relation with each character, how it’s made and how I’m I as a person in that house; all this we had to decide by ourselves and live that part. In our 20 days of workshop we were our parts, we were not Gauahar, Pallavi or Vidya. We were Gulabo, Rubina, Begum Jaan, living during the workshops. And I remember I had never done so much flying for any workshops because during these workshops I was in New York for 10 days. And Srijit sir said it’s very important for me to come for this workshop for two days;because after that there were a lot of things happening. Then from New York to India I flew back just for literally 24 hours to attend that particular workshop and then I flew back to Los Angelesthe next day; so I was just going nuts but the passion and energy of being part of something amazing that just kept us all going. And mind set of a strong woman I think I’m a strong person and a strong headed girl but to live the life of a sex worker at the time of the partition when the thinking of the society was totally different. So to live Rubina it was quite a challenge for me and I hope I’ve done justice to it.

Talking about challenges and you having a bold character so was there any scene for you that was difficult to perform?

I wouldn’t say it was difficult for me but there is one scene in the film, which is a favorite scene of most of the people from the crew, like Srijit sir, Vidya, and the crew who had worked in ‘Rajkahini’, so there was pressure on me to perform that scene; because I dint want to let anyone down. And also that I had not seen the Bengali version so I didn’t know what do they want or do they want me to be like that person, the way she had deliver, should I surpass that or should I give exactly that. So there was a lot of pressure on me, so on that one day when we were shooting that scene it was a morning time and I had immense of pressure because I had started really early and it was an outdoor set up, so just the pressure of wanting me to not letting anyone down which was constantly going in my mind. So yeah I hope I’ve not let anyone down and done it correctly. And I hope it leaves some impact on people. I can’t be revealing the scene so for that everyone will have to go and see it. (Smiles)

How was it to talk in Punjabi accent did you learn or you know it from before?

Thankfully I can talk in Punjabi but the tough part was that she’s a Muslim Punjabi so it’s anUrdu and Punjabi’s combination, so to get that balance was a trick because the audience should understand what’s been spoken. Punjabi is a bit like Hindi but a few words, the grammar terms which is different from Hindi which the random audience might not understand who go to watch Hindi cinema; so to get that balance in terms of being true to Rubina’s character and also I to cater to the audiences so that they understand; otherwise why would anyone see? So that was the trick which I think I’ve done well.

Talking about the character’s you choose like ‘Ishaqzaade’, ‘Fever’, Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, there are like various characters that you play so how gratifying it is to play poles apart roles?

It’s actually a dream for me that people come up to me for roles like these, In fact when I did ‘BadrinathkiDulhania’, I told Shanshak why do you  want me to play this guest appearance role because it’s just three or four scenes and you would have anyone play. He then explained it to me saying he wanted to give this character the weightage that it influences Badrinath’s character in the way he thinks and in a way how he perceives women to be; so he said I need an actor for it not anybody and when he thinks about good actors in top of his list. I felt very happy at that moment; that film makers think I have the potential to deliver as an actor and that’s quite flattering.  I don’t think there’s something magical about me but I feel very grateful. I just feel very lucky and blessed.I use to just think and dream about working with great film makers, with Yash Raj films, excel entertainment, all these were just dreams for me but now that it’s fulfilling I feel I’m blessed and I just have to work hard.

How was it working in the created set up of partition days and where was it located?

It’s a set but we were in between nowhere because we were in Jharkhand and our hotel was ina distance of 1.5 hours so every day we use to travel. It use to be 45 degree heat, sometimes storm, sometimes rains, sometimes it use to be super sunny and because we were not wearing any makeup we were all tan and we were in the most natural way we could be. In all this up and down we never felt like what are we doing? It was about the energy, the spirit, we were all one unite, we were all one family; so no matter how difficult the trail was it was a fun ride.

I believe this was your first collaboration with Vidya Balan and Pallavi and many other co-actors in the film, so how was your experience throughout the filming?

Vidyais a dream; I still have to pinch myself to make myself believe that I’ve worked with her.  She has been my favorite, anytime if anyone would ask me who was my favorite actress I always use to tell its Vidya Balan and now that I’m getting to work with her and to work as her closest aid on this film. Rubina is Begum Jaan’s person, so, it’s just a dream come true for me. And all the rest actors be it llaji, Chunky, Naseer sahib, and all the girls, who are from different backgrounds had the same energy, we were all just there to perform and make ‘Begum Jaan’ happen. And all the credit goes to Srijit sir, because the way he had led it and the way he thoroughly picked us all. Everyone’s role was so well defined that we didn’t feel we are going to over step other each. There was no comparison done and it went all smooth; so it was good experience.

Did you have any reference point? And how Srijit is as a director?

No we didn’t have any reference point because it’s a new script and ‘Rajkahini’ was set in Bengal and this is set in Punjab. All the characters are different, none of us have watched ‘Rajkahini’ and Srijit as a director is so clear, he knows exactly what he wants , his a genius. His mind has various compartments that he knows what’s happening in each compartment. He is so clear that there is no chance of fooling him; there’s no chance to underestimate him as a director. I have so much respect, love admiration for this human being because he is a dream maker. And I’m sure after ‘Begum Jaan’ he is going to have a line of Bollywood film and I hope he does and  hope I can be a part of his films once again.

What’s next?

Right now I’m basking in the glory of ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, and ‘Peanut Butter’ – short film, so I’m concentrating on these things and yes I do have something coming up after ‘Begum Jaan’ which I’ll declare later.

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