Making her debut with ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ alongside Vardhan Puri, Shivaleeka Oberoi comes from a non-filmy background making her own way. She is pretty, articulate and confident to talk to. Here, she shares her experience on the film, how Hindi cinema and the audiences have evolved and more much…

What was the starting point for ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’?

Basically when this film came up to me, I was already auditioning for quite a few films. I have also been an Ad with Sajid Nadiadwala in ‘Houseful 3’ and post that I was literally concentrating on my acting career. This film came to me with a very random call from one of the casting director, and he told me that somebody suggested my name and that they were looking for someone like me, like my physicality, features. So, someone had forwarded my pictures to him as reference. Honestly, I was auditioning for so many films and there was a waiting period for 2 to 3 months. So, I decided to give it a shot to this approach and to see how it works out for me. The casting director didn’t give me any other information apart of it being a romantic thriller. I gave my introduction and that same night I got a call that they have liked my introduction and wanted to meet me. I was so excited the entire night because he gave me a brief introduction that I will be cast opposite Amrish Puri grandson Vardhan Puri and also meet his parents. I went and I met them and they were really sweet, I didn’t feel like an outsider at all. So, I had met Vardhan, his parents and the director where the director gave me the brief idea about the film and had asked Vardhan and me to enact some scenes before we could start shooting, this went on for a week. After this they gave me the script to read, as I started reading it, I was totally hooked to it and I couldn’t stop reading it, until I finished. Post reading the script it made me realize that it is a very big responsibility to pull off this character, and for me, as I am a very different person from the character I am suppose to play. Immediately the next day we started with our workshops and readings, and this went on for 7 months, the prep has been really crazy experience for us.

Apart from doing workshops, did you have a style of preparing yourself, any kind of method?

I don’t have any particular method, what I do is, I read the script as it is, then I go through the lines with the co-actor and I make sure I know my lines very well, if you don’t know your lines well you won’t be able to emote the exact emotions out. And then, I actually go through what the storyline is, where the scene is coming from, what is my character’s motive in that scene. I have a habit of sitting with a pen, pencil, highlighters, and make my notes. Every time I get the script I have a habit of writing my character’s name on the page to be in the character, and at the back of the page I write all the characterisation; and I keep in mind while reading the script.

What was your thought process when you decided to come on board for the film?

My thought process when I came back to decide whether I wanted to do a mainstream typical romantic film as my debut which the audiences really love or take this. But for me, your debut becomes the first impression and the last impression that you make on the audiences. So, I believe this is a very strong character and a content driven film to go ahead with it as the audiences are welcoming such cinema with open arms in today’s time and age.

As you mentioned that the audiences are welcoming such content driven films, and now they have been more alert to choose which kind of films they would like to watch. How much do you think is Hindi cinema evolved and how good it is for newcomers?

The cinema has evolved a lot and the audiences are demanding new things every day. People really look for content and the characterisation, so I believe it makes sense to do something in which you are actually evolved as a person. When you do the characterisation and come on-screen as a very different person which is what shows your acting skills and that is what the audiences really love. It excites them to see the newcomers doing films like these. Look at what Alia Bhatt did, after ‘SOTY’, she did ‘Highway’ and ‘Highway’ is one of my most favourite films. Alia is an example who characterises, characters really well. And it is appreciative that is why she is doing that well. She is picking films which is she not the same.

So, where do we see your choices taking you?

I haven’t planned on how I will choose my films ahead but I just hoped that I should get my second film which I did get. (Laughs) My first film is romantic thriller, and my second film is a complete romantic film based on a true story, both are different films, complete different characters. I would say that I would like to do every kind
of films possible, but if you ask me which producers, directors, then I want to work with Sajid Nadiawala since I have worked with him in past as an Ad, I certainly want to a fi lm under the banner of Dharma Productions, and that is my dream since childhood. I grew up watching Kareena Kapoor fi lms and I use to be the Poo of the house, Kareena has played a very important role in my life. Then, I would love to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir, Imitaz Ali sir because they are genius in what they do. So these are the people I really want to work with and I want to do every kind of films possible.

What is that you take back from the film?

Honesty, I would say I have evolved as an actor with ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ because the graph of my character has been so crazy, and different. Every emotion is at a different intensity, every scene has a different intensity. So, I feel for an actor to do something like this is really taxing. And I have a lot of memories with Vardhan, Cherag we have really bonded. Our journey already started years back so it’s been quite emotional and I am hope that our friendship stays for life. First films are always special and it’s a debut for all three of us so it’s quite special for us and I am hoping the film does really well and audiences appreciate our hard work and shower their love on us.

What’s next in the pipeline?

I have finished the first schedule of my next film; it is opposite Vidyut Jammwal produced by Panorama Studios. The second schedule we will continue in December. CinemaInterviewsBollywood Trade Magazine