Sayani Gupta on finding her true calling, and her Bollywood journey so far
HER PORTRAYAL of Khanum, Kalki Koechlin’s fiery, blind girlfriend in Margarita With A Straw, made the Bollywood industry sit up and take notice of Sayani Gupta. Straying away from the mainstream, the 27-year-old went on to play sometimes small, but definitely significant roles, in films like Fan, Baar Baar Dekho, and more recently, Jolly LLB 2. Her next release is Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos, alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, where she plays a 14-year-old girl.
An outsider in the industry, Sayani was born and raised in Kolkata. A student of the arts (she’s a trained bharatanatyam dancer) she continued to participate in dance, drama, debates and music events when she moved to Delhi to pursue higher education. Realising her passion for art, she quit a cushy job in an infrastructure research firm to study cinema. Talking about what gave her the courage to pursue her true calling, she says, “When I quit, I had realised that earning a livelihood will not be a problem, but actually enjoying what you do, and being able to follow your calling, is what one should strive for. My calling was acting, and cinema. In fact, I remember I had a conversation with Naseerudin Shah once, where we both agreed that we could pay people to let us act!”
An education in films
On studying acting at the FTII, Pune, Sayani elaborates, “Going against family, making up my mind that I was ready to take on all these risks, then starting from scratch in a completely new industry without knowing a single person from it — it all seemed very blurry. But I knew that studying there was the only logical, legitimate way of stepping into Bollywood.” The actor tells us that her education there was more than just about acting and adds, “It’s a space that taught me cinema, filmmaking, exposed me to world cinema, formulated my views on politics, freedom to express and dissent.”
Smells like teen spirit
Currently, the actress is busy shooting for Jagga Jasoos. “I feel Dada (Basu) is a genius. He has a peculiarly fascinating way of working with actors. We don’t have the script and moreover, my character has changed drastically. I am playing a 14-year-old girl and I love Basu for casting me as a little girl in this film.” Working with Katrina and Ranbir too has been quite the experience. “Ranbir is my favourite actor, because his capabilities are boundless. Kat and I have done two films now. She has this straight-faced Brit humour, which is actually hilarious,” she shares.
Jagga Jasoos releases later this year.