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    For Sayani Gupta, Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan is only the beginning, as she will be seen in big budget as well as short films this year

    AFTER five rounds of auditions before Maneesh Sharma, director of Fan, met actress Sayani Gupta. He admitted that though the part he was offering was nothing close to her challenging role in Margarita with a Straw, he wanted her to do it nonetheless. “And then of course Shah Rukh Khan was playing the lead,” gushes the Mumbai-based actress. What other reasons does one possibly need to sign?
    Starting point
    Gupta, who graced last months’ cover of Elle magazine in a Gucci Spring 2016 outfit, despairs the fact that only after Margarita with a Straw received international validation in 135 festivals did India wake up to it. Despite the movie receiving accolades, including a recent National Award, naysayers wrote the 27-year-old off stating that after her ‘bold role’ (“a term I have come to detest”) as a lesbian, blind activist, no script will come her way.
    Clearly Yash Raj Studios thought differently. Gupta, hailing from Kolkata, landed a supporting role in Fan and “a huge hush-hush surrounded the script before auditions. We were not even given the full script, I was probably the only actor who had access to my scenes at least,” says the 2011 graduate of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, who adds that she will be essaying a key role in the movie.
    The Khan factor
    She shot for 30-35 days over a period of few months in London, Yash Raj Studios, and at Mannat (SRK’s house) last year. The film sees SRK playing a double role — that of himself, and a fan who’s obsessed with the star. While speaking of King Khan she recalls an incident when she was struggling with a particular line. “I thought it sounded too casual. Maneesh and I broke our heads over it and then Shah Rukh casually suggested a change in sentence construction and that did it!” divulges the actress, grateful for having the opportunity to work with SRK at such an early stage in her career.
    What next?
    Her repertoire also includes short films that have, “no censorship, allow creative freedom and offer quick gratification,” says the actress excitedly as her most recent short film Leeches directed by Payal Methi, was screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2016.
    When we ask about her upcoming Jagga Jasoos with Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, she laughs. “I have no idea what’s happening. With Anurag Basu, things are constantly changing. I was playing the narrator initially but for all you know, I might not be in the movie at all,” she signs off mysteriously.
    Fan releases today.

    — Seema Rajpal

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