Athiya Shetty: I’m crazy, clumsy and a clown!

MUMBAI,NAYANDEEP RAKSHIT : Athiya Shetty keeps her promises. Three months earlier, she gave me her word that whenever she signed her second film, she’d do the first interview with me. Mubarakan’s announcement was earlier this week, and almost a year after her first film’s release, I got a text from her to fulfil her vaada. Over an hour-long conversation, we laughed and chatted. She teels me that people still don’t know the real her and how her next, an Anees Bazmee comedy, will change that perception about her…

One-film-old actors are usually cautious about their second outing. Was it the same with you too?
Your first film chooses you and you choose your second film. I don’t see it as doing a film after a year or that it will release after two years. What matters is that I say yes to a film that I will be proud to be a part of, enjoy being on set for, and enjoy the process of filmmaking. This profession is about being patient. Being patient is not just about waiting, but also about your attitude while you’re waiting. I think I have now become a much stronger person and I know exactly what I want and what I don’t want for my career. It’s been a good wait.

There were reports that you weren’t getting offers…
Of course, Hero didn’t do as well as we wanted it to do. But that will never ever change the way I feel about that film. I don’t regret anything and I would do it again, a 100 times over. And as far as not getting films post my debut, the media will say what they want to. At the end of it all, I know what’s the truth and the people who matter to me know it, too. To me, it’s not right to talk about films that I know I won’t be doing, even if i am offered. I know the films I want to do and I know the mistakes that I don’t want to make. I was very clear that I would sign my next when I genuinely feel like being a part of it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Also, I think it’s really important to just be confident, wear blinkers and just work, work and work!

What made you say yes to Mubarakan?
I’m a reactive person. I either like or dislike things. I had laughing fits when I was being narrated the story. I almost dropped my glass of water. I was so engrossed in the madness and chaos that I felt being a part of it as an audience. That’s what drew me towards Mubarakan right away. When the film releases, the audience too will feel a part of the celebrations, the craziness and the madness of the film. It will make everyone feel happy. Honestly, I really wanted to be a part of an Anees Bazmee film. He’s so passionate about his story. That you can tell from the way he narrates the script. He enacts it himself. And that makes any actor excited then and there.

Is the feeling of signing this film any different from signing Hero?
No, it’s actually quite similar. It’s as if I’m shooting my first film all over again and I hope that feeling never goes away. Because it only shows that you’re really excited about your profession.

Tell me about your role.
I am playing a Punjabi girl who’s the apple of her father’s eye. She is extremely lovable, she’s simple and endearing. But her sweetness has an element of madness which adds to the chaos and mayhem in the film. So I think you will see a different side to her as the story unfolds. That’s also one reason why I loved my role.

Will you be learning the language?
My mom is a Punjabi. I understand the language, but I can’t speak it. I can only say a few phrases. My naani used to speak to me in Punjabi. But no, I am not taking any diction classes for the film as yet. But if my character requires it, I will.

This is the first time you’re paired opposite Arjun.
(Laughs) I’m really excited to work with Arjun because he is a very talented actor. He is not someone who can be typecast and he has managed to prove that with his body of work. He’s one of the funniest people I know. He’s constantly making people laugh, pulling people’s legs. It will be great to see him in a comedy because he’s a clown!

You’ve been linked with him for the longest time…
Now, I just laugh at these rumours! (Smiles) We are always talking on the phone and then two weeks ago, I read that we aren’t talking anymore because we have had a huge fight. It’s really funny and I don’t take these link-ups seriously. I have known him for a while. It maybe new to the media that we know each other, but it’s not new to us. I really don’t care about all those rumours.

Do you feel these rumours will be add to the film’s advantage?
No. I feel people will want to watch our film because Anil and Arjun Kapoor are coming together in a film for the first time. More than Arjun, the person I’m most looking forward to working with is Anil Sir. I think he’s going to have more energy than all of us put together. Even after 30 years of being in the business, it’s commendable how he always brings his A-game and gives every youngster a run for their money.

This is also your first two-heroine film…
(Cuts in) Yes, it is! I feel there should be more such films, yaar! Someone should really make a film like Bride Wars or Sisters!

So, no insecurities?
No, not at all. Instead, I’m really looking forward to working with Ileana D’Cruz in the film. Whenever I’ve interacted with her, she’s always been extremely warm and sweet. And I’ve always thought while reading her interviews that she’s one actor who seems to have her head on her shoulders. She’s so sure about herself. She’s refreshing to watch on screen. She’s a great actress and has an amazing comic timing. I especially loved her in Main Tera Hero.

Do you consider comedy a difficult genre?
Comedy is an extremely difficult genre. It’s all about your actions, your timing, your improvisations and being in the moment. So it’s definitely going to be a challenge. And to be a part of this film as my second film with such good and experienced actors, it’s going to be all the more difficult. But at the same time, it’s definitely going to be a fulfilling experience. Anees Bazmee is a genius when it comes to comedy. Incidentally, my favourite film starring my dad is Gopi Kishan, which Anees Sir wrote.

Do you think you have comedy in your genes?
I hope so. I’ll find it out only on the sets of Mubarakan (Smiles). As a kid, I only used to watch dad’s comedies because I was too young to watch his action films. I think he has an amazing comic timing. His characters in all his comedies have been very shareef and simple. But he still managed to stand out. And that’s what is important. I always tell him that your best jodi is with Akshay sir. I think they feed off each other as actors so well. I hope I got that little comic streak in me from him.

What about your comic timing?
See, a lot of people don’t really know the real me. And my dad had actually tweeted saying that ‘Your madness is not new to me but seeing it on the silver screen would be new.’ And that’s the perfect way to put it. In real life, I am a clown. I’m crazy, clumsy and always doing silly things. That’s my personality. I just do whatever and don’t think too much. Maybe a lot of people haven’t seen that side of me because they feel that I’m proper and poised, like I’m all diplomatic. But I’m actually not any of that. I’m very goofy! My dad is witness to that goofy side of mine. My dad is a prankster and I get my sense of humour from him. But his goodwill will kill me someday. Because he’s such a large-hearted person, everyone expects me to be as nice as him. And I cannot! He’s just too giving, he wears his heart on his sleeve. He would help anybody. I love that about him but I sometimes tell him, ‘Papa, please, you can’t be so nice also.’

Your favourite comedy films?
Chachi 420. I love Biwi No 1. I have seen No Entry at least five times and even if I watch it today, I’ll laugh. I love Gopi Kishan and I obviously love Hera Pheri.

How did your family react to you signing Mubarakan?
Anees Sir is one of my dad’s favourite directors and has given my dad many hits. It’s highly emotional for dad because I’ll be working with him now. He just told me to have fun. He told me to live in the moment and have a blast on the sets! My mom and my brother, too, were very excited. Everyone is so happy that I’ve signed my second film. I hope there’s no stopping me anymore.