Fatima Sana Shaikh was at her charming best as she spoke exclusively to Bollywood Hungama before her session at Bollywood Hungama’s two-day OTT India Fest.EXCLUSIVE: Fatima Sana Shaikh CONFIRMS her web series debut; reveals she didn’t use prosthetics while playing Indira Gandhi in Sam Bahadur; also says “Many people on Instagram have been messaging us that ‘Dangal 2 karo’”
Your film Dhak Dhak was released recently. One common feedback that it received was that many women also wished to take a bike ride to Khardung La…
(Smiles) Yes. I think it’s heartening. For women, we don’t think that this is something we can explore. Also, women must have been emotionally connected to the film. Had they not connected with the film, they wouldn’t have had the desire to take a bike ride to Khardung La. For an audience to have a takeaway, whether it’s emotional or something like I want to explore new in life or you are creating some change or if the viewer is questioning something, that’s good filmmaking or storytelling if you ask me.
Dia Mirza in one of the sessions at Bollywood Hungama’s two-day OTT India Fest said that though Dhak Dhak didn’t get a due in cinemas due to poor release strategy, it’ll find the desired viewership once it's out on an OTT platform. What are your thoughts?
Of course. Aaj kal film banti hi hai yeh soch ke ki yeh OTT pe aane waali hai. I was very happy and pleasantly surprised that Dhak Dhak was released in cinemas. I wasn’t sure if it would. Also, there was an increase in the screen count. Earlier, it majorly had a release in Mumbai and Delhi. Now, it’s playing in different states as viewers reacted positively to it. Still, a section of the audience doesn’t know that it’s out as there was little to no promotion. I would say that it’s okay. I’d rather focus on the positives rather than the negatives. On OTT, it’ll reach a larger demography. There are a lot of people who don’t go to cinemas, especially when it’s not a big film. Hence, having a platform that serves a wider audience is great for filmmakers and actors alike.
Your film Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari was the first Hindi film to be released in cinemas in November 2020 after the pandemic hit the world. That was a time when people were scared of enclosed spaces and yet, the makers took the risk. Now, the box office is back on track. How do you look at this three-year journey?
Because of the pandemic, the cinema business shut and the business module changed. Every industry suffered. Hence, in such situations, you try and adapt. The credit goes to the makers of Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari for taking the initiative. It was a big risk. At that time, it didn’t really help us, to be honest. People were still apprehensive though now, people are comfortable with going to the theatres. However, due to technological advancement and cheap and high data, people are exploring different avenues to consume media.
A lot of people are now also doing web shows. Do you also plan to take the plunge?
I am doing one. I can talk about it later on. I’ll be shooting for it this year and I am super excited.
Many actors often say that they enjoy working on web shows as their characters get a proper arc…
Yes. Mujhe toh maza aayega. I have seen two series that really impressed me. One is Inventing Anna. It’s about a psychotic 20-year-old girl jisne poore Wall Street ko apne ungliyon pe nachaaya. She used the courtroom as a fashion show. It’s a true story! Then there’s The Bear. It’s outstanding. It’s pacy. You feel like you are getting palpitations when you see it. Both these shows leave an impact because you spend so much time on the characters. And anyway, we saw TV before. The concept existed even then. There, the shows would run for 4-5 years or even beyond.
Radhika Madan spoke in one of our sessions that on TV, there was no time to process or study the characters and dialogues. This advantage is there while working on web shows and films…
That’s true, but every director’s process is different. In TV, the script gets written on the set, we shoot it immediately and it gets aired the same evening. It is tricky for actors but imagine how taxing it must be for writers. Also, the makers are gauging the reaction of the audience constantly. That means they have to be aware of the pulse. It’s not like a series where you put it out in one go. Here, you are being judged everyday and you have to shift and evolve constantly. Also, the writers and creative team deserve kudos if their show is going on for 7 years. Something must have worked with the audience, right?
1 ½ months after Dhak Dhak, you’ll have Sam Bahadur in which you play Indira Gandhi…
It happens to me a lot. Meri do filmein aas paas aati hai. It’s good as people can see me as two different characters. Thar and Modern Love Mumbai came around the same time. Both were poles apart. When I see the extremes, it helps me understand myself as an actor.
Coming back to Sam Bahadur, Meghna made it very easy for me as she is clear about what she wants. From the way you’ll say your dialogues to your gestures to your hair, everything is her vision. If you see visually it’s not exactly like Indira Gandhi. We have not used prosthetics as it was her vision. She wanted to go with the spirit of Indira Gandhi rather than her physicality.
It works as so many actors have already played the iconic figure. Even Lara Dutta did in Bellbottom (2021)…
Yes, and even Kangana Ranaut in Emergency. She looked great in the teaser. But that’s the mark of a storyteller how he or she can depict an iconic character differently. You don’t have to do everything that has been done before repeatedly. What if you attempt something out of the box? It might not work but that’s the risk you have to take.
Sanya Malhotra told us that she, you and your Dangal (2016) director Nitesh Tiwari are a part of a WhatsApp group called ‘The Pehelwans’. What do you guys discuss in this group?
Kuch nahin. Random cheezein hoti hai. We support each other. Whenever we do a project, we write about it. It’s like a support group. It’s nice. Even if we don’t chat on it regularly, it’s fine as it was a first for a lot of people. There’s just an emotional connection.
Do you plan to reunite with Nitesh Tiwari?
(Laughs) Yeh toh unko bolna padega ki ‘humein bhi kaam de do’!
In the age of sequels, there’s a demand for Dangal 2…
Yeah. Many people on Instagram have been messaging us that ‘Dangal 2 karo’!
More Pages: Sam Bahadur Box Office Collection , Sam Bahadur Movie Review
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