She got a tag of being an actress pretty soon in her career when she excelled as a working wife (of Arjun Rampal) in Rock On. Films like Firaaq and Jashnn further acted as a stamp of approval as far as coming up with a convincing act was concerned. Though she may not have found herself in an advantageous position after Break Ke Baad, the young woman is continuing to find her feet in hardcore commercial cinema with films like Game and Ra. One. As she manages to find herself in the company of actors like Abhishek Bachchan and Kangna Ranaut in Game, Shahana talks to Joginder Tuteja about her journey so far.
An edgy thriller like Game – now that’s a first for you Shahana. I am sure you must have had a totally different experience while making a film of this genre?
It’s my first movie in this genre and yes, I was very excited because I love murder mysteries and thrillers. Playing a key suspect is great fun. I loved the character. She is very young but edgy, disturbed and dark. The flow of the screenplay also really pulls you in. I loved working with all the actors and Abhinay (Deo) really knows what he wants. Excel (production house of Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani) is always a pleasure to work with. I can’t forget my Rock On and Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd experience with them.
Game appears to be one film that must have allowed yourself to let your hair down, right?
Well, this isn’t exactly a ‘letting your hair down’ kinda role. My character is slightly alcoholic, slightly disturbed and it’s a very new space for me. It’s not a fun role like that really but it’s still perky and young. I enjoyed it in terms of the experimentation with the look and clothes, and the attitude that comes with it.
My character is slightly alcoholic, slightly disturbed and it’s a very new space for me
Talk Shahana and you immediately get an impression that she would be seen in a meaningful role. Not that Game may not be meaningful but an out and out commercial set up like this is a new territory for you as well, right?
I don’t see any of the Excel films as out and out commercial. They have a certain cinematic sensibility that caters to a wider audience. So I think it’s more about the fact that everyone working with them wants to make a good film. Then the fact that it could do well at the box office is a matter of luck. Rock On was also not slated as a big commercial film but it ended up being one. So I wish the same for Game.
I don’t see any of the Excel films as out and out commercial
For someone who made an immediate impression with films like Rock On and Firaaq, do you feel that you have been able to make giant leaps over last few years? Or are you happy with a slow but a steady journey ahead?
Things and situations in our profession are unpredictable. There are good times, then there are lulls. We all saw the effects of recession on our industry and the backlog caused by the producers’ strike. But life goes on, and better times come up and we fight through the downs to enjoy the ups of life. I don’t think there’s any point taking the successes and failures in your life so seriously. Absorb all you can from each situation, that’s what will help you get by. I am moving ahead in life and I am in no need to hurry it up as I am happy enjoying all that I’m soaking in.
However, wasn’t it highly disappointing when an impressive act from you goes totally unnoticed in a film like Jashnn which disappeared without making much waves?
Like I said, failure of any kind is bound to be disappointing but it doesn’t make me cynical. It’s a part of life. I may have been upset when I realised it didn’t work well but I still did my best and I always will continue to do so. After every film I assess my ability to improve in that situation and there always is that potential whether a film does well or not. So I had that awareness both after Jashn and after Rock On as well.
Finally, on the career front, what happens from here on? What’s next that we can look forward to from Shahana?
I don’t think I know myself! I have always gone with my instinct and let the universe decide which direction to take me in. So far it’s worked for me. Let’s hope it continues to (smiles)!