In this free-wheeling telephonic exclusive interview for bollyy.com and Mayapuri, KHUSHBOO PUROHIT tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that acting is just ‘living in the moment’ and not being conscious of the camera.
How did you spend the four months of lockdown?
I spent some quality time with my family.
How did you prepare for the role of the rape victim Tanya Dewan in Scotland?
We conducted a few workshops with Adam Saini who plays my father. The director Manish Vatssalya was of tremendous help too in every step during this film. He has done a fabulous job in the film himself.
You have very minimal dialogues in the film where after the rape; you convey everything through expressions rather than dialogue!
Yes, I was initially a bit perplexed by the lack of lines but my director explained to me how less is more in such cinema.
Why has there been a big gap between your first film Ram Leela and Scotland, why is that?
There was no gap as such; I did a lot of work in television.I was a finalist of Dance India Dance and then worked on serials like Sasural Genda Phool, Reporters, Hamari Sister Didi and recently appeared on Tara from Satara. So my acting skills were all brushed up this while. I also performed in a few songs on the big screen, having done dance numbers in Jai Gangaajal and Babloo Happy Hai. As a lead actress, this is my first project.
Does your transition to films through Scotland automatically mean goodbye to Television?
Not at all! I’ll go wherever my work takes me, the medium is irrelevant.
Are you involved with any project currently?
I was scheduled to do a song in Mumbai Saga, but due to external factors the shoot has been delayed, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. I also have a few offers from serials.
Will you agree that acting in films is more qualitative than acting in TV serials which are more quantitative?
The economics of TV serials are a bit tricky, although most soaps air daily, the actors get their remuneration every 90 days whereas in films we even get an advance token amount but all said and done, you cannot deny that TV does give us a chance to be seen every day.
How did you bag the break for Scotland?
I auditioned for it and also participated in a look test, which really impressed the makers. I then put on a British accent which sweetened the deal as they took me on board. (Laughs)
How did you cultivate the British accent for the film? Have you lived abroad?
Not at all, although I have travelled for many events, I am a proper Gujarati girl from Gandhi Nagar. I learnt the foreign accent by observing a lot of my friends staying abroad though.
Have you worked in any Marathi film?
I haven’t as yet but I did perform in a song for an unreleased Marathi film.
You were supposed to do some films before Scotland. What went wrong?
I was all set to do Yaariyan but unfortunately things didn’t work out. I was even a part of Ram Leela but conjunctivitis got the better of me and I had to opt out of the film. I was infected while shooting a song sequence in the film but you can still spot me in “Lahu Munh Lag Gaya”.
What difference do you find between performing and acting?
There is a huge difference! I have been into dance from childhood, and been involved in Bharatnatyam since the age of 9. I auditioned for Dance India Dance while in college and since then, there has been no looking back. Acting is not just about making moves. It is a lot more layered;there are expressions, dialogues, silences and so much more. It is a wonderful challenge although! Actors are the only ones who can wear different shoes and embody so many personalities.
Are you a trained actor?
Yes, I studied at “Kreating Characters”, mentored by Samar and Rupesh Sir.
Did formal training benefit you?
Definitely, it taught us how to approach a production house and our teachers gave us a lot of wisdom.
Which directors are there in your wish list as an actor?
I wish to work with Rajkumar Hirani and Rajamouli apart from many names in Hollywood like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
Who are your favorite actors?
Will Smith and Scarlett Johansson for sure and also Kate Winslet. In India, I am a big fan of Akshay Kumar, Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana. Among the actresses, I admire Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai.
Are you ready to do bold roles on screen?
I am not interested in doing such scenes as of now, especially with COVID 19 lurking around. It isn’t even a part of our Indian culture. As and when I do agree to do brazen scenes, it also will matter a lot who my co-star is.
Is your family very conservative?
My family has always been very supportive and my dad is a huge promoter of my work. I have proud parents. My dad personally dropped me for auditions in Mumbai.
Have you met your Mr.Right?
I have no time for Mr.Right. I want to be right for myself now. I am very ambitious and want to give back to the whole world with education and so many other avenues. I want to open a school which also teaches drama. It will change a lot of mindsets. Education will inculcate upon kids a sense of ethics.
When you entered the industry were you skeptical of the casting couch?
I have not faced it personally but I do know people who have, as the real industry has a dark side, and everything is not dreamy and rosy.There are many kinds of people here but thankfully I have tackled them very well. There are a few makers who have massive egos but I haven’t given up and will make it on my own in this industry.
What kind of roles are you seeking for upcoming projects?
I would love to play a strong character in a female centric film. I believe in giving my best shot no matter how big the challenge is.
What according to you is “acting”?
Acting, to me, is just ‘living in the moment’ and not being conscious of the camera. That nervousness should disappear. One should never be nervous. Acting also has a lot of facets; one can go from good, loving, playful to dark and bad.
Sharmila Tagore had advised Saif Ali Khan to think of the camera as his girlfriend to get rid of his nervousness in the beginning of his career!
(Laughs) You are absolutely right! The camera should be a friend not a hindrance.
How many TV serials have you worked on till date?
I have been a part of around 12 TV serials till date.
Which are your favorite out of these 12?
My part in Dehleez was appreciated and Sasural Genda Phool was also a memorable one as well.
How long have you been part of this industry?
About ten years and it has been a whirlwind roller coaster. I became an overnight sensation with Dance Indian Dance and since then God has been kind as I have not looked back.
Have you also acted in any web show? Do you think OTT is a good opportunity?
I have not ventured into the web series world till now. I have been offered some bold stories, but I don’t see myself in those roles, I would rather stick to my comfort zone and excel there than unnecessarily experiment. Martial arts and dance are the two zones I really crave to explore.
We have to evolve according to the times, and the lockdown demands a few changes in the way we look at things. I am very happy that if I had to step into the OTT space, it happened with a household name like Shemaroo. They have been in the industry for so many years and will surely project our film the way it needs to be. ShemarooMe gives hope that there is always a place for fresh stories, different ideas and great talent. I am excited to catch “Scotland” on ShemarooMe Box Office this Friday. This is a blessing in disguise for me too.
I hope to see you in more films in the future!
I hope so too, I have been training in martial arts recently. After working on this film, I have realized that self defense is a very important thing to learn for women in this country.