Rising star: Sayani Gupta


Rising star: Sayani Gupta

10 things you didn't know about the actor from Fan

By Arshie Chevalwala  March 1st, 2016

You can tell Sayani Gupta loves what she does. After a full weekend of filming, the actor is still upbeat and passionately discusses everything from her Bollywood experience (and hanging out on sets with Shah Rukh Khan) to the political climate of the country. The Kolkata native, who made a memorable debut with Margarita, With A Straw, Shonali Bose’s 2014 film about living and loving with a disability, is grateful she escaped her former nine-to-five existence. But even with three big releases this year – Maneesh Sharma’s Fan, Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos where she plays Ranbir Kapoor’s best friend and the genre-defying Baar Baar Dekho – Gupta is unfazed at all the attention. (“I’ll consider myself famous when people know how to say my name” – it’s pronounced Shayoni). Here are 10 other things you may not know about the 30-year-old actor:

Her mid-life crisis came early. “I had a job in marketing and it made me realise that I didn’t want to live an uninspiring life. I’d trained as a dancer for 14 years and dabbled in theatre during college, but I knew film is what I wanted to do. So I just went for it, and I have no regrets.”

She’s really committed to her craft. For her part as a blind activist and Kalki Koechlin’s love interest Khanum in Magarita, she workshopped extensively and worked with the National Association For The Blind. “For the first two weeks, everyone on set thought I was actually blind because I’d always be in character. They wanted to push me down a flight of stairs when they found out that I could actually see!” 

She’s a total fan girl. “After I was cast in Fan (out in April), I was sitting in a room waiting for my contract and it hit me: I was signing a film with Shah Rukh Khan. I started crying. All I could think was ‘Omg I’m going to meet Shah Rukh’.”

She moonlights as a therapist. “I have so many friends who are anorexic or bulimic and it really saddens me to watch people continuously hating themselves. I’m setting up a workshop using theatre exercises, dance and painting to help people fall in love with who they are.”

She can’t wait to get a song-and-dance routine in. “I’d love todo a Bollywood masala film and be romanced by a hero. I’m dying to perform at an awards function. It always comes back to dance for me, but nobody calls me for that stuff, they always call me for serious roles.”

She can’t do her accounts either. “The first thing I did when I got to Bombay was hire an accountant. It’s the biggest challenge for me right now, I just take what I’m offered because I’m too awkward to talk money or haggle.”

Her work goes beyond Bollywood. “Bollywood is such a small pocket in an actor’s life. I’ll always continue to do theatre – it’s my first love; and I have and will choose indie-shorts over big-budget films if the characters inspire me more. I also really want to do some work internationally. It’s my dream to work with Wes Anderson and I keep writing emails to [Chinese filmmaker] Wong Kar-wai…I’m hoping he’ll reply someday.”

She can’t help but speak up. The FTII alumna joined the student protests against the BJP’s choice of appointing ’90s TV actor and party member Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the organisation. “I’m not an activist and I don’t want to be. But I can’t help myself, people really need to know about this stuff. It really pisses me off when a picture of me gets 500 likes and a smart article only gets 5.”

She’s on a (permanent) social media hiatus. “I don’t take social media too seriously because I’m not tech savvy and I’d honestly rather read a book. My schedule is so packed I can’t sit around fretting about how many followers I have.”

She can’t wait to be a superstar. “I used to always think I was an actor and I didn’t care about being a star. But I was shooting a commercial with Deepika [Padukone] one day and I realised that she’s a serious actor but the way people treat her is different. People respect your time and take your work seriously. They put in more effort you find the perfect roles because they’re written for you.”

Photographs: Tarun Khiwal. Styling: Malini Banerji. Make-up and hair: Deepa Verma. Location Courtesy: WIP — The Street Art Show (#wipshow) Hosted By St+Art India Foundation (St-artindia.org) Supported By Asian Paints and in collaboration with Concor and Inland Container Depot. Production: Parul Menezes. Assisted By: Devika Wahal, Moumita Sarkar, Gurpreet Kaur

 

 

You can tell Sayani Gupta loves what she does. After a full weekend of filming, the actor is still upbeat and passionately discusses everything from her Bollywood experience (and hanging out on sets with Shah Rukh Khan) to the political climate of the country. The Kolkata native, who made a memorable debut with Margarita, With A Straw, Shonali Bose’s 2014 film about living and loving with a disability, is grateful she escaped her former nine-to-five existence. But even with three big releases this year – Maneesh Sharma’s Fan, Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos where she plays Ranbir Kapoor’s best friend and the genre-defying Baar Baar Dekho – Gupta is unfazed at all the attention. (“I’ll consider myself famous when people know how to say my name” – it’s pronounced Shayoni). Here are 10 other things you may not know about the 30-year-old actor:

Her mid-life crisis came early. “I had a job in marketing and it made me realise that I didn’t want to live an uninspiring life. I’d trained as a dancer for 14 years and dabbled in theatre during college, but I knew film is what I wanted to do. So I just went for it, and I have no regrets.”

She’s really committed to her craft. For her part as a blind activist and Kalki Koechlin’s love interest Khanum in Magarita, she workshopped extensively and worked with the National Association For The Blind. “For the first two weeks, everyone on set thought I was actually blind because I’d always be in character. They wanted to push me down a flight of stairs when they found out that I could actually see!” 

She’s a total fan girl. “After I was cast in Fan (out in April), I was sitting in a room waiting for my contract and it hit me: I was signing a film with Shah Rukh Khan. I started crying. All I could think was ‘Omg I’m going to meet Shah Rukh’.”

She moonlights as a therapist. “I have so many friends who are anorexic or bulimic and it really saddens me to watch people continuously hating themselves. I’m setting up a workshop using theatre exercises, dance and painting to help people fall in love with who they are.”

She can’t wait to get a song-and-dance routine in. “I’d love todo a Bollywood masala film and be romanced by a hero. I’m dying to perform at an awards function. It always comes back to dance for me, but nobody calls me for that stuff, they always call me for serious roles.”

She can’t do her accounts either. “The first thing I did when I got to Bombay was hire an accountant. It’s the biggest challenge for me right now, I just take what I’m offered because I’m too awkward to talk money or haggle.”

Her work goes beyond Bollywood. “Bollywood is such a small pocket in an actor’s life. I’ll always continue to do theatre – it’s my first love; and I have and will choose indie-shorts over big-budget films if the characters inspire me more. I also really want to do some work internationally. It’s my dream to work with Wes Anderson and I keep writing emails to [Chinese filmmaker] Wong Kar-wai…I’m hoping he’ll reply someday.”

She can’t help but speak up. The FTII alumna joined the student protests against the BJP’s choice of appointing ’90s TV actor and party member Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the organisation. “I’m not an activist and I don’t want to be. But I can’t help myself, people really need to know about this stuff. It really pisses me off when a picture of me gets 500 likes and a smart article only gets 5.”

She’s on a (permanent) social media hiatus. “I don’t take social media too seriously because I’m not tech savvy and I’d honestly rather read a book. My schedule is so packed I can’t sit around fretting about how many followers I have.”

She can’t wait to be a superstar. “I used to always think I was an actor and I didn’t care about being a star. But I was shooting a commercial with Deepika [Padukone] one day and I realised that she’s a serious actor but the way people treat her is different. People respect your time and take your work seriously. They put in more effort you find the perfect roles because they’re written for you.”

Photographs: Tarun Khiwal. Styling: Malini Banerji. Make-up and hair: Deepa Verma. Location Courtesy: WIP — The Street Art Show (#wipshow) Hosted By St+Art India Foundation (St-artindia.org) Supported By Asian Paints and in collaboration with Concor and Inland Container Depot. Production: Parul Menezes. Assisted By: Devika Wahal, Moumita Sarkar, Gurpreet Kaur