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‘Student of The Year’!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It was perhaps her charm in advertisements, directed by renowned directors, that caught the eye of Bollywood’s kingpin Karan Johar to cast her for his upcoming Student Of The Year. But it was her talent and experience which comes from her widely acclaimed theatre performance, applauded by critics, that clinched the deal for Manasi Rachh to star in the much awaited film of the year. ADC’s Sandeep Hattangadi spoke to the lady with the buzz in a brief chat.

A relative newcomer with just two movies behind you, how did you manage to procure this role in a Dharma Productions?
That’s true. I consider myself really lucky, because after Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, which was my debut and Charlie Ke Chakkar Main, with Naseeruddin Shah which is not even released yet, things went really smooth for me as a newcomer. Nandini Shrikent who was casting for Student of the Year, called me for auditions. For the first round I had to read lines from another film, and two weeks she called me again and this time they had dialogues from the film itself, for which I did my part and left. After a few days I got a call from the production department saying I had clinched the role. Things were really that simple and it moved very fast from there. It was so exciting!

What’s your character in the movie?
I play this character called Shruti Pathak, who is Shania’s (Alia’s Bhatt) best friend in the movie. She is this really headstrong girl who has to always fight to prove her mettle as she doesn’t like playing second fiddle to Shania. The character is outspoken and doesn’t feel shy calling a spade a spade. She is also extremely ambitious and focused on her sport.

Does your character draw parallels to the person in you?
My character is definitely very strong, but as a person she just doesn’t know how to have fun! I am completely the opposite. I am way more fun, chilled out and bubbly! Yes, I am very aggressive when it comes to my work and I will do what it takes because I am a go-getter, but on the personal front, I don’t harbor any angst within. I like to write, paint bottles, indulge in creativity. I am not angry with life like my character is.

You sound almost opposite to your character. How difficult is it to essay roles that are so contrasting?
It was challenging for sure, but after a point when you understand where it is going, then it gets into your system. You have to understand why she is doing certain things, and for this, I would give Karan (Johar) full credit. No matter how random my questions were, he would explain patiently and in depth, giving enough on the character and the reasons for why they behave in a certain way, so I always had a back story in my head going on.

Karan Johar is a director every actor worth his grain of ambition in Bollywood wants to work with at some point, and you got this chance really early on in your career. How was the feeling and the experience of being directed by him?
If there is one word for Karan, it is simply that he is so sorted. He knows exactly what he wants from his characters, from his sets, it is like he has played the movie a hundred times in his head before it is even shot! The strange thing is, when I first knew I had to work with him, I took it in a very matter of fact fashion, as I have worked with other big names like Prasoon Pandey and Sujit Sarkar before. But when I met Karan for the first time, his humility stunned me.

Moving onto the cast ensemble, share something about the three leads – Alia, Sidhharth and Varun. What kind of energy did the three bring to the sets?
Alia: I have to say, she is very talented and very sincere with her work. She is a very pretty looking girl, and is a true sweetheart. Since she was also the youngest one on the sets, everyone would keep pulling her leg but it was all done in good spirit.  And there were times when we were shooting together, where I would forget I am doing a scene, because it all felt so real, because we were constantly playing off each other, it has been great! There were times in Bangkok where we partied together and just chilled in Dehradun post pack up as a whole group.

Varun: In one word, Awesome! Varun is so talented, and on and off the sets he was always up to something. He was so humble one couldn’t believe he was David Dhawan’s son.

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