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Nushrat Bharucha: Through struggles, success, and finding strength at all times

By Armin S. Saturday, Nov 24, 2018 08:43: PM

In all honesty, I haven’t had a conversation that has been so interesting with such candid perspectives offered by an actor in a very long time. Nushrat Bharucha, riding high on one of the biggest successes of 2018, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, shares the secrets of her journey, the every day struggles she has been through, and how path breaking cinema has always existed. Here’s my chat with the woman who I truly feel needs to be on screen more, as she has a lot to offer:

 

You always had a clear vision of your involvement in the film industry and the kind of work and the kind of journey you wanted to have. With the success of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety – has that vision paid off?

 

When I said I had a very specific vision of what I wanted to do, I meant that there is a certain kind of work that gives me joy. There are certain kinds of films I enjoy watching, which is my take on what this medium has to explore. Also, somewhere I feel as well that we are socially responsible in terms of influencing an entire nation where people are watching you, where they are trying to look at you, take things from what you are saying and what you’re doing…so, somewhere I do feel that we have the scope to convince people in a fun way to change the general taste of films, even if it is through humour. It is to bring better films and stories. I did not want to do mindless films. I did not want to do films that had absolutely no novelty factor. I did not want to do dumb films; I wanted to do a film that was simple but smartly made. I wanted to be associated with films where people enjoyed watching it – it may not turn out to be the biggest hit of the year. My goal was to do films that are of some value.

 

And has your journey reflected that mindset at all times?

Obviously, you have some hits and some misses. I’ve had some misses but SKTKS became the biggest hit. It felt that we sort of got it right. Even my character, for that matter, was a very different and difficult role to say yes to at the beginning. But you have to see the film at the larger level – and I was glad to be a part of it.

 

So I don’t think I’ve fully achieved the path I have set up on. But whatever the audience’s acceptance of my films and me has been, I think it will give me a lot of scope to make my own path. That, in itself, for me is a great achievement because they don’t allow you to do what you want to do. You are always expected to fit into the mold of what a typical masala film should be like. To be able to have a space where I can say, you know, I’ve done this, it was very different, and it still works; so you can have some faith in me that I can pull off different roles.

 

 

You talked about your character. I watched the film – by the end of the film, I didn’t feel that the girl had done anything wrong!

 

See, that’s why Armin, the role was difficult – because the premise of the film is the girl is wrong but the girl is actually not wrong so how do you, as an actor, justify what she is saying or doing and how eventually will all of this culminate in her journey. It was a difficult step to take but I had to think about it from my character’s point of view and what the film is about, on a whole. I had to stop being selfish – I have to think about the audience and who they are rooting for, where is the plot going. You have sometimes be a little selfless. If it works for the film, you have to put your hands up and let the audiences be the judge and decide. I’m just one person. I’m not a nation of millions, where I don’t know what the nation will think. So I had to be selfless and pull out of that, and say, even though she has done nothing wrong, this one guy, she just felt wrong on an instinct and said don’t marry her, and through the film, audiences rooted for the boy, saying don’t marry her. They also don’t know why – but they did.

 

On the larger scale of things, it did work out well.
 

 

Your character suddenly took a spin, which I honestly didn’t think was a spin at all. I mean, the guy has been challenging her all along, she says bring it on – and all of a sudden, she is a character with a grey shade. I think what she did was absolutely warranted for.

 

Exactly. It’s like somebody keeps pushing you into a corner – and are you going to further back down or are you going to pull your gun out and put it on his head, and say “I’ll shoot you, so stop putting me in a corner.” And this girl pulled out a gun. If you think I’m bad, then I’m bad – do what you want to break this marriage up if you think I’m bad, but I’m not doing anything bad – at least to the boy and the parents. I’m only telling you that you will be out of his life because you pulled a fast one on me, and she just protected her future. I don’t think she was wrong in any way. At the end of the day, even the protagonist says, if this is about me being right or she being right, we’ll never come to that – but the basic choice is, either she is in your life or he is in your life…and he cries. Here the boy is shedding tears because he has no other choice. Of course, he didn’t use it as a gimmick. He genuinely felt that he would lose his friend. He became selfish about his relationship in that boy’s life. He’s saying, if this girl is going to give you the ultimatum, then she’s probably not right.

 

To be honest, I found your character empowering. Where do you channel that sort of energy where it seems like the odds are stacked against you? Did you have points of reference from your personal life – where it seems as though everything is stacked against you. How do you carry on like everything is okay, but you are waging war at the same time?

 

Armin, that’s my story every day of my life. Every day of my life is a struggle. I come from a “no name”, no background in the film industry. I’m a girl who has been here for about ten years. I have done television advertisements, did auditions for all of the things that were out there to audition for, met maybe not the big people in the industry but the relevant people in the industry. And I was rejected by a whole bunch of them. When you face rejection, it’s a sort of place where you have to find the strength to be okay about it, and you have to find the strength to say, against all odds, I’m going to believe in myself and I will give myself that fair shot no matter what it takes.

 

So all the sacrifices of not being able to spend time with your family, of not being able to do the things that you would have liked to do normally, and dedicating all your time and energy in a field that is not yielding you anything…and you have no guarantee about what your future will be...you just have to do it. I think that sort of strength gives you enough to put into a character when it is needed. There are wars at different fields that I am waging or I am a part of – it could be an article about me, it could be at home, it could be a financial situation, it could be a role that they gave to somebody else – it is at a multiple level every day of my life. So, I guess, somewhere you are able to channel that sort of energy.

 

Post-release of SKTKS, it seemed as though there is a renewed, heightened interest in you – from a media perspective, anyway. Has your life changed?

 

Of course, most definitely, Armin. When this heightened interest shifts and people become interested in you, so many things, in terms of work, start rolling towards you. I would not say they roll into motion and fall in place, because you still don’t know what that place is. But at least the ball is rolling, at least it is rolling in my court. Whether it is fashion shows, or ribbon-cuttings, or performances, or award functions, if you are being called and being talked about, you are on the right path.

 

But you still have to make the destination of the path. The heightened interest cannot be the only thing you have. All of this sort of gives you good acceleration to move towards the final destination.

 

Your father was very involved in theatre. You’ve done some plays. You’ve done television. Dabbling in different mediums for you, does that give you an advantage from purely an artist’s perspective? What does that do for you when the camera is in front of you?

 

Most definitely, yaa. The different mediums have different formats in terms of shooting and the kind of content, story, and writing. You are able to learn different things on a very regular basis. I have to add in this – every artist has a sensibility. They have a certain graph of stimuli thrown to them – if I am not able to grasp it in a specific way, then the information is just lost.

 

If you don’t have the capability of using the information provided to you by the different mediums, it won’t work…no matter how much you expose yourself to different mediums. Everyone has a different bandwidth of learning. Some things I don’t understand, some things somebody else understands. For me, personally, it helped me a lot – if anything, I understood what I don’t like doing, who I am not.

 

Have I completely understood who I am? No, I have not. But there are certain things I know that I can definitely not venture into and these are the mistakes I should not make because it will not yield an effective result.

 

I learned positive things as well, of course. I learned different things when I did LSD – Dibaker Bannerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokhaa. It opened my eyes in a way – that I never thought of approaching an emotion or delivery of the emotion like this. I most definitely do think that all sorts of forms of arts help you. Like tomorrow, if I want to try singing, it will give me a better range in terms of vocality. If I want to learn music, I will learn rhythm – which I can use in my dialogue delivery, which I can put in my body language when I’m trying to do a character.

 

It’s been ten years as you’ve said. What an interesting journey – rife with difficulties and challenges. But I’m seeing an opening up of wanting to see fresh faces, fresh talent, and fresh scripts. Do you think this is one of the reasons why the film worked? Where do you think the sense of interest has come from? Have you felt a shift?

 

You know, Armin, as a child growing up, there were certain shifts in films, in Bollywood films and audiences and the tastes of films that were running. Which I noticed when I was growing up – it changed my taste in films and my viewing of cinema. Now I realize what the films were – Rangeela completely changed my view of what a film is to be like, in terms of music, the way it was shot, the camera work, the locations – also Urmila Matondkar. She had become the biggest face in the industry.

 

Then you have a film like Hum Aapke Hain Koun – big names, but it comes at a time when you have high-octave action films with lots of drama ruling the nation. Suddenly, you see a family film, where there is not a villain fight sequence, not a single conflict. It is a film of sacrifice, selflessness, emotions. There was no villain in the film. It was a film of two great actors whose characters sacrificed. It changed the dynamics of filmmaking. Nobody had done a film like that until then.

 

Few years later, you see another shift of paradigm, with a Dil Chahta Hai. You see three boys that are not doing anything in the film, but they are on a journey. Suddenly, you become so modern, so urbane – the language, costumes are different. The characters are different. It was like a meteorite hit our industry. I watched the film with a bunch of college students – they were having a ball.

 

The industry has been dealing with change. There is a lot of money at stake. I don’t think change has been happening recently – but it took longer gaps earlier. Now, it is happening quicker simply because the number of films in a year has increased. The numbers of actors, production houses, studios, directors has increased. The entire industry has more products coming out. We think we are seeing new faces, new content doing well. They were doing well – but now there is a boom. People are exposed to global cinema. Our sensibilities have to change to be smarter – because audiences are getting exposed to global cinema that has so much value as well.

 

 

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