Hello Folks! In this week’s Blab with Sandy, we have Bollywood and Internationally acclaimed actress Shahana Goswami with us. She earned huge recognition for her work in films like Rock On!, Firaaq, Ra.One, and others. Let’s dive into the blab I had with her:
Sandy: Hello Shahana. How are you doing?
Shahana: I’m very good thank you.
Sandy: Could you let us know about your background?
Shahana: I grew up in Delhi even though both my parents are from Kolkata. In was in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya. I learned classical dance, Odissi for ten years from Padmashree Kiran Segal (Zohra Segal’s daughter). I also did rock climbing at the National Level when i was 11 and 12 years old. I was always into theatre and acting in school.
After my schooling I came to Mumbai to follow my dreams of becoming an actor. I joined a theatre group called Working Title run by Jaimini Pathak. I worked with them for about 2 and a half years while I was in college at Sophia studying History English and Psychology. I finally majored in English Literature.
Sandy: You come from a theatre experience. How did It all start for you with Yun Hota To Kya Hota?
Shanana: I actually did very little theatre. I started with doing backstage work, operating music, setting the stage etc. I acted only in one play – Seagul by Anton Chekov. Around the same time, I met Shanoo Sharma (a close friend ever since) who sent me for the audition of my first film Yun Hota To Kya Hota directed by Naseeruddin Shah.
After that she kept sending me for the right kind of auditions and things just took off for me. I was very lucky to be able to work with some amazing talents right in the very beginning of my career and a lot has to do with Shanoo as she sent me to the right kind of people.
Sandy: Rock On!! It became a blockbuster and fetched immense name and awards for you. Few anecdotes on it.
Shanana: Rock On! was a fantastic experience. I had already worked on Honeymoon Travels with Excel and I loved their way of working. I was very happy to be considered for the role of Debbie and once again it was Shanoo who auditioned me for the part.
The filming was just too much fun. We were really a close-knit team and everyone that worked on the film was like a family. We had an ongoing game of finding songs with the word ‘dil’ in it and replacing it with silly words to make the lyrics sound bizarre and funny.
We shot our last sequence at the end of the shoot and we all actually partied and stayed in that bungalow all together. It was one of the best experiences ever. Abhishek was a fantastic director and it was wonderful working with him.
Sandy: Nandita Das directorial Firaaq garnered great applause worldwide. Could you put forward your working experience with Nandita Das?
Shanana: Nandita is one of my most favourite directors. I remember marvelling at how organised she was, how she had everything under control and what an absolute perfect temperament she had despite all the hardships and difficulties of a first film.
She was extremely precise and patient as a director and I learned a lot from her both as an actor but also as a director and a team leader. I will always want to be a part of anything Nandita does. I truly respect her.
Sandy: I personally loved your performance in Ru Ba Ru, which was loosely based on If Only. Out of all the films that you acted till date, which role/ movie of yours stands amongst the best according to you?
Shahana: These choices are always difficult to make. It’s hard watching yourself and even harder to judge yourself accurately. Sometimes you do good work but it’s perhaps in a film that you may not love and sometimes the film you love and you don’t like yourself in it.
So, I guess for me one of the few films where I don’t cringe while watching myself is Midnight’s Children by Deepa Mehta and Under Construction by Rubaiyat Hussain.
I also like the character I played in Tu Hai Mera Sunday but that’s also because she’s a lot like I am myself. Another film very close to my heart is Vara – A Blessing directed by Khyentse Norbu.
Sandy: Your role in Ra.One was short yet pivotal. How was it working with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan?
Shahana: It was a great honour to get to work with Shahrukh Khan. He’s extremely gracious and a very hardworking actor. I really learnt a lot just observing him and his utmost commitment to his craft. He would rehearse his scenes endlessly alone, he was always lively, energetic. He was the sun of the solar system of that film. What a pleasure!
And, I’ve worked with Kareena twice! Heroine and Ra.One. She’s extremely talented. I learned from her how to play the camera – to know what works of camera – expressions, angles, looks. She’s very instinctive with all that.
Quick Shot Round:
- Bollywood: growing
- Naseeruddin Shah: finest actor
- Deepa Mehta: force of nature
- Theatre: immersive
- Love: life affirming
- If not acting, Shahana indulges in: her curiosity (which is enormous)
- Favorite holiday destinations: yet to discover (though I’ll never have one favourite)
- Close friends in the film industry: Imran Khan and Avantika Malik Khan, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, Soha Ali Khan, Shikha Talsania, Barun Sobti, Maanvi
- If you were to direct a movie, what genre would it be and whom would you like to cast? It would be about relationships. Cast would depend on the story but I would love to work with Meryl Streep, Marion Cotillard, Shabana
- Given a super power, what would you choose? To spread We lack love in this world.
- One good thing and one not-so-good thing about the film industry: Good thing is that there is a lot of Bad thing is it’s still driven by actors more than stories.
- What’s in your checklist prior to accepting a movie? Instinct, Script, Character, Feeling about director.
Sandy: You haven’t been seen much off-late at the movies (Tu Hai Mera Sunday being the latest outing). Are you willing to plunge into South Cinema? ☺ What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Shahana: I have actually been working mainly in independent international films for the past many years. I do Indian films when they are interesting to me. I would love to do more and work in as diverse a manner as possible. So yes, I would love to do a South Indian film, as long as the content and story interests me.
In the pipeline is a film called Gali Gulieyan directed by Dipesh Jain which will releases tomorrow in India. I will be directing a short film in France sometime early next year. I will be acting in another short film in NYC soon directed by Richa Rudola and I will be acting in a French short film end of September directed by Princia Car and Matthieu Ponchel. There are a few projects in India that are being discussed right now which I will announce soon.
Sandy: A piece of advice for newcomers entering the film industry.
Shanana: Get to know yourself as a person and as an actor and keep trying to stick to being yourself. Besides that, live life so you know how to act it out.
Sandy: A few words about Hyderabad Local.
Shahana: I have just got to know the publication thanks to you Sandeep and read a few of your interviews. It seems very interesting and thank you for including me in your publication.
Editor’s note: Shahana Goswami has delivered some of the most matured and finest performances in her career. Wishing the versatile Shahana a wonderful cinematic journey ahead!