What has the response been like to the trailer and songs of the film?
The reaction has been quite unexpected. The entire team of Hate Story IV did not expect such amazing reactions to the trailer. In a span of a few days, we crossed 35 million views on YouTube. Not only the trailer, the promos, the songs and everything that relates to our film have been received well. The audience has been really warm towards our film. Everybody is looking forward to watching Hate Story IV, which is overwhelming for me.
How did you come on board Hate Story IV?
When I received the offer to do this film and my director narrated the story to me, I had no idea it was the story of Hate Story IV. When I heard the script, I really loved my character Tasha, who is a supermodel in the film. I totally fell in love with the script. I was told only later that it was Hate Story IV.
Initially, I thought I should watch the earlier instalments of the franchise since I hadn’t watched them but then changed my mind as I felt I needed a fresh approach towards Hate Story IV. So, I haven’t seen any of the instalments yet but I will watch them as soon as my film releases.
Even though this is the fourth instalment in the franchise, the director did not want it to be very different from the other three, in terms of the story and scale; although this time the stakes are higher. The entire film has been shot in London and Dubai. The story is set in London.
I could relate to my character being a supermodel as I was a supermodel before I became an actor; I have been associated with pageants. But what is really different and unique is that my character in the film is very strong, very independent, free-spirited yet very dominating and, at the same time, very vulnerable and very real. She is also very helpless.
It was pretty challenging to get so many variations and so many shades to the character. I also created a back story for myself. I listed a lot of things that my character was surrounded by. It was like homework for me but it helped me portray my character better. The back story included things like her past, what she was doing in London, her relationship with her family, also with the other characters in the film, things that might have happened to her, basic characteristics and all that.
I had to do a lot of research and I trained myself mentally and physically to play the character of Tasha. Since she is a supermodel, she needed to look glamorous, she needed to look like a star. But apart from that, there were many scenes where there was a great amount of mental exhaustion. It is one of the most mentally exhausting roles I have ever played. In some scenes, my character had to break down mentally and getting into that zone was very challenging for me as an actor. So I am really looking forward to how people will perceive my character.
Hate Story IV is definitely different from the previous instalments and it is special to me because it is the first female-centric role I have portrayed since Tasha is the hero of the film. All the previous films I have done focused more on the male characters. I never had to shoulder major responsibilities in my previous films but it is very different this time. I am waiting for the results on the 9th of March and am all set to accept it with all my heart. Yes, it is the first time in my life that I am feeling a little nervous, I have to admit it.
Did you feel like you had to live up to the success of the previous instalments in the franchise?
Yes, I know it is a successful franchise, and even though the name is Hate Story, I am sure this is the most loved and fastest growing franchise in terms of numbers. There is a certain kind of pressure for me but this is a different kind of story. The entire story is about my character Tasha.
Hate Story IV is different in the sense that it is based on real incidents. Hate Story IV might not be only for all Hate Story franchise lovers but also for those who are passionate about dancing. There are a lot of songs and different forms of dancing in the film.
You are seen recreating a couple of popular songs in the film. What was that like?
I am a trained dancer and practice 11 forms of dance including Kathak, jazz, hip-hop, ballet, contemporary dance, Bollywood, the cha cha cha and ballroom. T-Series and Hate Story have had a great association in terms of the music in the previous films. I was lucky to get a chance to be a part of great music like this.
When I heard the music of Aashiq banaya aapne, I was very happy that it was such an iconic song and that it needed to be better than the previous song. When Aashiq banaya aapne released originally, I was in class six. I did not watch the song then as we were not allowed to watch songs like these. I saw it only a couple of years later. So I kind of remember what the original song looked like. If you listen to the song carefully, you will realise that it is not at all a dance-based number. As an artiste and an actor, it was my responsibility to bring something new to the table. When I enact a scene, I improvise as much as I can and do the same with my songs.
There is this person called Yanis Marshall who dances in heels. We tried a similar kind of choreography for Aashiq banaya aapne. It is a very unusual form of choreography. You have to dance in pencil heels, which are 5 inches long! Most people find it difficult to walk or even balance in those heels but the entire performance was done in those heels. This is definitely new for the audience. In fact, I think this is one of the major reasons we crossed 50 million views on YouTube in such a short span of time.
We have one more song, called Naam hai mera mera, which is also a recreated version of an older song, which Deepika Padukone made her debut in. This is a unique dance form due to the arm movements involved. In the song, they have showcased the life of a supermodel. We shot this completely in Dubai. Tasha is dancing in a yacht and then in a desert. We have used different forms of dance in the choreography of the songs. I don’t think anybody has tried these forms in Bollywood. It was fun!
The Hate Story series, especially the last instalment, is labelled as an erotic thriller. Did you have any apprehension about being stereotyped in such roles?
From the beginning of my career, which was with Singh Sahab The Great, where I played a bholi Punjabi kudi, to my second film Sanam Re, where I played a glamorous socialite, I have been changing my image for the audience. After my first film, I was perceived as a non-glamorous actress and I wanted to break that notion. I did that in Sanam Re and again with Great Grand Masti, where I played a ghost. Now I will do it with this film, where I am playing a supermodel, which was a requirement of the character. She is supposed to look like a supermodel and I have maintained that aura in the film.
In fact, while filming, I insisted that everyone call me Tasha, not Urvashi. I asked my director Vishal Pandya to also do this and even save my name in his phone as ‘Tasha’. I completely immersed myself in Tasha during the two and half months we were in London.
I don’t have any major expectations of this film; I just want people to fall in love with Tasha and the movie Hate Story IV. Not many people know that there is a surprise at the end of the film, a strong social message.
What was the dynamic on the set between you and the other actors, like Karan Wahi, Vivan Bhatena and Ihana Dhillon?
We had an amazing team. We had such a lovely process of working with such professional actors who were always very supportive. As an actor, you always feel the need to have other actors who support and help enhance your own performance. It’s team work. And that’s exactly what happened in Hate Story IV. I cannot recall a single moment where any of us had a problem. We had a blast on set, and when you shoot overseas, it’s a lot of fun.
From a modelling career, to winning a beauty pageant, to being in Hate Story IV today, take us through your journey.
The journey has been fruitful. I wanted to become many things when I was growing up, like an aeronautical engineer, an astronaut and a gymnast. Then I wanted to become something else, which is what happens when you are a kid. What I have chosen to become is amazing because I have got a chance to work with great people, which includes all my directors and producers. I am a director’s actor and really enjoy being a part of films like this.
As I said, this is the first female-centric film I have done. But I have grown up watching a lot of things. Take, for example, Gal Gadot, who was crowned Miss Israel and who has done such a good job. Not that Wonder Woman has anything to do with Hate Story IV. But she is an inspiration just like Jennifer Lawrence, who has delivered great performances. There are many other actresses whom I really like and who inspire me such as Rani Mukerji, Kangana Ranaut, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma. I take it as a compliment, to have got to work in a female-centric film at such an early stage in my career. It is very challenging.
As an actor, do you follow box office numbers?
Yes, I do, a little. I have started doing that now. As an actor, you have to be completely aware of the box office and its numbers. At the end of the day, it is a business, it is your business. The bigger the opening you have, the better the film sells later.
Lastly, what is next for you after Hate Story IV?
There are a few things I am discussing but I have decided to not talk about anything but Hate Story IV till it releases on March 9.