Thanks to her numerous television commercials and shows, Yami Gautam is not new to showbiz. All set to breathe life into her celluloid dreams, the actress will make her big-screen debut with John Abraham’s maiden Hindi production Vicky Donor. Excerpts from a conversation with Jigar Shah.
You were supposed to pursue the IAS. How did you chance upon the world of glamour?
I was preparing for the IAS exams when my destiny took a different turn. Some of my relatives suggested that I try modelling and acting. I told them not to even mention these things. But they took some random snaps of me that they found in my home, and the next thing I know, I got a call from Mumbai for an audition.
Vicky Donor is not you first film. Is that right?
I have done films in Punjabi, Telugu and Malyalam. Even though it was regional cinema, I didn’t take anything for granted. I learnt all my lines. I would write my dialogue in Hindi and mug them up. Regional films were not added remuneration for me; they were an experience. Those are films I can watch with my family.
How did Vicky Donor happen?
The casting director of the film had seen a few of my ad campaigns and I was called for an audition. Then Shoojit-da auditioned me and he too liked my audition. Since I was Punjabi, his main concern was whether I could portray a Bengali. But he told me not to lose any sleep over it and that he would give me a few reference films to learn how to play a Bengali girl.
What was it like working with John Abraham?
We were shooting a very serious scene in Delhi and John visited us at the location. We were completely engrossed in the scene and the crowd kept increasing by the minute. Then, as I looked at the monitor to check the scene, Ayushmaan was whispering “John! John!” to me, and I was wondering what he meant. I turned I saw John Abraham standing right behind us! He was very warm and approachable. It is easy to get intimidated by a star but he made us very comfortable. He is very sorted as a producer. He knows where his role ends and where the creative guy’s role begins.
What have you learnt from Shoojit Sircar?
On the last day of the shoot, I told him it was a treat to work with him. Besides being a very good director, he is a very good person. That makes him even more special. When I was auditioning, I wasn’t familiar with the role, so I performed from my head. Within minutes, he guided me while the camera was rolling, to what he wanted to see in exactly two minutes. And that is the mark of a good director.
You already knew Ayushmaan?
Yes, we are both from Chandigarh and our families have been friends for a very long time.
What next for Yami?
I have got a couple of offers but I haven’t signed any yet. Once Vicky Donor releases, there might be an announcement.
Are you open to regional films?
Why not? There are a lot of interesting things happening across the board and I would like to be part of them. Like my Malayalam film is with Prithviraj. He is making his debut in Hindi films with Aiyya.
Ayushmaan and you are newcomers. How do you think the box office will react to you?
Our film is one of those rare films where creativity meets commercialisation, like the Munnabhai series. I don’t know how the film will open at the box office but, as a team, we have done our best.