Bengaluru: You began your acting career with an American film ‘Turn Left’. So how did Bollywood happen?
I used to act in theatre groups during high school and college and ‘Turn Left’ happened as a fun project one day in college. I would have never thought my future would actually lie in becoming an actress and that too in India! Bollywood is the best surprise God has given me! I feel it was my destiny to be here, as I never planned it.
How were your initial days in Indian cinema. As an outsider, how difficult or easy was it to look for work?
I believe hard work and a good attitude will take you far. Of course, it is difficult for a complete outsider with no connections, to grab a hold in this industry. But talent often wins. After acting in more than 10 movies with top directors, co-stars and production houses, I’m happy to call Bollywood my home.
You were appreciated in quite a few movies like ‘Nautanki Saala’ with Ayushmann Khurrana, ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewani’ (YJHD) with Ranbir Kapoor, ‘Main Tera Hero’ with Varun Dhawan and also in ‘Yaariyan’; especially for your megahit song Sunny Sunny with Yo Yo Honey Singh. Tell us about your experience working for these.
I love comedy movies. They are my favourite genre. So whenever I get the chance to act in one of such amazing projects, I get super excited. And I’m really glad that my fans appreciate my smaller-budget films like Ishqedarriyaan with Mahaakshay (Mithun Chakraborty’s son) as well. That is the beauty of being an actor — doing all kinds of different projects and being able to make people laugh, cry and be entertained for a few hours — to forget about the struggles of real life.
What’s in the pipeline? Are there any directors you are particularly keen to work with in Bollywood?
I feel so blessed with the amount of amazing directors I’ve worked with — from Rohan Sippy to Ayan Mukerji and Dhavid Dhawan. Now my next film with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma is directed by the amazing Imtiaz Ali and I really couldn’t ask for more. Of course, there are always the great epic directors who I would like to work with — like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shankar Shanmugam, S.S.Rajamouli.
What’s the latest Bollywood movie that inspired you?
I love comedy films like ‘YJHD’ and ‘Main Tera Hero’, costume films ‘Bahubali’ or ‘Devdas’ and charming little stories of life, like ‘Lunchbox’, ‘English-Vinglish’ or ‘Hindi Medium’. They all inspire me.
You have worked in Hollywood as well as Bollywood. Tell us the difference between the two in terms of working style?
I think the greatest difference between movies in the east and west, is the drama quotient and the portrayal of emotions. In the west, they tell more realistic stories, which is nice from that perspective. We in India know how to make a movie that will shake up our bones and make us cry our hearts out. We like to dream up stories so great, one could never imagine! I prefer the magical life over the sober life, so most of my favourite movies are from the east.