What is your role in Lahore?
I play the role of the Pakistani girl Ida Akhtar, who happens to be the psychiatrist to the Pak kick-boxing team. Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan felt that I suited the part of the Pak girl and hence offered me the role which literally fell into my lap.
Is Lahore your first film as an actress?
I am not a novice to films though Lahore is my debut film. I have already acted in around eight films in Telugu including Maro Charitra and Arya 2 with leading men like Varun Sandesh, Allu Arjun, Prabhas, Jagapathy Babu etc.
You have a glamorous image down South. How easy was it to play Ida?
Yes. Though I have a glamorous image down South if I was able to get into the skin of my character in Lahore with effortless ease, the credit ought to go entirely to Piyush Mishra, Salim Shah and Chitranjan Giri who trained me in acting by teaching me the nuances of acting.
How did the offer to act in Lahore land in your lap?
I am a B.M.M graduate from S.I.E.S College in Mumbai and hail from a totally 'non-filmi" background. Though I have acted in Telugu films, Lahore was the first film that was offered to me. Though the role fell into my lap, it was not easy to get it, because I had to go through a lot of look tests before I was zeroed in for the part. I had earlier done a stint in modeling but was more interested in acting than anything else.
How tough was it to get into the skin of Ida in Lahore?
I am glad that I have made my debut in Hindi films with a challenging role like that of Ida Akhtar, who is a catalyst to many things which happen in the film, which is not a typical love story. Ida is tough. Though it was quite easy for me even to mouth my dialogues in Telugu in Telugu films, to play the character was quite tough. As far as my performance in Lahore was concerned, I had to be neither loud nor low as an actress. I had to show only my face since I was covered from top to toe and just rely on my eyes to show my expressions. Almost throughout the film, I was asked to wear just salwar and kameez, like a typical Muslim girl. I am glad that since I was not required to show my skin and project glamour, now people would take me seriously. It was not difficult for me to mouth dialogue in chaste Urdu, because my mother hails from Uttar Pradesh.
To what extent are you game for exposure in films?
I am not at all averse to exposing in films. I have absolutely no barriers about exposure but I would not go to the extent that say a Mallika Sherawat is ready to show her skin, because I have my own limitations, though I do not have anything against her, because I feel that to each one her own. As an actress, conveying with my eyes is my forte, because I am a very sensitive person in real life.
To what extent could you relate to your character in Lahore?
I could easily relate to the character of Ida in real life too since my minus point is that I am a very straight forward person. In real life too, I would not be scared to voice my opinion even if there are five boys standing next to me. I like women who are strong like Sushmita Sen, who has always been my idol. To tell you the truth, I kept Benazir Bhutto in mind when I set out to play the character of Ida in Lahore.
What according to you is the USP of Lahore?
What I like about Lahore is the fact that it is neither a cliche of a typical stereo typical Hindu Muslim love story nor a jingoistic anti Pak film. Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan has woven a vendetta film with a difference and Lahore is a film on friendship between India and Pakistan. I should confess that my view about Pakistan has actually undergone a radical sea change after watching films like Lahore and My Name Is Khan, which was about Muslims and Pakistan.
Were you scared of the syndrome of the 'casting couch" in films?
'Casting Couch" happens to you only when you want it to happen to you, not otherwise. No one in the industry can force you but once you succumb to it, you are finished. You should know how to handle it. It is like killing your soul. I, for one, would never encourage this syndrome and would rather get what I want due to merit than resort to the short cut.
Just after the release of Lahore, leading lady of the film Shraddha Das tells this correspondent that though she has no barriers as far as exposing in films, she would not go to the extent that Mallika Sherawat is ready to show her skin, because she has her own limitations.