She has always been controversy's favourite child but that hasn't deterred Sana Khan from speaking her mind.
The actress doesn't mince her words and is proud that she has fought her own battle and emerged unscathed. When we recently caught up with her for a quick chat, she was down with a case of bad cold. However that didn't dampen her enthusiasm a bit and there she was as candid as possible.
Excerpts from the no holds barred conversation...
Q. Tell us something about the character that you play in the film since the trailer doesn't reveal it much.
A. The trailer has a lot of things but it's just that people haven't chosen to see me after the first 20 seconds of it. It's very clear that it's a film about hacking the satellite and broadcasting a live murder on it.
Wajah Tum Ho is a thriller film with lots of suspense. It has a never seen before concept. I don't think Bollywood has seen something like this before. I was very excited when I first heard the concept of the film. I am playing a lawyer for the first time.
Initially I was very scared when I started filming. Of course, the makers were convinced that I could pull it off and that's the reason why they cast me. Let me tell you that the film has some very powerful dialogues. The courtroom scene is one of my favourites. During that scene, my mind was very preoccupied with the dialogues. I was working with a crowd of people for the first time and wanted to give it my best shot. Thankfully, the scene went off very well. The first person who came to me and appreciated it was my DOP, Prakash Kutty Sir. He is known to be a man of few words. I think that gave me a lot of confidence.
I am not someone who has been working on a regular basis. I wasn't doing any films since almost last two years. So, I was very nervous in terms of my performance. But, I had my director Vishal (Pandya) to guide me. In fact, all to credit goes to him since he worked upon a lot of things, right from how I should look in the film to extracting a good performance. He was very clear about what he wanted in the film. He used to enact and show me. I think that's how I managed it. (laughs)
Q. Do you feel sad when people give more attention to the bold scenes rather than the intense concept of the film?
A. I think there is only a limited segment who is talking about that (bold scenes). The rest have noticed other things also. I met a lot of people in my gym and they told me that they all loved the concept of the film. When you hear these things, you feel good. It's obvious yaar when the film releases, there will be some people who will talk about it for the obvious reasons. Some might talk about the erotic scenes, for some it might be the songs. So, there will always be something which will catch their attention.
When people will watch the film, they will grow with every scene as a viewer. It's not like you will just stick to the romance bit. You won't be able to guess who the culprit is up to the last 15-20 minutes of the film.
Every character in the film has a different shade to them. You will keep guessing till the end.
Q. When we recently spoke to Vishal he told us that you are phenomenal in the film. So, how do you take that compliment?
A. That's very nice of him. When I first met Vishal, he told me that he wasn't cool about his few previous experiences with some of the people with whom he had worked before. So, he had a perception about me that I might also be carrying a certain baggage.
When he met me for the first time he wasn't sure of casting me. He was like you are a perfect fit for my character but I cannot take the extra baggage. I told him that I am a very professional actor. I don't come with any baggage, be it you or anybody else because for me, my work is everything. It has taken me a hell lot of hard work to reach where I am today and I value it the most. I know how important and how hard it has come to me. I will never let go of it because of any other issue. I assured him that he would like to work with me again. I am a director and producer's actor. I don't have any extra tantrums and am a happy-go-lucky person. So, if you are nice to me then you will see my best side. But you are rude to me that I can also treat you the same.
When we started shooting, it took me about 10 days to get into the skin of the character. He used to find fault in every scene of mine. After 10 days of shooting, I took a break for Ramzaan to go for my holy pilgrimage. But when I came back and started shooting, he okayed my shot in the first take itself. I was completely shocked.
When you are wearing lenses and lashes for intense scenes, because of the harsh light, there were times when while doing the close-up shots when my eyes used to dry up. Believe me, in many of the intense shots, because I wasn't supposed to blink my eyes, after a few scenes I used to be left with just a faded image of my co-actor in front of me. I was like I don't care if I can't see my co-star but I must just give it my best shot. (laughs) It was amazing fun to shoot for this film.
The best compliment that I received for this film was from my DOP, Prakash Kutty Sir who told me, 'You looked stunning in the film and a versatile actor. You must get good films. You have that ability to do different characters. That's how your face is designed for camera.' He is someone who rarely compliments people.
Q. Sana, you have become a talking point of the film...
A. Things haven't been easy for me. I have prayed so much to reach where I am today. It has taken me 12 years to come here. It's wasn't like I started getting films as soon as I joined the industry. People have always been judgemental about me and I still don't know why. I don't understand why they always misunderstand me. Half of the time I am misquoted. I say something but it's almost twisted in articles. Blame it the journalists who write these articles with a lower understanding or blame it me who cannot put things in the right words. I don't know who is to be blamed. This has always been the issue with me.
There was a phase in my life where I wondered if I would ever be on a poster. Today, god has been kind enough to fulfil my wish. I don't care if it never happens again. I am happy that I have been able to achieve that with my first film.
Today, as female actors we are all struggling to get scripts where we are as important as the heroes in the films. Luckily since a last few years, there have been great concepts coming with female central protagonist but comparatively it's less. So, it feels nice when the girls have a stronger role in the film and aren't just reduced to a weakling.
Q. How did you deal with your low phase?
A. People should know how to control two things- success and downfall to make their life easy. You should be aware that there will be times of downfall in this industry. I might be successful in films but I might be low in other aspects of life. I know of people who are doing great in films but are depressed in their personal life.
But in my case, I am happy no matter whether it's my films or personal life. Of course, when I wasn't doing films, I had been through that depression zone which a lot of other people also go through. There were times when I used to cry and be clueless about what's happening around me. I used to think in my mind that I am no more a teenager... I have been heading to my late twenties and I don't know what to do in my life.
Because of that even if you get something, you are still left confused. However, the most important thing is the company of people around you. I have seen people who warn you against taking up work and eventually these are the very people who sit idle at home. It has happened with me. I had few friends who warned me against taking up Wajah Tum Ho saying that I was incapable of doing this film. I realized that if I paid heed to them, I would just be sitting at home. Which film today doesn't have a kiss or a bikini scene? Be it a big or a small banner, you have to do such scenes. There is no way out. I thought that if I want to do such things then why not do a film which hasn't been attempted before with a novel concept.
Vishal is someone who is aware about the audience's likes and dislikes. There are a lot of films with sex as the element, been made in the past but not all of them have worked at the box office.
Q. Why do you think that you have always been a soft target for the media?
A. I don't know yaar. I have learnt one thing in this industry that if you are a simple, a happy-go-lucky person and nice to everyone, people stop respecting and valuing you. It's very sad. I have seen people who are nothing in their life but still throw around a lot of attitude.
I have been conned in my life. I have been cheated and that's the reason why I have been a centre of so many controversies. I had become way too vulnerable to people. You become an easy target if you are a celebrity. That has really disturbed me for the last few years. I don't know why I was getting into so many controversies and doing nothing about it. At such times, you don't know whom to ask for help. I couldn't concentrate on my work. I was the only one who was dealing and solving everything.
I have realized that people will always have negative things to talk about you whether you do good or bad things. There will always be people who will hate you. They will come and abuse you on your social page. You wear a hijab in your post and abuse another girl. How does that make you a better person? There are a few who will always stay foolish.
The last two years have been quite trying. I have realized who are my friends and who were just pretending to be. At the end of the day, you have to fight your own struggle.
Q. What are your upcoming projects?
A. I have doing Tom, Dick and Harry 2 which is a comedy film. I am lucky to not get typecast. You should use mind and do what you want. Luckily, I am getting a lot of film offers. I know that good filmmakers will call me post Wajah Tum Ho releases. If not immediately then may be someday.
Q. What advice would you like to give to newcomers especially starlets who have a misconception that skin show and bold scenes give an easy access in this industry?
A. I have been in this industry since 12 years and it's for the first time I have been doing so much of exposing. I was shy then, I am shy today and I will be shy tomorrow. I want to do a film next where there isn't a single kissing scene. I am someone who doesn't want to be a part of it. It's not something what I enjoy the most. I don't enjoy exposing in films.
As far as such scenes are concerned, you have to be very particular about with whom you are working with. There is also a misconception that casting couch gives you work. That's utter rubbish. It's simple logic. Wrong things will happen with you if you meet wrong people. Nobody is here to invest money just for the sake of it otherwise everyone would have been a superstar in this industry.
To all the newcomers I would say that just focus on the brighter side. You will have your ups and downs but don't stop working hard. There is no substitute for hard work.