With an enviable 30 million followers on Instagram, Disha Patani's soaring popularity on social media is simply undeniable. Quiz her about the reason behind the same and the actress sheepishly quips, "I don't know the reason for my popularity, but most of my fans are teenagers, with many of those struggling in life like how we all struggle in our teenage years."
As the conversation steers towards her humble beginnings in the industry, the sprightly girl from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh confides, "Since a young age, I was a little more focused than other girls. I knew what I wanted. During my struggling days, I used to share an apartment with other models. They were all foreigners and a lot of sh*t used to happen in my apartment. But I was always away from all that. I had a good upbringing because of my family. So, I am a little aware about things around me."
With just few days remaining for her upcoming film Malang to hit the big screens, Disha Patani settles for a freewheel chat with Filmibeat.
Excerpts from the conversation.
'I Don't Like To Watch Myself On Screen'
Q. How challenging was it for you to play your part in Malang because Mohit Suri is known to give an emotional graph to his characters? How was it getting into his zone of cinema?
A. It was hard. But, working with Mohit Suri means he gives you everything on platter. He knows exactly what he wants from his actors. He does script-readings and sometimes, even narrates our lines. He's very open to ideas and the easiest person to work with. He understands women really well. I think nobody can shoot a girl like him. When it comes to his heroines, he shows the realness of their characters.
Q. You are one of the few actresses who is known to have a terrific screen presence. How do you feel when you see yourself in films?
A. I hate myself. I don't like to watch myself on screen. When I was watching the trailer, I was like, 'sh*t, sh*t'. That's why I didn't see the film. I find my voice irritating..I don't know. I am very shy.
Q. You mentioned that you don't know many people in the industry despite working here for four years. Do you see yourself as a recluse?
A. I might not come across as shy because of social media. But, I am one in real life. I feel awkward in social places. I like being in my house and doing gymnastics. Rarely, I attend parties. I don't party for the purpose of enjoyment. I know I need to be a little more social. I will try my best. I am introvert as a person. Plus, I don't drink. So, I don't know what to do in parties. Usually, they don't have good food, so I get stuck. (laughs)
'I Don't Necessarily Look For Roles Where I Am Looking A Certain Way'
Q. You are known for her glam roles. Have you ever thought of going the rustic way or trying her hand at niche cinema?
A. I played a simple role in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and a mother in Baaghi. Malang is my first film where I am playing a modern girl. Otherwise, I always play small-town girl on screen, which I am actually in real life. However, I would love to take up other roles as well. It depends on the script. I don't necessarily look for roles where I am looking a certain way. I enjoy the genre of action and thrillers. I like comedy action as well. Right now, I want to do something that I would like to watch.
As far as rustic characters are concerned, nobody has approached me yet with those kind of roles. I guess, with time if it comes and I am in a state of mind where I want to do it, I will do.
Q. Despite huge box office successes, you seem to be choosy about your roles...
A. I am still shy, I guess. I started working as a model when I was 18. There were a lot of responsibilities on my shoulder. I didn't ask my family for any financial help. I had to take care of myself and work. Those were the days when I was supposed to enjoy my life. But that never happened because I was constantly giving auditions or doing something.
I realized that I love acting. I enjoyed doing TV commercials. I enjoyed being in front of camera more than walking on the ramp. So, I just do what I like to do. I don't take up films just because I want to be on top. Instead, I choose my roles where I would enjoy the journey more than anything else.
'Sometimes I Feel I Don't Belong Here'
Q. Minus any film connections in the industry, who do you seek advice from when it comes to picking up films?
A. Well, it's usually myself. That's why I take so much time because I don't really have people advising me in work. I just rely on my inner voice to pick up a film. That's what I have followed since my debut film.
Q. You worked with Salman Khan in Bharat. How much did that give a boost to your career?
A. I don't know. I hope it helps me. I was very happy to do Bharat because I love dancing. I always wanted to do that one Bollywood song (Slow Motion) which I had never attempted before. This was my first song. I was happy because I got to work with a megastar in Salman Sir (Salman Khan). I was so lucky to work with Vaibhavi Merchant who is one of my favourite choreographers. The song became a hit and I was like 'yay'.
Q. During Bharat's promotions, you wondered if she would get to work with Salman again, and now, you are already shooting your second film (Radhe) with him...
A. I am so lucky and very fortunate. Touchwood. Sometimes I feel like I don't belong here. I don't go out meeting people and stuff like that. But still, I am getting work and doing something that I like the most. I am always thanking God for that.
Q. Is it intimidating when it comes to a superstar like Salman Khan?
A. It is for sure intimidating. But now, I am used to it. He is so good with his comic-timing while we are doing scenes together. He is very spontaneous. You have to be very quick to match up to him. I haven't done comedy before and it's really hard. I used to earlier think of emotional scenes as challenging but now, I have realized that comedy is another level of difficulty. He's always guiding me.
'I Feel Like A Newcomer Every Time I Am On Set'
Q. You had once mentioned that you are keen to do an out-and-out action film...
A. I would love to do an out-and-out action films. It depends on what the audience wants. It's not that the producers ain't making it. If people demand to see something like that, then such films will be made. Once people's perception change and they are willing to see a girl fighting, it will happen.
Q. How do you access your growth as an actor?
A. Every time I do a film, I feel like I have forgotten whatever I knew. I feel like a newcomer every time I am on the sets. I feel I have so much to learn. That's maybe because I didn't take any formal training in acting. I learnt through auditions. I used to learn my lines and do it my way. So, I never really had any institute to learn. Every film is a learning process for me.
'As A Kid, People Used To Tease Me As Jaadu'
Q. How do you deal with the constant scrutiny and media attention considering you are quite introvert in real life?
A. When it comes to introverts like me, we don't really think so much (laughs). I was bullied a lot as a kid. Till my tenth grade, I used to sport short hair and was a tom boy. I used to be very thin, tall wearing shirt People used to tease me as 'Jaadu'. I never realized that I was bullied because I was so much immersed in my small world. That has helped me now. It doesn't matter what people say. I don't allow these things to get inside my head.
Q. Finally, what's your dream role?
A. I love Wonder Woman, Hulk, and Avengers. I won't mind playing a female hulk, a pink hulk. My dream role is to play a superhero.