Fatima Sana Shaikh reached a notable high on the popularity charts, thanks to her impressive act as wrestler Geeta Phogat in Dangal (2016). And now, the actor has signed Thugs of Hindostan, in which she will star opposite Aamir Khan and get to share the screen with Amitabh Bachchan. It goes without saying that Fatima is “extremely excited and happy”. She says, “I can’t express in words how I am feeling right now (smiles). I just want to go on the sets and start shooting for it.” HT chats with the actor about her career, Aamir, her love life and more.
This is the first film you’ve signed since Dangal. Why did it take so long?
After Dangal, I had thought that I should do a big and good film. So, I was just waiting for something to really excite me or something that made me say yes immediately, even with my eyes closed. And I auditioned for the film, as I wasn’t offered the job on a platter. So, it was like Dangal part 2 for me (laughs). I gave so many auditions that I feel that I went through the same phase [that I did when auditioning for Dangal] again.
In Dangal, you played Aamir’s daughter, but now you’re his heroine…
I knew that people are going to think like this. I am an actor after all. Suppose if I hadn’t acted in Dangal, and got an offer to act opposite Aamir sir, I would have, of course, said yes. Even today, if I am asked to act opposite Shah Rukh Khan, I would stand in the frame immediately. When you have grown up watching these stars and are fond of them, you would definitely want to work with them. I used to get disheartened and sad [when I heard such things], because I thought, ‘Me playing his daughter in the film shouldn’t be the reason for me not getting the part’. There have been so many instances of [female] actors playing mothers, daughters and lovers [with the same male actors]. That’s our job, and you keep playing different characters from different age groups. So, I don’t have any issues.
And you feel the same for Shah Rukh Khan too…
I will have no issues doing that [being cast as a heroine with Shah Rukh Khan]. I’m just feeding this into the universe (laughs). Kaash unke saath bhi aise hi ek film mil jaaye (I wish I’d get a film with him just like I got this).
What’s your equation with Aamir like? Is he a guru or a friend?
He’s everything rolled into one — a friend, a guru and a guide. I can talk to him about anything. I can also discuss with him things like, ‘I have had crush on someone, so please tell me what to do’. Sanya (Malhotra) and I go to him for all our love-related problems, and he solves them for us.
Around Dangal’s release, you had said that you were single. Is that still the case?
After watching Dangal, the boys who would try and show interest have started running away from me (laughs). If I try to hug them, they feel I will give them a five pointer [like in wrestling]. I hope that after Thugs, that feeling or fear goes away. Maybe things might change a little. Thoda akaal pada hua hai (there’s a little scarcity).
How badly did you want to be a part of Thugs of Hindostan?
Every film is like a clean slate so, I had a great deal of desire to get this film, especially because it’s a huge project. Any actor would love to be a part of a film that is being backed by Adi sir (Aditya Chopra; film-maker), directed by Victor sir, and has Amitabh Bachchan sir in it. It’s a dream cast. Even if I had got an opportunity to stand in a corner and just experience it, I would have happily done that.
Were you aware that others such as Shraddha Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan and Alia Bhatt were supposedly also in contention for the role?
I only know that I was auditioning for it. I don’t know anything else. I feel very lucky and fortunate that this film came to me. So, whatever it is and who were in contention, nothing of that sort is playing in my head. I am just happy that I managed to bag it.
Many also feel that Aamir could have helped you bag the film?
I have been Aamir sir’s intern for almost a year now. I have worked with him and he isn’t that kind of a person. He is a director’s actor. Also, in a film, a director has the last word on everything. Whatever people may say, Victor sir has chosen me. I have been selected after many auditions, and after putting in all the hard-work. Not because of somebody else. Log toh boltein hain kuch na kuch, unko bolne do (people will talk, so let them) (laughs).
What’s your ambition — to be a big star or the most respected actor?
Frankly, I have no big ambitions. I just want to do good work. I don’t harbour any ambitions that will end up disappointing me tomorrow. I just want to enjoy the present day. So, I have short term goals and not long term ones.
Recently, stories suggested that you and Sanya Malhotra had a tiff.
I also read it. We both said, ‘how has this happened?’ Who is that person who is fighting on our behalf? We couldn’t stop laughing about it. I am in touch with her on a daily basis.