In a career spanning five years, she has been accepted by the industry and her fans as the ‘girl-next-door’. And no one knows it better than the person concerned — Amrita Rao. But she will be seen in a different kind of role altogether in Shyam Benegal’s Welcome to Sajjanpur. Amrita spoke to HT City on her role, working with Benegal and her fetish for playing... the girl next door.
We see you after a long time. Is this the big break you were looking for?
I was shooting almost throughout the past year but I am really excited this time. It’s a vital phase in my career. I am doing a Shyam Benegal film and it goes without saying that it will add value to my career graph.
You are excited...
(Laughs) Do I really need to answer that? Of course I am! I am on a different high, totally. The best thing is that even if people don’t remember me they will always remember Mr Benegal and his profile will carry my name along with the likes of Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi.
But it’s not just Benegal. You have also worked with directors like Farah Khan and Sooraj Barjatiya.
I can only say that I have been lucky. Perhaps I have really impressed them with my acting. But working with Mr Benegal is different. I have grown up watching his films… more because we come from the same community in Karnataka and he is one of India’s biggest directors. I have heard so much about him and wondered how it would be to work with him though I never thought it would happen.
So, how was it working with him?
Fantastic would be too inadequate a word but I don’t know how else to describe him. What I have realised is that he is way ahead of his time and he has given audiences the ability to appreciate films on social issues. All his ideas are still being used today, and directors are tasting success with them.
This is the first time Benegal is trying comedy…
Yes, it’s a comedy… a laugh riot... something he hasn’t tried earlier but it’s done in a very ‘Shyam Benegal style’.
You mean this film too has a social message?
We have tried to capture the essence of society in a very humorous way. It’s a mad film. Every character and incident in this film touches upon profound issues of modern India… rather a modern village.
And you play a villager, yet another unglamorous role.
Yes, it’s something I enjoy. I will never expose because I know it doesn’t suit me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like doing glamorous roles but I have always enjoyed playing the girl-next-door. This role is not just unglamorous. It’s very rustic, as I play an illiterate village potter whose world is Sajjanpur.
You have quite a few releases lined up.
Yes, Shortcut and Victory, which offer me different roles. The industry knows the roles I like and I’m getting the right offers.