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'My parents weren't comfortable with my intimate scenes'

March 25, 2014 14:33 IST

'My parents weren't comfortable with my intimate scenes'


Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

'I don’t know what the makers of the film saw in me. I never wanted to become an actress. But if a good opportunity comes my way, I might as well make good use of it.'

Dishkiyaoon actress Ayesha Khanna, in an honest chat.

Ayesha Khanna, the leading actress in Shilpa Shetty’s debut production venture Dishkiyaoon, has a fairytale story of how she became a heroine.

The young lady was roped in to style lead actor Harman Baweja in the film. But in a twist of fate, Shilpa Shetty spotted her, and auditioned her for a role instead.

Ayesha has earlier worked as a stylist on films like Band Baaja Baraat and Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl.

From styling for films to acting in them, Ayesha talks about her journey as Sonil Dedhia listens in.

You were working as a stylist on Dishkiyaoon and then suddenly you were cast as the lead actress in the film. How did that happen?

Yes, I was working for about a month on the costumes. One day, the director (Sanamjit Singh Talwar) took me along to meet Shilpa Shetty to show her the costume references for Harman and the lead girl, who wasn’t finalised yet.

As I was showing my work to her, Shilpa told Sanamjit, 'This girl is pretty. Why don’t we audition her as well and see what happens?'

My immediate reaction was a no, since I had never acted before.

But they didn't budge. The director gave me two scenes and told me to come prepared the next day.

I gave the audition expecting nothing to come of it.

The same day, it was shown to Shilpa and Raj (Kundra, Shilpa's husband) and they loved it.

The next day I got a call saying I was the lead in the film! I was shocked. I didn’t know how to react. I felt these guys were kidding, as such things don’t happen in real life.

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Image: Ayesha Khanna


'I was really scared and nervous on the first day of the shoot'

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Weren’t you excited as well?

More than excited, I was nervous. Once they told me that I was doing the film, I thought to myself, ‘I just did two scenes for time pass, but I am actually doing a full-fledged film! How am I going to do that?’

How was the first day on the sets?

My first shot was the biggest scene in the film! I guess the director had planned it purposely.

I play a musician in the film. There were 100 extras and around 50 crew members. I was put up on the stage with a guitar in my hand and had to perform like I am an expert at doing that!

I am a shy person, I am not an extrovert, I am not a very out there kind of person.

I got on the stage and looked around and there were 200 eyes on me and I was like, ‘I won’t be able to do it’. I was really scared and nervous.

After three or four takes, I thought that if I didn’t do it now, it wouldn’t be happening. I told myself that I have to pretend that I am in my room, performing in front of my mirror and forget everything else and especially the fact that there are people looking at me.

From there on, I sort of lost that fear of people looking at me.



Image: Ayesha Khanna and Harman Baweja in Dhiskiyaaon

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'I never thought of becoming an actor'

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Was it easy to leave behind the stylist in you and face the camera?

It wasn't a natural transition because I never thought of becoming an actor.

I couldn’t even enroll in an acting school because I came on board with just a month left for the shoot.

So I trained with my director since he knew each character and the story really well.

Were you able to shut down the stylist part of you when you were acting?

(Laughs) Not really. Since I had already done all the ground work, the sourcing, and had my assistants in place, we decided that I would continue to style for the five supporting characters, and someone else would take over for Harman and me.

Juggling between styling and acting wasn’t really difficult as the shooting was spread properly.

One particular day was really funny -- everyone was shooting for a song, which I wasn’t a part of but I was called in the same day to shoot a little montage for the song in the same space.

I was getting ready, doing my hair and make-up and at the same time, running around other actors, fixing their costumes. The background dancers were looking at me and wondering why the actress of the film was running around and adjusting the costumes (laughs). 

Image: Ayesha Khanna and Harman Baweja in Dhiskiyaaon

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'Shilpa gave me gave me tips for my look, my hair, my make-up, clothes'

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When it comes to acting, Sunny Deol and Harman Baweja are very different from each other. What was it like working with them?

I don’t have any scenes with Sunny. I was introduced to him on the set one day and it was nice meeting him.

It was very easy and nice to work with Harman. As his costume designer, I had met him often. So it was not like we had to get to know each other.

He always made me feel very comfortable. He was very patient with me. Whenever I struggled with a scene and it would take some more takes, he never got flustered. That helped build my self-confidence and I would perform better. It was really nice of him.

How did Shilpa Shetty help you in the film?

She guided me a lot. She didn’t come on set much as her son Viaan was very small. But having her was amazing for me because she looked after all those things which my director couldn't.

She gave me tips for my look, my hair, my make-up, clothes... everything possible. Having her was a blessing for me.

She is such a sweet person and made me feel so comfortable. I could call her up any time if I had an issue with anything.

Does it bother you that in spite of making your debut in the film, you aren’t in the limelight as much as Shilpa and Harman?

No, not at all. It may sound funny but every second day I google my name and find some new story or pictures of mine and feel excited (laughs).

I am happy that people are writing about me and clicking my pictures. A lot of people questioned my character in the film, not getting the best role in a gangster film, but to tell you the truth, if I had to do more than what I have done in this film, I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.

Image: Shamita and Shilpa Shetty with Ayesha Khanna
Photographs: Shilpa Shetty/Twitter

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'If I don't get the kind of work that I want to do, I will continue to be a stylist'

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There were reports that Shilpa Shetty had to convince your parents to allow you to do intimate scenes.

My parents were shocked when they came to know that I was going to be acting in the film.

They asked whether I was ready to do this and my answer was no because that was the truth; I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off.

They needed someone to assure them that their daughter was in safe hands. They were not comfortable about my being intimate and doing a kissing scene.

Thankfully, Shilpa stepped in and convinced my parents to let me shoot for the scenes. Once they got the reassurance, they didn’t have any issues.

Will styling take a backseat now that you are an actor?

I am hoping that I get busy with acting. But if I don’t get the kind of work that I want to do, I will continue to be a stylist.

If I continue as an actor, I won’t be styling. I hope to continue as an actor as after doing this film I feel I can do it. I want to say that I am the best actress in the world and would love to work toward that.

Image: Ayesha Khanna and Harman Baweja in Dhiskiyaaon

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'I would love to style Deepika Padukone'

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You were a stylist and become an actor. Parineeti Chopra worked at Yash Raj Films marketing and became an actress. Recently, singer Monali Thakur debuted as an actor in Lakshmi. Bhumi Pednekar, who also worked in Yash Raj Films, has been cast in a film. Do you think this is a new trend of launching people who have worked in-house?

I don’t know. Maybe people are more open to spotting talent around them.

I had styled Parineeti for Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl so I know her from that time. I think she wanted to become an actress and was just doing marketing till then.

Bhumi, being the casting director, would make a good actress because the casting person knows how to get a performance out.

I don’t know what the makers of the film saw in me. I never wanted to become an actress. But if a good opportunity comes my way, I might as well make good use of it.

Styling is something I have a degree in; I know I am good at it. I can do that for the rest of my life. I don’t need to be young and pretty for that. But if I don’t do acting now, a few years down the line I won’t be able to do it.

I want to get better at it and be able to do good work.

Any actress that you’d like to style for?

I would love to style Deepika Padukone. Her style quotient is top notch. She is always well dressed and looks fabulous in whatever she wears.

It would be a privilege and a dream to style her.

Image: Ayesha Khanna and Harman Baweja in Dhiskiyaaon

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