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Meet SRK's sexy new heroine

Last updated on: May 18, 2011 17:44 IST

Meet SRK's sexy new heroine

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

Zoa Morani is the newest kid on the block. Daughter of Cineyug Films Director Karim Morani, who is incidentally one of the accused in the 2G spectrum scam, Zoa makes her acting debut with Always Kabhi Kabhi.

The newbie couldn't have asked for a better launch pad as the film is produced by Shah Rukh Khan and is generating a lot of interest ahead of its release.

Zoa speaks to Sonil Dedhia about her first movie, her stint as an assistant director and being associated with Shah Rukh Khan.

Your film is approaching its release date in June. How are you feeling now?

(Smiles) I can't believe it's finally happening since I've always dreamt of becoming an actress. I wanted to be one ever since I can remember.

The promos are out and reactions have started coming in, and so I'm a bit scared. Hopefully, everything will come out well.

How do you think you've fared?

I can't compare myself with anyone. On a personal level, I think I've done a reasonably good job. I was a little nervous when we started shooting as I was facing the camera for the first time. At one point of time, I even questioned my decision of getting into acting. Gradually, I started learning.

As I got through the film, I surprised myself and realised I could get better if I tried. As an actor it's just my first film so there is still a long way to go.


Image: Zoa Morani

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'My experience as an assistant director came in handy while acting'

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You've worked on Halla Bol and Om Shanti Om as an assistant director. How different are things as an actor?

I assisted on Halla Bol for just a 20 day schedule and then I did Om Shanti Om. As an actor, I don't think there's much of a difference. I saw how Farah Khan would help Deepika Padukone, who was making her debut in the movie.

(Director) Roshan Abbas was more chilled out with us because the whole setup is different. Always Kabhi Kabhi is a high school film with a very casual attitude. At the same time, Roshan was very professional and would make sure he would get the best out of all of us.

Did you have a plan in mind, to assist first and then get into acting?

I definitely wanted to have some kind of experience as most of the actors or actresses these days have some kind of experience in theatre or television or even working as assistants to directors. I had never acted before and it wasn't that I didn't want to but it never happened.

My father came up with the idea and told me to become an assistant director and that's how I decided to assist.

How much do you think assisting a director helped you as an actor?

When you are on the sets for the first time, you get mesmerised because it is so huge with so many people looking at you and you are ready to face the camera. A lot of times you even get lost.

Working as an assistant director helped me so much because on the first day of Always Kabhi Kabhi, I was not lost. It laid the ground rules and brought out the best in me.


Image: Zoa Morani

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'Youth-centric films are hot right now'

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Did you take any formal training in acting?

I attended Barry John's acting workshop for three months and then I also joined Anupam Kher's Actor Prepares. It helped me a lot because when I decided to get into the movies, I became very conscious because I was an introvert. Formal training helps you open up and teaches a lot of things.

In case acting hadn't happened, did you have plan B?

 A lot of people told me to have a backup plan and every day I would sit and wonder what it could be. But I couldn't think of anything but acting. 

How would you describe Always Kabhi Kabhi?

Youth-centric themes are hot now and Always Kabhi Kabhi is one such film. It's a high school movie where you will see all of us wearing uniforms. The movie is a journey that traces the pressure yougsters are under to prove themselves. The movie also deals with a lot of firsts, like one experiences attraction for the first time, parental pressure for the first time etc. To top it, all almost all of us were doing a movie for the first time (laughs).

Image: Zoa Morani

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'Roshan Abbas taught me to believe in myself'

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How would you describe your character in the film, is it a lot like you?

My character Nandini is exactly as I was in school. I was an extremely rebellious girl like Nandini. I am the first child of my parents so there were a lot of restrictions on me and because of those restrictions I always tried to break the rules. Of course, you grow up with time and I have calmed down a lot (smiles). 

Can you share some of your high school memories?

I remember when I was in my fourth standard, I was fascinated with dirty jokes just like any other kid. Like a retard, I wrote down that joke in book and was showing it to my friends when my teacher caught me.

She was scandalised, as you don't except such things from kids. I was taken to the principal but was spared punishment somehow.

How was Roshan Abbas to work with?

It's amazing to see how Roshan puts his faith in you. In spite of this being my first film, he put in so much confidence in me. Whenever I needed something, I would go to him and he was very approachable. All four of us are new to films and he would always tell us to improvise and would welcome suggestions. To put in simple words, Roshan taught me to believe in myself.

Image: Zoa Morani

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'I'm not obsesed with size zero'

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Are you obsessed with size zero?  I had read you were following Kareena Kapoor in her fitness regime.

I love Kareena. It just happened by coincidence that my trainer knew her nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar and that's how I got introduced to her. I'm not obsessed with size zero but it always helps to be in perfect shape.

A lot of people are making their debuts. How are you going to keep up with the competition?

I haven't really planned anything as I feel nothing ever goes according to plan. I have to concentrate on my work. I would also take it in a positive way that directors today want to work with newcomers and that people are ready to accept fresh talent.  There is a place for everyone in the industry.

Do you think being a kid of a powerful person in the industry is like a double-edged sword?

It wasn't easy to get a role in the movie. A lot of people think that my father must have made a phone call and I landed the role. I worked as an assistant director for two years, then went for acting classes and then auditioned for roles that I did not get. So I went through the whole process. 

On the other hand, I would agree that it gets easier to approach people because my father knows a lot of people. But after that, it is up to me. I went through quite a lot of rejections before I got Always Kabhi Kabhi.

Image: Zoa Morani
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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'SRK told us to just have fun while shooting'

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Did your father give you any words of wisdom?

He never sat me down and told me to follow anything in particular. Growing up around him, he has always been subconsciously telling me things which have stayed with me. My parents have been very supportive and have always been there to guide me.
 
Your family is close to Shah Rukh Khan. Did he give you acting tips?

I had worked with him on Om Shanti Om and he would help Deepika with a lot of inputs. I would try and listen and take in as much as possible. When it came to Always Kabhi Kabhi, he had so many inputs to give us.

He told us to have fun when we were shooting so that the camera could capture the true emotions. He would give us small tips to help us improve as actors.

But did you go to him as an assistant hoping in the back of your mind that he would cast you?

No, not at all. I just got the opportunity to work on a film and I didn't want to miss on it. I never had any plans in mind.

Image: Zoa Morani

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'Commercial success is extremely important'

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What was the most rewarding part of working in this film?

Just like they say that what you learn in high school stays with you for life. In the same way, this was my first film and it will always remain close to me.  It has opened me up and taught me so much about myself. It has made me more confident and now I am sure what I want to do in my life.

How important is commercial success for you?

It's extremely important for me. All of us have worked hard and given it our best. At the end of the day, who doesn't want appreciation? Anyone would want their film to do well and we all are hoping to get a positive feedback.

You are starting your career with a big production house (Red Chillies). What does the future look like?

The future looks very bright. There are a couple of things that are in process so Inshallah it will work out.


Image: Zoa Morani

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