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'Schools should introduce sex education'

May 15, 2009 13:22 IST

'Tere Sang is not similar to Juno'



Yet another star kid takes the Bollywood plunge.


Sheena Shahabadi, daughter of veteran actress Sadhana Singh and producer Rajkumar Shahabadi, will be seen opposite Ruslaan Mumtaaz [son of actress Anjana Mumtaaz] in Satish Kaushik's upcoming film Tere Sang. The bubbly 20-year actress, who hails from Mumbai, plays a pregnant teenager in the film.


Sheena chats with Padmini Prabhu about the film, and why it's not like Hollywood's Juno.


Did you always want to become an actress?


Yes, ever since I was five. I joined the Kreating Charakters acting school when I was 15. I also took acting lessons from teachers like Vidur, Samar Jai Singh and Roopesh Thapliyal. I've learnt dance from Shiamak Dawar's institute as well.


Were your parents okay with this?


Although my parents have been connected to the industry, my father was initally apprehensive about me taking up acting. My school principal noticed my talent and convinced my parents to let me take acting lessons.


Acting is not a cakewalk. I had to work hard. But with every passing day, my acting improves.

Image: Sheena Shahabadi


'Tere Sang is not similar to Juno'

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Did you get any offers before Tere Sang happened?

Yes. I was 16 when I was offered Shakalaka Boom Boom [starring Bobby Deol, Upen Patel, Kangana Ranaut and Celina Jaitley]. I was supposed to be cast opposite Bobby but was too young for the role.


How did Tere Sang happen?

Lyricist Sameer is our family friend and has also written the lyrics for Tere Sang. He knew Satishji was looking for a new face for his film and suggested that I approach him.


How did you groom yourself for this role?

I play Mahi, a 16-year-old school girl. There was no need to look glamourous. My body did not need much grooming except that I had to gain a few pounds. It's a realistic film so make-up was kept minimal.


We had workshops before the shoot to get a good understanding of the characters. I'm happy it happened, as it helped me act for long hours.


What is your take on teenage pregnancy?

Every morning I read at least two cases of rape or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) in the papers. I think schools should introduce sex education and enlighten the youngsters on topics like sex, early pregnancy and STDs. It's
necessary for parents to attend to their children and be open with them. At my home, we discuss everything openly. Children should be groomed well.


You have taken up a role that may become controversial. Why did you want to start your career with such a film?

My role is very challenging. It is a realistic film and I think it will get me noticed, rather than be detrimental to my career. In fact, I think if it were any other newcomer, she would be nervous and find it very difficult to perform. But I'm not nervous. I'm not saying I have done a perfect job. It's just that I'm quite confident about my acting.

Image: Sheena Shahabadi

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'I don't find acting tough'

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How was it working with Satish Kaushik?

I always wanted to work with big banners so it was like a dream come true for me.
Satishji is a great person; he made me feel very comfortable on the sets. He is very patient and helped me a great deal with my acting. If I didn't get a scene right, he would explain very politely. He's very down-to-earth. He'd crack jokes and make us laugh during the breaks.


What's the toughest part about acting?

I am my own critic. Though my acting is not perfect, my confidence helps me make it almost perfect. I don't find acting tough. My mother is always there to help me whenever I go wrong or find anything difficult.


What impact will your film have on today's generation? What kind of message are you giving your viewers through this film?

The youth is the target audience. But the film also aims at parents and their responsibilities. The movie portrays that both, parents and children can go wrong when it comes to responsibilities.


The message it gives is that parents, after giving their kids freedom and luxuries, should not be negligent of their kids. I want the audience to learn something from my film rather than just go watch it and get back to their lives. I hope it makes parents and youngsters realise that they ought to be careful.


How do you think the film will be received by our society?

Apart from any controversy, I think and hope the audience will learn from the film. It's an awareness-related movie and I feel our audience has started expecting more mature concepts from our industry. So I feel the movie will appeal to them.

Image: Sheena Shahabadi

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'Our dark circles gave a natural touch to the scenes'

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How was the shooting?

We worked depending on the lighting. There were days when we worked continuously for 24 hours. This made us look pale and somewhat emaciated, as we hardly slept.


Incidentally, during the scenes where Mahi realises that she's pregnant, Satish uncle wanted Ruslaan and me to look pale. So our dark circles gave a natural touch to the scenes!  


But that doesn't mean it was a stressful job. I had fun too. It was like a picnic but I did not want to break the link when we shot for those hours continuously.


Do you relate to your character?


Yes, except for the pregnancy part. Mahi is just like me -- fun-loving, chirpy and bubbly. She loves her life and loves to laugh. She bosses her friends around and get them to do little chores for her, just like me [smiles]. But preparing myself for the pregnancy part took time. My mother helped me with that.


Have you watched Juno? Do you think Tere Sang is similar?

I haven't watched Juno, but have heard about it. I don't think Tere Sang is similar to it. In Juno, the girl's parents do not abandon her after she gets pregnant. But in Tere Sang, they do. Also, our movie has a very desi touch to it. Unlike the West, these issues are looked at a different way in our society.


Even Kya Kehna was based on a similar concept.

Kya Kehna
was different because the girl [played by Preity Zinta] was well aware of her actions and the aftermath. But in my film, the girl is too young and immature and hence, not emotionally strong. So she gets carried away and does things that she probably would not have done if she were older. 


Your mother worked with Rajshri Productions a lot. Why didn't you debut with them?

They did not know I could act. It was only after this film that my mother and I approached them. They might cast me in one of their upcoming movies. But nothing is finalised yet.

Image: Sheena Shahabadi

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'I have no friends in the industry'

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How was it working with Ruslaan?

Ruslaan is a very good actor. It was great working with him. He did not make me feel like a newcomer. He was punctual and quite serious about his work.


Any offers lined up?

Yes, a couple of them. But it's restricted to talks. Nothing is finalised. I wish to do more good roles and get noticed.


How is Bollywood treating you? Have you made any friends?

No, not yet. I don't want to mix my personal and professional lives.

Image: Sheena Shahabadi

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