'Polish girls, who try to dance to Bollywood songs after having a little bit of wine, are quite funny to watch!'
Erika Kaar gets ready for her Bollywood debut, Shivaay.
Polish actress Erika Kaar enters a room at a hotel in suburban Mumbai with her boyfriend Maciej Bielski looking gorgeous in a green desi overcoat over a black singlet and jeggings.
She's hungry and discusses a list of food options with Bielski. She finally settles for fish 'n' chips and whiskey on the rocks!
Bielski makes sure she looks good for the interview and the video that followed, and she starts talking Shivaay.
From Ajay Devgn to butter chicken, Erikaa gets candid with Jahnavi Patel/ Rediff.com.
How much of Bollywood did you know before Shivaay?
Not enough for sure.
Bollywood is not adequately recognised in Europe, it should be a lot more.
Kajol is a very well known actress. I knew about Shah Rukh Khan.
I knew that Bollywood films are longer than European ones generally, and also very colourful. That's about it.
Bollywood is also known for its songs. Did you know any?
I knew a little bit about the songs but I didn't know what an important role they play in Indian cinematography and how great they are.
Now I am a fan of a few Bollywood songs.
The first song that my friends showed me -- even before I came to India for the first time -- was Bole Chudiyan (from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham). It's a fantastic song.
Then I watched Bajirao Mastani and loved Pinga and Deewani.
Shivaay songs are fantastic, of course.
Have you danced to any Bollywood numbers?
I saw my friends dance before I came to India.
Trust me, Polish girls, who try to dance to Bollywood songs after having a little bit of wine, are quite funny to watch! But I haven't danced.
How did you audition for the Shivaay role?
Luckily, the producers of Shivaay were travelling across Europe and conducting auditions in different cities looking for an actress.
They came to Warsaw, my hometown, and invited actresses. They gave us scenes to prepare in English and Hindi.
Of course, everyone was instructed to play in English as we don't have Hindi speakers in Warsaw.
I prepared most of it in English but thought I would try and say some lines in Hindi as well to make my chances better. We worked on the scenes, recorded different options and after two months, I heard I got the part.
How was it working with Ajay Devgn? We heard you teased him by calling him 'boss' which he didn't like.
(laughs) Well, who would?
It's a term of endearment. It's a joke that we make.
He is my co-star, my director and a very good friend now.
But yes, if one wants to tease him, I would say, 'Oh, really boss, how do we do these scenes?'
Working with him was a great experience. I was being respected, protected, listened to and led through my first film without a scratch. It was very positive.
Did you know of Ajay before the film?
No. I had to google him before I started working with him.
In the song, Darkhaast, we see a Holi sequence. Was it fun shooting for it?
You must have seen my face in that part, it's overwhelming happiness, I couldn't hide it.
Thank God that Holi sequence was funny and positive because I wouldn't be able to go into character and play something else, as I was so excited then.
I think it was one of my favourite shoot days in the entire Shivaay. It was so magical, especially because I never experienced Holi before.
How was your work experience?
It was enriching.
It showed me that filmmaking can be a very positive process that gives you new friends and teaches you things because very often people say that becoming successful in the film industry has a high price to it.
You have to stay focused and hardworking. You're going to be lonely. That's what I heard from my friends.
But it's been the opposite for me. I met many great people who are my friends now. Whenever I come to Mumbai, I meet all of them. I am never alone.
Are you a foodie?
I am a foodie that sometimes has to be on a diet for some scenes and then I am like a shadow of a person.
But that's one of the things I love very much about India. Thank you for naans and the butter chicken.
I love food! My favourite meal is pizza and ice cream. Now, my boyfriend and I have become addicted to butter chicken.
We try to eat it a little bit, less spicy. When I order chicken tikka, I have the green chutney. I am not afraid of it anymore!
I love the naans and the rotis; aloo paratha for breakfast.
Was it difficult to learn Hindi?
Very, very, very, bohot mushkil hai, bohot.
In the beginning, I wouldn't understand anything at all. The words were like sounds to me.
With time, I would listen to other people on the set. There were some crew members who didn't speak English, so I had to communicate with them somehow.
I did learn some things but there's still a lot of work to be done.
You've kept your makeup minimal and dress simple. Do you like to keep it that way?
It's great to be able to express yourself through your outfits.
I don't know if I am too lazy or haven't found my style but I keep it casual.Jeans and t-shirt, sweats, hoodie and pony-tail and no make up…
I try to conserve and preserve myself since on the set, as I have to wear really heavy makeup then. After work, I try to minimalise it.
Have you thought about a career in Bollywood?
I am a man with no plan.
I'd like people from the industry to see how I did in the film. After they've seen my acting, it would be best scenario for me to continue work in Bollywood.
I wouldn't like to be cocky and have plans before I have even seen the film.
Has India managed to surprise you?
I have been coming to India for two years now so I feel desi already. There have been many surprises -- the rickshaws, the traffic, the great smells, the trees. Even the colour of the air is different in my country.
The thing that I liked the most is the attitude of people. Indian people are chilled out, happy, content and open. My boyfriend recently flew in to join me and said, 'I came out of the airport and just smiled when I saw all the Indian people.'
Which Hindi film do you want to watch?
I would love to watch Sultan.
How excited is your family about your Indian movie release?
My family is very excited. They are freaking out about it and that makes me very happy. They can't wait to watch the film.
Polish journalists invited me to some Polish shows to talk about Shivaay; they are also excited.