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'I'm Somebody You Don't Mess With'

May 08, 2024 12:35 IST
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'You treat me like eye candy and I will leave you like you're a wrapper.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

Alankrita Sahai joins the long list of beauty pageant contestants, who made their way to Bollywood.

She began her acting career with the Vicky Kaushal starrer Love Per Square Foot and subsequently appeared in films like Namaste England and Jabariya Jodi.

After a brief sabbatical, Alankrita gears up for the release of Tipppsy.

"If you do not learn the power of a 'No', how will you learn the excitement of a 'Yes'?", Alankrita tells Mayur Sanap/

What's the fun thing about shooting with an all female cast: Natasha Suri, Kainaat Arora, Nazia Hussain and Sonia Birje?

It's been a fun, adventurous ride.

Of course, shooting with five women is not easy.

It's like we were the Charlie's Angels of (Director) Deepak Tijori.

It's quite eventful when all the women come together with our qualities and vulnerabilities and get together to make a film.

IMAGE: Alankrita Sahai with Deepak Tijori and the female cast of Tipppsy. Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

There are five girls in this film. Did you fear getting lost in the crowd?

I don't fear being lost in a crowd of hundred women because I know I stand out.

I love myself and make other women stand out with me.

I would never diss another woman until she's harrowed me or hated the idea of women being successful together. Then, of course, that woman is not my friend.

I make other people shine with me and don't take away anybody's thunder.

Also, in this film, every girl is different. Our outfits, hair and makeup and everything is different.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

You were a beauty pageant holder before you stepped into showbiz. Was acting always on the cards?

I wanted to be an IFS (Indian Foreign Service) officer. I had no intent of being a beauty queen or actor.

I was preparing for something totally different when this happened in my life and God presented me with a new opportunity to represent India.

I won seven titles for India on the international platform.

It was a humbling experience to realise that I've come so far and there's much more that I have to do in life ahead.

IMAGE: Alankrita Sahai with her family. Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

Were your parents okay with your career decision?

They were shocked but very, very happy for me.

They know that I'm a level-headed kid and won't do something wrong.

I moved to Bombay in 2013.

I had a corporate job in New Delhi before the beauty pageant happened. Later, I started doing TV commercials and shoots.

But it came with a lot of baggage because extended family members try to pull you down. I've faced a lot of backlash in terms of the drama created by the maternal side of my family.

Sometimes, your worst enemies are in your family -- not your parents but your aunties and uncles.

My parents stood their ground for me.

Did you have to fight preconceived notions about your modelling background?

Everybody thinks that when you're a model, it's very hard for you to act.

There's a stereotype that we're stiff or can't represent ourselves in different characters with depth and substance.

In modeling, you use your eyes for every emotion, whether on the stage or in front of a still camera. In acting, you get to play with your entire face and body.

For me, it was a gradual process from modelling to Miss India, then to TV commercials, films and music videos.

I feel like I am here to break the stereotypes.

I'm here to change those norms and shackles that they have about women.

We have great examples of Priyanka ma'am (Chopra), Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai, who have made a name for themselves.

They have paved the path for women like us to have dreams.

IMAGE: Alankrita Sahai with Vicky Kaushal and Director Anand Tiwari on the sets of Love Per Square Foot. Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

You made your film debut with Love Per Square Foot. Were you disappointed that the film's success did not translate into more opportunities?

Well, the film's success did translate into another film called Namaste England with Arjun Kapoor. Unfortunately, that film didn't do that well but it got me a lot of attention.

Another film of mine Dead Girls Don't Talk is set to release. Our director succumbed to cardiac arrest after the film was complete. That was a setback for the production company and the team because the director's vision got stalled.

I lost my dad to cardiac arrest too, and so I took a sabbatical.

I didn't want to work.

I didn't want to do anything.

These two, three years were tumultuous for me.

I lived with my father throughout my Miss India journey. After he passed away in Shimla, I just couldn't come back to Mumbai. It was very hard for me.

In 2022, I finally came back to Mumbai and started hustling.

I started working in the Punjab industry. That was a healing process for me because I was constantly working.

People expect you to have this journey after doing big films but everybody has their own journey and kismet. All I can do is be patient and work hard.

I am very comfortable in my skin if for two or three years, I did not work.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

People often say 'out of sight is out of mind' in this business. How challenging was it to make your comeback in the industry?

I did a Web series with JioCinema and after that, people started calling me.

I am not great at reaching out to people, except casting directors who I've worked with.

I cannot go to parties.

I've not very social with people from the industry.

I'm not a person who markets herself the way I should.

You once said that a producer behaved inappropriately which led you to quit the film. As young actor who is still finding her own path in this industry, what are the non-negotiables for you?

I left the film before the film started. He was a fairly new producer.

He was somebody who probably got some money and wanted to become a producer.

He thought the women can be taken for granted in this industry.

But little did he know that I'm a badass. I'm somebody you don't mess with.

For me, an opportunity lost but respect gained and dignity kept intact is more powerful than losing my moral grounds.

You treat me like eye candy and I will leave you like you're a wrapper.

The fact is that good looking women will be hit on.

You will have men chasing you or have uncanny behaviour with you but you have to draw those boundaries.

I have no patience for bullshit. I don't like disrespect for a man or a woman in any sort.

Does this attitude come with a price? Because when you are a woman with strong principles, people label you as 'difficult'.

Oh yeah. If we say anything, we're labelled.

'She is difficult.'

'She has attitude.'

'She is spoiled.'

Women are labelled regardless.

If we wear a bikini, we are slut-shamed.

If a woman who's voluptuous and chubby, she's shamed for being fat.

I'd rather be difficult than easy, you know? A right amount of healthy ego is good for your respect, so bring it on.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

How do you keep yourself motivated in the face of rejection?

I just keep going.

I have this attitude of never giving up.

Rejection is what? That I probably don't look good for you?

I don't fit the bill for you?

I don't look the character?

I didn't act well?

All these things give me an opportunity for growth.

Earlier, I used to get hurt because you're young and don't know how to deal with rejection.

But if you do not learn the power of a 'No', how will you learn the excitement of a 'Yes'?

IMAGE: Alankrita Sahai with Ganesh Acharya, Arjun Kapoor and Badshah. Photograph: Kind courtesy Alankrita Sahai/Instagram

How expensive is it to be an actor?

Oh, damn expensive, honey! (Laughs)

Mumbai is an expensive city, just the rent is so expensive.

But it is a place for all.

I always say that Mumbai is a place that embraces you if you're meant to stay here.

Being an actor is expensive because you have to take care of your nutrition, health, well-being, diet, mental health, your physicality, clothes...

To look your best is not easy.

Especially in today's age, with the fast pace of Instagram and the kind of judgments we have...

The most important thing to maintain is your mental capacity so that you can get through life.

You have to have a great set of friends who you can fall back on. I've been very fortunate with the kind of people I have in my life.

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