'Acting is probably the most wonderful profession anyone can have because you make every film set with 200 people, so you make 200 new friends every four months, and you learn so many things from these new lives.'
Saiyami Kher has been acting since 2015, but she really came into her own after delivering notable performances in OTT shows like Special Ops and Breathe: Into the Shadows.
Her latest show Faadu, created by critically-acclaimed film-maker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, has earned her good reviews.
Though Saiyami has seven years of experience, she has never bagged a role without having auditioned for it, she tells Rediff.com Contributor Mohnish Singh.
Faadu received a good response. What drew you to it?
Faadu is probably, you know, the first love story that long format in India has attempted because, so far, we have seen a lot of crime, murder and dark content.
This is a welcome change because it is poetic; it is a proper love story.
So for me, that was attractive because we have gotten so used to watching the same kind of dark content.
How did this role come to you?
All my roles come through the auditioning process. I have to go through a whole lot of auditions to get any role.
After Ashwiny ma'am liked what I had done, she sent me the screenplay, and I couldn't stop reading it.
With OTT shows, the screenplay is a very big part because there are so many episodes.
It was so well written that, for the first time, I had goosebumps while reading it.
My eyes welled up.
You have been simultaneously working in Telugu and Hindi films for several years now. You have also done a Marathi film. How do you balance everything?
I am trying to do it flawlessly.
Being on a film set is my happy space.
So whether it's a Marathi or a Telugu film, a short film or a full-length film, I love being in front of the camera and being on a film set.
Acting is probably the most wonderful profession anyone can have because you make every film set with 200 people, so you make 200 new friends every four months, and you learn so many things from these new lives.
It's something that I really truly love.
I just keep my fingers crossed and I hope that I continue to keep getting work because for the last year-and-a-half, I have been working nonstop with barely a 10-12 day break.
Now that I am not on a film set, I get so cranky at home.
Is working on a show more exhilarating and challenging than working on a film?
If it's not challenging, I don't find it exhilarating.
It's exhilarating only when there is a challenge, be it a film or a show or, you know, anything.
But for me, the plus point of long-format projects is that you end up spending a lot of time together.
We shoot for 70 to 75 days. So you become really close to your co-stars and directors. Everyone becomes like family.
I develop strong emotional attachments to every character I play and every film set I visit.
With almost every film, what happens is that once it is over, you can't revisit that character. The film is over, the character is done.
But if the show does well, there could be a second season.
So you feel like you can go back to a character that you like so much.
Manjiri is a character (in Faadu) that is very, very, close to my heart.
It feels nice to have that luxury of going back to a character.
Do you like to take on roles that are completely different from your personality or roles that are somewhat similar to who you are in real life?
The fun is when it is completely away from your personality, like Choked, which was so challenging because I didn't think I had that person in me.
But I feel that every character that you portray, you kind of draw from within somewhere.
You can draw inspiration from your life experiences, from what you've seen in others, and sometimes from your friends and their relationships.
So basically, I believe that as an actor, even when you are not working, you are constantly trying to absorb things from people because you can use them somewhere or the other.
The most enjoyable aspect of Manjiri's character was that it was very similar to mine; I learned more about myself through Manjiri.
Because Manjiri is from a small town and was brought up in very idealistic, moralistic, ways, she loves music and poetry, and she sees poetry in everything.
Then she comes to Xavier's (the famous college in south Mumbai) and falls in love with this guy.
So I related a lot to her because I am very much like that in life.
Your grandmother (Usha Kiran) was an actress, your mother (Uttara Mhatre Kher) was Miss India, your aunt (Tanvi Azmi) is an actress. How did that influence your dreams of becoming an actor?
I had no dreams of becoming an actor when I was young because my grandmother passed away when I was eight or nine years old.
I remember her very clearly, though. I did not know she was an actor at that point.
Much later, I saw her work, and really liked the stuff she had done.
My parents moved to Nashik to bring us up in a smaller town because they wanted to keep us away from the film and glamour world.
So my upbringing had nothing to do with films or, you know, the glamour world.
It was only when I attended college in Mumbai and started doing theatre that I really liked acting.
My parents were surprised, but they were also supportive because I was heavily into sports. Sports was my biggest passion.
They did not expect me to get into this field, but they did say, 'You should do what makes you happy.' Now they feel very proud of my journey.
What kind of roles do you want to take on? Do you wish to star in a biopic?
No, I think there have been too many biopics. I think we should take a break from making biopics.
I have done films in Telugu, Marathi and, of course, Hindi films. Now I'd like to work on a Malayalam film because they produce some really interesting content.
I would really like to do an out-and-out commercial film, where, you know, cars are blown up and actors dance in Switzerland. I have never done that.
There is a wish list of directors I would like to work with, from Zoya Akhtar to Vishal Bhardwaj to Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
I am putting it out, and hopefully, the universe conspires.
How was it working with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari?
I am going to be forever grateful to her.
She always has such strong female characters in her stories.
She was always on my wish list.
In many of my earlier interviews, I had said I wanted to work with her, and it happened.
I hope that happens with the other names that I have just mentioned (laughs).
But she is so collaborative. She will be like, 'Let's read it this way. What do you all think? Give me inputs.'
It's wonderful to work with someone who is so calm and easy to get along with.