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'The universe gave me a sign when I asked for one'

By RONJITA KULKARNI
June 01, 2021 13:39 IST
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'I wanted to know whether I should stay in Paris or do something else, and in less than a week, I got the call for The Last Hour.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Shahana Goswami/Instagram

Shahana Goswami has never had the opportunity to play who she is as a person.

But then again, there is so much to this actress than what one sees in her screen performances.

After starring in films like Honeymoon Travels Private Ltd, Rock On and Ra.One, Shahana decided to take a gamble and 'experience a different reality'.

So she left India in 2015 and settled down in Paris with her Italian boyfriend.

But the Paris stint didn't last too long, and she tells Ronjita KulkarniRediff.com, "I think I had a short phase (of insecurity) in Paris in the last one-and-a-half years where I was not getting enough work and the kind of work that I wanted to do. hat was the only time I was confused and frustrated because how do you decide that it's time to let go and move on?"

What did you do in Paris?

The first four months, I was in a language school, studying French.

While doing that, I did a short film in French.

Soon after that, a Bangladeshi film of mine was screening at festivals in France and Europe. So I was travelling with that.

I would be invited to various festivals where there were showing Indian content or a couple of my films or they would have me as a guest or on the jury.

I did a few films too like Gali Guleiyan, Tu Hai Mera Sunday, Rock On 2...

Toward the end, I had written a short film that I was going to direct.

Then these Web shows happened.

I was on a resident visa in Paris and on that visa, you have to live in the city for at least six months in a year. But with the work that I was doing -- the Web shows -- I would be out of Paris for at least 10 months.

So it didn't make sense to keep Paris as my base. So I moved back to India in July 2019.

 

IMAGE: Shahana captions this picture: 'The beautiful Arves river on the last few days of summer like heat. A walk along this beauty before I headed back home to Paris.' Photograph: Kind courtesy Shahana Goswami/Instagram

Would you agree that your second innings in India was better than the first?

You're talking about the success, and yes, it's better.

But to me, the process is still the same.

I've had extremely exciting collaborations in my early career that I think are rare for a newcomer. I worked with people like Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Kay Kay Menon, Sudhir Mishra, Nandita Das, Nawazuddin Siddiqui...

I didn't have a journey where I did crappy work in the beginning.

But yes, that outwardly success and appreciation that I'm getting now makes it seem like my first innings was weaker than the second.

How did the lockdown affect you?

I had just finished a year-and-a-half of constantly working and doing a lot of good work, so I was emotionally and psychologically fulfilled.

I was grateful enough to have money to take care of myself.

So it came at a time when it was a much needed break for me.

The only thing that I couldn't do was travel, which is what I would have done.

On a personal level, the lockdown was wonderful because I did everything that I wanted to.

Of course, there were times when you do end up feeling the anxiety that is around you.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Shahana Goswami/Instagram

Does this phase make you insecure as an actor?

We all have insecurities in life, but luckily for me, my insecurities are not around work.

I think I had a short phase (of insecurity) in Paris in the last one-and-a-half years where I was not getting enough work and the kind of work that I wanted to do.

I was busy saying no.

But what happens is when you say no to things, there is a wider (scope of) things to come. But that takes time.

That was the only time I was confused and frustrated because how do you decide that it is time to let go and move on? That maybe I'm not going to get the kind of work I wanted, so I should look at something else.

The universe did give me a sign when I asked for one.

I wanted to know whether I should continue down that path or do something else, and in less than a week, I got the call for The Last Hour.

I auditioned from Paris.

IMAGE: Shahana in The Last Hour.

So were you in Paris when you got the calls for A Suitable Boy and Bombay Begums as well?

For A Suitable Boy, yes.

Initially, when the project had started, I gave my audition from Paris. Then it went on pause for a bit.

When I was shooting for The Last Hour in Sikkim, A Suitable Boy picked up again, so I sent my audition again.

I sent the final audition when we were shooting for the last segment in Bombay.

During Bombay Begums, I remember I was visiting Delhi for my step-sister's wedding. The day I arrived, I locked myself in a room and did the audition and then continued with the wedding festivities.

Have you ever longed to go back to Paris?

You know, I've never been that person. I never long for something.

I am wherever I am.

I don't miss things or people.

I stay connected to people.

I have had long distance boyfriends from the time of STD phone calls.

I have always kept in touch with people.

When I moved to Bombay, my best friends were in Delhi. I'm used to long-distance relationships with people and family.

I don't miss places because I'm busy engaging in the place where I am.

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RONJITA KULKARNI / Rediff.com
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