'Kedarnath has given me that much needed experience right at the beginning.'
'My experience is not limited to only being in front of the camera.'
'It has also taught me how to sleep at night when you don't know if your film will release, and that's a great learning for a newcomer.'
Even before her debut film releases, Sara Ali Khan has already impressed us, many times over.
Her first important Friday comes up on December 7 when the young actress will be seen in her first feature film Kedarnath, opposite Sushant Singh Rajput.
Directed by Abhishek 'Gattu' Kapoor, the film is set against the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand.
Sara's second film is also lined up for a December release. Simmba will see her opposite Ranveer Singh in a Rohit Shetty movis.
Sara is as confident as they come. She tells Rediff.com contributor Ramesh S, "Nothing gives me the satisfaction that acting does."
According to your mother Amrita Singh, Dharmendra is among those who is primarily responsible for her successful movie career. Whom would you credit for your career?
I won't be able to answer this question with the same conviction as my mother.
All I can say now is that it is because of Abhishek Kapoor and Rohit Shetty that I am standing in front of you.
Kedarnath is my debut film, but I cannot say that Abhishek sir has shaped my career because that would not be fair to what Rohit sir had done for me.
Going by the Kedarnath promo, it seems you have done well.
Every day is a learning process for me.
I guess my parents are also doing the same even now because this is a profession where one keeps learning.
Being real in those moments is the best thing you can do at that point of time.
Between action and cut, the only thing that matters is what your character feels, and I am trying to portray that with sincerity.
It's also because I have a director who has an eye on you all the time, and a co-actor (Sushant Singh Rajput) who gives cues, advice and inputs.
I think that is the only reason I was able to do what you saw in the promo.
Tell us about your Simmba co-star Ranveer Singh.
He is just amazing and a bundle of energy.
It's a privilege to work with him in Simmba because he is the only person that I think have been a fan girl of.
I remember meeting him for the first time at a wedding and I requested to have a picture with him.
I even told him, 'Achaa photo nai aaya, please ek aur.' (Laughs).
Working with him in Simmba was an overwhelming scenario in my life.
Which director -- Abhishek Kapoor or Rohit Shetty -- were you more comfortable with?
Both have a different working vibe.
And it's not just about Abhishek sir and Rohit sir, it's about their whole unit.
I did not have any discomfort; I was treated with a lot of love and respect.
Is Kedarnath the kind of launch you have always dreamt of?
A film is not just what you go in a cinema hall and watch; it's far more than that.
As actors, we should know better than anybody else.
A film is somebody narrating to you, sitting in Film City (in Goregaon, north west Mumbai) and talking to journalists...
All these things are surreal for me.
Kedarnath has experienced ups and downs, including a demand for a ban from some politicians.
There was a conviction that we would be stronger than the difficulties we faced because we are good people and have tried to make a good film.
But even with that conviction, we are not invincible.
So, 20 percent of me is petrified!
Because of how much Kedarnath means to me, I couldn't sleep for days. I was calling Gattu sir (Abhishek Kapoor) every day and inquiring about the scenario.
My mother was also concerned and scared about the film at one point.
Thankfully, everything is settled now.
Kedarnath is set against the Uttarakhand floods. How was your experience shooting it?
We have watched quite a few documentaries on that 2013 disaster, but nobody will fully understand until one has experienced it.
After watching the destruction of buildings and lands, lives of people being claimed in just a fraction of a second in those documentaries, I felt so heartbroken.
Sometimes, it takes a visual input to truly realise what went wrong.
We also heard survival stories where people were crying and expressing their sadness.
One person said I could save only one child from my two at that moment. That's a horrible nightmare, where your son or daughter is dying in front of you and you are just helpless.
To understand the kind of tragedy people have gone through is unbearable. And to be given an opportunity to depict it to some degree in a film is quite something for me.
Does a film like this enrich you as an actor and human being?
It has definitely enriched me as a human being. Kedarnath has given me that much needed experience right at the beginning.
It has taught me a lot.
My experience is not limited to only being in front of the camera.
It has also taught me how to sleep at night when you don't know if your film will release, and that's a great learning for a newcomer.
If you have learnt that, it can be implied in your real life as well.
It teaches you how to focus and how to prioritise.
I used to think that on a film set, there is only an actor, actress, the director and the DOP (director of photography).
But I have understood how important the lightman's job is.
If I ask for one more take, it is time consuming for everyone on the sets.
That light man will need to shoot the light in the exact same way, that spot boy will need to give extra tea to the unit because it will take half an hour more...
Did you have to work on your diction for this film?
I didn't go to any diction (classes), but I worked with Sushant.
If my Hindi is okay, his is sarvottam!
He said at the very beginning that we would talk only in Hindi. So till date, I only speak in Hindi with Sushant.
When did you decide to become an actor?
I wanted to become an actor since I was four or five.
But I am very studious. I got my degree from Columbia University in New York and studied to become a lawyer.
But then I realised that nothing gives me the satisfaction that acting does.
That was when I knew I had to jump in this field because there's one thing as knowing and another thing as testing and eliminating other options.
So, four-year old Sara wanted to become an actor because she didn't know about the other things, but 20-year-old Sara studied a great deal of subjects in America and still, wanted to become an actor.
That's when you know for sure that this is what you really want to do.
Which films of your parents and grandmother Sharmila Tagore have influenced you to become an actor?
Daag (the 1973 film directed by Yash Chopra, starring Sharmila Tagore, Rajesh Khanna and Raakhee) is one of my favourite films.
Then, there's Chameli Ki Shaadi (Basu Chatterjee's 1986 film starring Sara's mum Amrita Singh and Anil Kapoor).
I have realised that comedy is very hard, and this realisation came on the sets of Simmba after spending a lot of time with Rohit sir and Ranveer.
So, the way my mom has done comedy in Chameli Ki Shaadi is just lovely.
But what she has done in her debut movie Betaab (directed by Rahul Rawail, the 1983 film marked Amrita Singh and Sunny Deol's movie debuts) is the next level performance.
Omkara (Vishal Bharadwaj's 2006 film featuring Sara's dad Saif Ali Khan as the scene-stealer Langda Tyagi) is definitely one of my favourite films. But because it's such a serious action-oriented role, it has been given more prominence than Hum Tum (Kunal Kohli's 2004 comedy starring Saif and Rani Mukherji) in which my father was equally good.
Do you take suggestions from your parents while choosing scripts?
Somewhere down the line, both of them are aware that I have a mind of my own, but their support is very important to me.
If I didn't have that support, I wouldn't have done Kedarnath.
What is your take on box office numbers?
I don't understand figures.
I know that Rs 100 crore is a big deal and so I hope we make the same in Kedarnath. We hope it becomes a hit and earns a lot of money during the weekend.
But there is no pressure on me because it's not in my hands.
Whatever was in my hands, I have done.
Which directors would you like to work with?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Imtiaz Ali to David Dhawan.
If someone gives me an opportunity, I will definitely do it.