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Juliet comes to Benaras

Priya Sharma
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Chat Amyra Dastur on debuting in Bollywood. Priya Sharma

Romantic debut:Amyra Dastur.Photo: AFP
Romantic debut:Amyra Dastur.Photo: AFP

A nother model is set to embrace Bollywood. Amyra Dastur, a common face in television commercials, is making her debut opposite Prateik Babbar in Issaq , an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet set in Benaras. “I really wanted to do a proper Indian character so that people take me seriously because I do have a slight problem with Hindi,” says Amyra. Excerpts from an interview:

How did you adapt to the earthy surroundings?

When it came to adapting to the role it was basically about understanding the mannerisms of a Benarasi girl. It required a little more openness. As for adjusting to the city, it was really hard for me because I am a Mumbai girl. I am born and brought up in Mumbai, so it was a very different experience. Benaras has its unique identity. It is very simple and it was very hard to understand the people because they have a different way of speaking.

How did you get the role?

I was actually auditioned for about a month before I was told I got the part. I went on the last day of my examinations and then I auditioned for a month. Every alternative day I would read out portions to director Manish Tiwary and then he gave me the script to read before I went for a family vacation. When I got back I was told that there will be other girls but it was only me. After that I had a 10-day intensive workshop just to see if my Hindi could improve and it did. Then Manish told me that I was selected.

Issaq revolves around two lovers who are born to hate each other as their families are arch rivals. The story has elements similar to Ishaqzaade and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak . How is the film different from other love stories and adaptations of Romeo & Juliet ?

A lot of plots in a lot of films are similar but it is not just about one part of the story. There have been a lot of movies where lovers are born to hate each other but Issaq has got it is own unique feel. It has been shot in Benaras, it has got the Naxalite angle and has got a lot of other elements that makes it stand out.

It is based on Romeo & Juliet but the characters are different. For example Bachchi Kashyap, the name of my character, is very different from Juliet. She is not head strong, she is innocent and it is not love at first sight. She needs to be wooed a little bit and in the case of Romeo, he isn’t your typical sweet boy. He is a ragger, he is raw and he is bit of a player. So characters are different.

Do you have any similarities with the character?

We are complete opposites. We do not follow the same principles of morality. She is a romantic, I am a cynic. She is an optimist, I am a pessimist. So she is quite the opposite of what I am.

How are you getting over the language barrier to fit into the role?

I am working on my Hindi. I am taking diction classes. I practise for six to seven hours every day. I started these classes long before the shooting started. I am really working on my Hindi because that is my main area of weakness.


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