‘My journey has just begun’: Yami Gautam on completing 10 years in Hindi cinema

Yami Gautam

Yami Gautam | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While most of the world was robbed of its usual activity over the last two years due to the pandemic, Yami Gautam was in the midst of what she calls the busiest phase of her life. She had signed six films, was preparing for Behzad Khambata’s A Thursday, which she calls one of the most challenging films she has done, and, in between, got married as well.

“I think they were the best years of my life,” she says, “Personally, they were outstanding. Professionally — well, let us see how it pans out.” Yami is geared up for a busy year in 2022 as well, with at least four films slated for release. The year also marks the completion of a decade since her entry to Hindi cinema with the National Award-winning Vicky Donor. Excerpts: Yami talks about the changes she has observed within herself and the industry over the years, the kind of roles she pursues, and more.

It has been 10 years since you debuted in Hindi films with Vicky Donor. Has anything changed within you over this period?

I feel a lot of changes within yet I feel the same. I know it is a weird answer. If I have evolved as an actor, that is because I have evolved as a person. That goes hand in hand. [This evolution] comes only with experience. No matter how many advisors you have, it is your own experiences that teach you what works for you. You realise that you don’t have to take the route everyone has taken. You can be who you are.

Not a long time ago, people used to tell me you will only succeed if you attend so and so’s parties. If you don’t, then, you are not considered arrived and the kind of work you do doesn’t matter. That culture needs to be put to rest. It’s 2022 now. We talk about New Age cinema, New Age world. We need a New Age industry culture, where everyone can coexist.

How has cinema changed in the last 10 years? 

I am very lucky to have made my debut with a cult film like Vicky Donor. That year saw some really good films like Kahaani and Barfi. Now, with this whole burst of global content, which is easily accessible, playing safe has become the most unsafe thing. There is no formula to a film’s success. It is going to be a big challenge to entertain and engage people because now they have a high standard to compare us with. I just hope more and more good roles are written. 

Are better roles written for women now?

Five-six years ago, no matter how much I wanted to do certain roles, I couldn’t. Because you are shackled by your own fears or you are told that only certain kinds of films will work... But it is changing now. Whether you are a part of an out and out commercial film or a content-driven film, the role needs to be substantial. And, the audience isn’t biased towards a certain kind of role. When I did Bala, some people were like, ‘Oh, we never expected you to do comedy.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but that’s because no one offered me comedy.’ We didn’t write many substantial roles. But things are definitely getting better.

Has the kind of roles you look for changed over the years?

I am looking for characters that challenge me. I want to break my head over them and ask myself, ‘How do I do this?’, ‘How do I give people something they don’t expect out of me?’. But, when I am reading a script, it needs to excite me as an actor and as an audience. I wouldn’t do something that the audience will not connect with. I like a balance of both. Next, I would see how pivotal my role is in the film. And, it doesn’t matter if I am playing the lead, parallel lead, a cameo. You should not be able to define me, say, as a ‘girl-next-door’ or something like that. I want to be -- I hate to use this word because it’s overused -- versatile. From that perspective, my journey has just begun.

What made you sign up for A Thursday?

 I started reading the script as a thriller. But the way it ended, I was moved. That is when I decided that Naina’s [the protagonist] story should come out through me. I understand some people question the film’s logic. I get that. But when I see the big picture, when I feel that it is correct, then I don’t over-intellectualise things. Not everything can be liked by everyone. And, for a script like A Thursday, I wanted to know the intention of the maker, because I didn’t know him previously. So, I asked Behzad a lot of questions. ‘Are we trying to create a sensation? Are we just trying to another women-oriented film with a social message? What does it mean to you?’ I really wanted to understand these things. I have mostly worked with new directors. And, this is how I connect with them.

The film features a few senior actors, including Dimple Kapadia. How was it working with them? 

In the film, I’m interacting with them but I don’t really share a physical space with them. That was very challenging. Because when you are in a room with co-actors, you exchange words and energy. But when you are just on the phone, you don’t know how the other person is going to perform. A lot of things are left to the imagination. But I did get to work briefly with Dimple ma’am. Apart from the fact that she is breathtakingly gorgeous, she is a fantastic actor. I mean, she is someone who has worked with Christopher Nolan. But she never takes even a small thing for granted. And, she was very supportive.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 12:23:33 pm |