Bombay Showcase

'Junooniyat', love in paradise

Yami Gautam and Pulkit Samrat say adaptability helped them climb the rungs of Bollywood.  

It’s a dramatic beginning to the interview. Asked what fuels the choices of his roles, “ Junooniyat [passion] towards work,” says Pulkit Samrat, rather grandly.

He chortles at Yami Gautam’s longer response, but the two genially carry the discussion from the film to Gautam’s tag as ‘The Fair & Lovely girl’, and to Mumbai becoming their second home. Both actors debuted in Bollywood separately in 2012 with Vicky Donor and Bittoo Boss respectively, and star together for the second time, after Sanam Re .

“For me it’s the zeal to surpass what you’ve already done before,” says Gautam about her roles in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Punjabi films. “I try to see what new I can offer to myself and to the audience… even if it may be of a genre I’ve worked in before. Versatility is a great virtue.”

Junooniyat , a romantic film by director Vivek Agnihotri, releases this week almost back-to-back with his earlier project this year: the political satire, Buddha in a Traffic Jam .

The film’s lead actors say they signed the film for its plot. For Gautam, it provided a great platform to debut in Bollywood with a love story, considering the actors signed the film before Sanam Re . She loved her spunky character and was floored by the movie’s great music. On the other hand, Samrat got to portray an army officer and loved the chemistry between the protagonists. “I found the film’s conflict rather interesting with two really similar, selfless and strong-headed characters falling in love. Seeing a spark between them was contrary to the usual notion that opposites attract.” Being anchored in the relationships within a family, they were drawn to the fact that it was more than a straightforward love story with peppy numbers and a Holi song.

The discussion steers towards Kashmir. A sizeable chunk of the film has been shot there. The crew was hounded by locals for using Kashmiri girls in a song sequence in Sonmarg, but it didn’t stop the cast from enjoying the valley’s beauty. “It was my first visit to Kashmir, and it was truly paradise. The place is stunning, the people are warm, but then I wouldn’t want to repeat wearing a short skirt in minus six degrees at night!”

Samrat says, “She had more work in Kashmir than I did, so while she was shooting, I’d be off in another place eating their great food.”

What the two actors have in common is that acting was their second career choice: for Samrat it was advertising and for Gautam, law. “I think destiny played a role”, says Gautam. “I was also extremely serious about becoming an IAS officer then, but fate intervened and I’m here. Still enjoying what I do”.

For Samrat though, “[it] wasn’t all that drastic a shift since I wanted to be an actor [all my life]. I wanted to perform and entertain people. Whether it was theatre in school and college, or just dancing on the table in front of my entire family as a kid, it was always about entertaining people”.

Now, with their body of work steadily increasing as they find their footing in Bollywood, the two feel lucky that they have not been compartmentalised by the industry. Both feel that this is the stage in their career where they need to explore and experiment with the range of characters that they can essay. In Gautam’s case, social media has taken the liberty to tag her as ‘The Fair & Lovely girl’, to her amusement. “I take it in good spirit and really love some of those jokes.”

The two actors feel adaptability is what helped them climb the rungs of Bollywood. “And making yourself your own competition. There’s nothing tougher than that,” adds Samrat.

Wrapping up their interview, the lead pair reflect on settling in Mumbai at the start of their careers and share what it’s like to find themselves in a new city. “Both Mumbai and Chandigarh have a special place in my heart, because what one gave me, the other couldn’t”, says Gautam.

“Delhi is my janmabhoomi and Mumbai is my karmabhoomi, ” says Samrat. “Of course I love the Konkani food. But above all, this is a crazy place with a crazy air that makes you its own”.

The writer is an intern with The Hindu

Both feel that this

is the stage in their career where they need to explore

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 4:21:37 PM |

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