‘No child’s play’

Salony Luthra’s ‘Kajal’ will be screened at the New York Indian Film Festival

She might not be in the right place right now but Salony Luthra is doing the right thing. The theatre actor is following her guru N.K. Sharma’s advice: “Mumbai is distracting, keep working on your craft.” A couple of years back Salony made headlines, when she debuted with the Tamil thriller Sarabham. Her performance in a double role of a drug addict and a normal girl was praised. “It was an author-backed role and as the film was shot in sync sound, I had to learn the language. I attended workshops, where the coach translated the script for me and I wrote all the dialogues in Devanagari script. I was cast because in the auditions I got the body language of the character right. As a theatre actor, I believe one should be able to perform in any language,” says the Shimla girl who came to Delhi for the passion of theatre and lived in a hostel while honing her craft under Sharma at Act One.

Well, her next release is Forbidden, an American film where she is playing an American medical student of Indian origin. “It is about a girl who goes by her heart and pays a heavy price for it. It is based on a true story and when I read it, it shocked me. Here again, I auditioned. This time via Skype when I was in Budapest for an international project. Once again, the makers felt that my body language suited the character but were not convinced by my accent. They offered me the role on the condition that I had to develop an accent in a stipulated time.”

In between, Salony completed Pakhi Tyrewala’s short film, Kajal which will be premiered at the upcoming New York Indian Film Festival in May. “ Kajal is the story of a normal middle class working woman . It is about finding your inner strength. We often start compromising and accommodating to make the men in our lives happy. It could be father, husband or your boss. In the process of making everybody around us comfortable, our aspirations start dying slowly.” For a change, this time Salony could identify with the character. “Somewhere, I am also like that. I keep giving in.” Many believe putting oneself first will lead to an individualistic society. “No. I agree everybody has to compromise for a better harmony in life but when you get dominated and your dreams and aspirations take a back seat so that somebody else’s could prosper, it is not right.” Salony had to put on weight to play Kajal. “After long working hours and then cooking for everybody at home, she has no time to to think about the right diet for herself. Mentally exhausted, she has no interest left in life.”

Value of short films

Short films, says Salony, are a good medium for filmmakers who want to pass on a message. She cites the example of Tamil short film Oliyum Oliyum , where she played a visually challenged girl. “You can handle a cause in this format better. Lot of filmmakers are making shorts because they want to give out a message which doesn’t hold much value in three hours.”The performances in shorter format become crucial as Salony says there is no screen time to justify the character. “The connection has to be there from the first shot as even one or two frames could communicate a lot.” She agrees that short films are like showreels for young actors with talented directors and technicians. “It is a good medium for all of us to showcase our craft.” And hope that a big project comes your way. “Exactly, having worked in different languages, countries and formats, I am looking forward to express myself in my mother tongue. When I started, I had two options: accept whatever comes my way and learn on the job or take the non glamorous route and hone my craft. Theatre taught me the value of performance-oriented roles. I know acting is no child’s play. It’s like ek do teen aur ho gaya . My journey is difficult but I have packed enough for it.” Is there a stopover in Shimla? “Of course, performing at Gaiety is huge high. I performed No Time for Love there two years back and this year I will take another play and, hopefully, organise a short film festival towards the end of this year.”

‘Kajal’ is the story of a normal middle class working woman . It is about finding your inner strength.

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