FROM THE CRICKET PITCH TO A FILM STUDIO, SAIYAMI KHER IS FOLLOWING HER OWN DREAMS, WRITES SUMAN SHARMA
Her porcelain beauty is a dead giveaway of her future prospects as a movie star. She looks like the contemporary matinee idol – tall, striking and ever so enchanting. The kind of girl you’d imagine on a big poster in a teen’s room. She’s got the appeal and now she also has a mega launch pad with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in the director’s chair and Anil Kapoor’s son, Sonam Kapoor’s younger brother Harshvardhan Kapoor as her co-star. It’s a dream debut for a dream girl. Saiyami Kher’s raw sensuality can blow your mind and her candid words can capture your attention too. She’s well-versed with grace and agility because she used to be a competitive badminton and cricket player. So there’s a reason why she looks flawless on top of a horse in the Mirzya trailer. This girl was moulded for showbiz. After all, her parents were models and her grandmother, Usha Kiran was a top actress in the ’50s. Tailormade for stardom, Saiyami Kher has the reins in her hands…
How did you prepare to play Sahiban for Mirzya?,/strong>
Mirzya has been a life-changing experience. Mirzya happened after a tedious process and several auditions. Rakeysh sir (Mehra) sent me to Delhi to train for three months with actors Dilip Shankar from NSD and Adil Hussain. We also learned horse riding. Both Harshvardhan (Kapoor) and I are playing characters that inhabit two different worlds – the past and the present. So we had to look physically different to belong to those eras. For a girl, it’s something that requires much effort. While boys can bulk up easily. For costume and styling, Sir got the best team. Bharti mam, (Rakeysh Mehra’s wife) sat through the styling and make-up. Harsh and I did a lot of workshops. Rakeysh sir did readings with us too. The film is Rakeysh sir’s version of the eternal love story with beautiful and unforgettable music.
“Love is the most complex emotion in the world. And because it can be so beautiful, it can also be ugly… When I heard about the Orlando shooting in America, I felt there’s no love left in the world”
What challenges did you face while shooting?
The weather conditions were harsh. We shot in three degrees temperature in Rajasthan. They kept pouring cold water on me because it was a rain sequence. When we shot in Ladakh, I had to be up at 2:30 am because my hair and makeup took two and a half hours. And we had to start shooting before sunrise. I also fell off the horse while riding a couple of times. But the scars seem irrelevant after having so much fun.
Tell us something about your vibe with Harshvardhan Kapoor?
Harsh was learning horse riding in Delhi, while I was learning acting there. So we spent a lot of time together. We have been together for two years in this film. We’ve become the best of friends. Again sports is something dear to us, be it cricket or tennis. His sense of cinema and understanding of the industry is vast. Whereas I’m the desi type. He’s a knowledge bank. He knows the facts, the figures, and the business so well. As a person, he believes in doing what he believes is right. He has a strong sense of conviction. I like that.
You grew up in Nashik. Tell us about your early years…
My mother Uttara Mhatre was Miss India in 1983. My father Adwait Kher was a model. They moved to Nashik as they wanted my older sister Sanskruti and me to be away from glamour world (the late Usha Kiran was her paternal grandmother and Tanvi Azmi is her paternal aunt). We hadn’t watched a film in a theatre till we were in our teens. We have three restaurants in Nashik – Aangan, Tandoor and the Bombay Talkies. Sanskruti was into modeling and theatre. But now she’s gone to Dharamshala and is in the tourism industry. I did my schooling from Nashik and attended St Xavier’s College in Mumbai. My life changed once I came here.
Did you always want to be an actress?
No, sports was my focus. I’ve played badminton and cricket for Maharashtra. I started modeling in college. I was also a part of the Kingfisher calendar in 2012. I enjoy theatre. I have done one Telugu movie, Rey directed by YVS Chowdary. All this helped me explore myself. Acting is so beautiful because even if you’re an introvert, it gives you the chance to play so many characters, live so many lives. You learn so many things about yourself. What attracted me about acting was that I was also getting paid to learn about myself.
You seem to share a close bond with your paternal aunt Tanvi Azmi…
I call her Tanvi Atya (father’s sister). I am very very close to her. We have been like her children. She’s an emotional and dramatic person. When I signed Mirzya she began crying… khushi he aansoo and all the filmi drama happened. When she watched the teaser, she began crying again. Crying is a permanent feature with her. She can never hide her emotions. At the same time, she’s also critical of me and cannot be politically correct. She doesn’t care. She’ll just say the way it is. When she saw some photos of mine she said, ‘Your smile is bad in this one, this is bad, that is bad’. I said year say something good one. But you need such people who will give you true feedback. My parents are the same. It takes longer for them to say something good.
Are you prepared for the highs and lows that come with stardom?
I’m prepared to work hard. I can give my 100 per cent. Whatever happens is not in my hands. And if I have fun then like I’ve had on Mirzya then I can’t ask for anything better. Maybe, I’ll get butterflies in my stomach on the eve of the film’s release. But nothing as such now.
“Acting is so beautiful because even if you’re an introvert, it gives you the chance to play so many characters, live so many lives. You learn so many things about yourself”
How would you describe yourself?
I’m an introvert. I like to sit back and observe people. With friends and family, I’m a joker, someone who doesn’t stop talking. I’m also adventurous. Sky diving, deep sea diving… I’ve done it all. I want to buy a bullet bike for myself for now.
How do you view love?
Love is the most complex emotion in the world. And because it can be so beautiful, it can also be ugly. But it’s something, we cannot live without. When I read about the Orlando shooting in America I felt there’s no love left in the world. I’m an emotional person. But yes, I don’t believe in love at first sight. It’s a gradual thing.