A patient, persistent approach to acting

Athiya Shetty



HINDI cinema has a high success rate with wedding-related films and forthcoming comedy Motichoor Chaknachoor looks set to add to that list.

Rising star Athiya Shetty and acclaimed actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui play the lead roles in the romantic comedy about an attractive young lady who ties the knot with an awkward, shorter and older man in a bid to go abroad. This marks another step up for naturally gifted performer Athiya and she was feeling confident when Eastern Eye caught up with her to find out about her new film Motichoor Chaknachoor. The talented young actress also spoke about working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, comedy, inspirations and more.

You have taken things slow since your debut, has that been a conscious decision?
I don’t think you can pick and choose your journey in terms of speed or be conscious of how much or little you sign. Everybody’s journey is different and unexpected, and there is a timing in everyone’s life. So for me, I knew that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to challenge myself and was waiting for a film or script that would get me excited. Unfortunately, nothing like that came to me after Mubarakan, which was exciting enough for me to sign, so I had to wait. I think a part of this profession is being patient and what you do with your time. So I spent my time doing workshops and improving my skills to be a better actor and artist.

Is finding the creatively satisfying projects the biggest challenge?
Yes, I think that is a challenge because there are very few scripts that give you that satisfaction. That challenge to do something different, kind of reinvent yourself and mould yourself into characters, that is what is most exciting as an actor and why I was most excited to sign this film.

Tell us more…
It gave me the opportunity to do something I hadn’t done before – break out of my mould and work towards the character, whether it was the accent or the body language. Just being able to do workshops and get into the skin of the character was extremely satisfying. Even the entire process of shooting was just so satisfying because I felt I was learning at the same time. I think that is so exciting for an artist because when you learn, you can do more and become more confident. It just makes you feel good about yourself and about the days you are spending shooting.

What did you like in particular about Motichoor Chaknachoor?
What I liked about it was the script itself. I loved the characters, and the simplicity and honesty with which they were written. I liked the fact the characters were so real and relatable and that it was a family comedy (I loved that most about it). More than my role, I loved Pushpinder’s role played by Nawaz. I loved the contrast between the two characters and how it is a love story. I thought it was extremely different and quirky.

Tell us about your character?
My character’s name is Anita, but everyone calls her Annie. She is the spoilt one in the family. She is extremely kind, loving, but at the same time stubborn. Her ambition and goal in life is to travel and live abroad. I think that is why she does what she has to in order to make sure this dream of hers comes true. What I love about her character is how she grows as a person and individual, and how love changes her. I love how certain situations in her life kind of affect her growth as a character.

What was it like acting opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui?
It was an absolute honour to be in the same frame as Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He is a phenomenal actor, but also an understanding and giving actor. He is a great co-star to have because he is not intimidating on set even though he is such a great actor. You can always ask him questions and learn from him. He believes in rehearsing and getting into the skin of the character, which helped me at the end of the day to become a better actor and be a better artist. It is fun because he likes to improvise and that takes the scene somewhere else and creates that magic.

With a challenging project like Motichoor Chaknachoor, did you feel that you had to raise your game?
I definitely felt that I needed to up my game. There is so much competition and everyone is so talented. I think now with Netflix, Amazon and the digital space, there is so much work for everybody, so I feel you have to be on your A-game and on your toes constantly. This film gave me the opportunity to not only break out of my mould, but also gave me an insight into what it actually means to be an actor because I got to work with some great actors such as Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

What is your favourite moment in Motichoor Chaknachoor?
I can’t just pick one! The entire shooting schedule in Bhopal was such a special memory, and I would love to relive it. It was an experience that changed me as a person and made me more independent. It made me a better person, a better actor, and just more aware of my craft. I wanted to make myself do better when I was on set.

What is your favourite moment from working on this film?
It was with Nawaz sir when we were on set. After my first shot with him, he was just so sweet and said ‘I forgot that you were Athiya, you seem just like (my character) Annie, you seem like you are from Bhopal and are in your natural surroundings and habit’. So that was really motivating as an actor, especially coming from Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who is so phenomenal.


You must be happy with the response to the trailer?
Yes, I am happy, but I am not satisfied yet. I hope the love continues even after the film releases. It just gives me the motivation to work harder and do better. I have lots to achieve. I am nowhere close to doing that. It will require a lot of hard work and perseverance, but I think that is what this profession is about. It is just about being patient, obviously doing your best and working hard.

Many actors say comedy is the most difficult genre, how do you find it?
Yes, I do feel comedy is challenging. It is all about timing. It is all about being honest and true to your character. I believe that in comedy, less is more. It is about being honest to the situation and then it is automatically funny, and you don’t need to be loud or out there, or try to make the audience laugh. Comedy is something you have to be honest with, just like any other emotion such as anger or crying. Comedy is an emotion that requires honesty.

Today what inspires you?
What inspires me is working with good directors, scripts and characters. I feel that is what is most important. It can be a small or a big-budget film and in any genre. But if you are confident in your character and in the skin of the part you are playing, it doesn’t matter what the length of your role might be. It is about the conviction and honesty with which you play it. You must keep working, rediscovering yourself as an actor and learning. That makes it exciting to be an actor because you get to play so many different roles. To better my craft, to better yourself, to constantly keep changing and keeping up with everyone, that’s what inspires me.

Why should we watch your film Motichoor Chaknachoor?
I think you should watch Motichoor Chaknachoor because it is a film that will make you laugh, as well as cry. It is emotional and has beautiful characters that you will be able to relate to. You will not only like each character in the film but also relate to them. It is something that brought a smile and a tear to my eye when I heard and read the script. I hope it does the same to you guys.

Watch the trailer of Motichoor Chaknachoor here: