Athiya Shetty on Motichoor Chaknachoor
Athiya Shetty tells us why she took on the role of a small-town girl dreaming big in her latest film and why working alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui was special
Nawazuddin Siddiqui's latest film Motichoor Chaknachoor has been in a spot of trouble of late, the most recent news being that the Bihar Court has stayed its release due to payment issues. However, when we spoke to lead actress Athiya Shetty over the phone yesterday, she seemed very excited for the film, which she admits took her way out of her comfort zone.
Athiya, who plays a small-town girl with big dreams of marrying an NRI in Motichoor Chaknachoor, reveals, "I was attracted to this role because it demanded a lot - in terms of the dialect, playing a small-town girl, just getting out of my comfort zone - something I don't feel I've done before. I was attracted to the challenge of trying to be able to pull this off, and of course the script - just the fact that it was such an honest, simple story and very authentic to the region."
Athiya, daughter of actor Suniel Shetty, who made her debut in the intense love story Hero back in 2015 and later starred in the romantic comedy Mubarakan, seems to have made a bold choice with her latest role in Motichoor Chaknachoor, which judging by its colourful trailer, is a fun-filled romp through courtship and marriage in a small town. Pulling off a small-town girl role when you're born and bred in a metropolitan city like Mumbai doesn't seem like an easy task, especially when you're working alongside a seasoned, critically acclaimed actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Athiya reportedly turned down the role when it was first offered to her because she was 'nervous' about working with Nawazuddin. So what was it like when they first met and started shooting?
"We didn't really have workshops together and I feel that was a good thing because when we came on set it was very organic; we started off where our characters meet for the first time on set, that was the first scene we both did together. I think that itself was so organic and natural. He's a brilliant actor - everybody knows that - but he's also a thorough professional. He's somebody who is very respectful to his co-actors; he never made me feel like I was a newcomer, and always gave me the respect of an artist. I think that gives you confidence and just makes you feel more secure as an actor, as a person. And then automatically it becomes enjoyable, to work on scenes - that give and take in comedy that's required, improvising; we would rehearse, we would talk about, okay, maybe my character should be this and his character would react like this, so it became a kind of workshop when I was shooting the film as well because it was all about creating. I think that was extremely special."
Unlearning and learning
She reveals the challenges of learning a new language, Bundelkhandi, for the film.
"It was difficult to grasp because it's not only about dialect but how you speak it. Your body language has to match your dialect. You have to be authentic and make it seem real. And I think that was the challenge - just kind of unlearning everything that I am as a person and adopting a new way, whether it's the way I sit, whether it's the way I'm chewing, whether it's the way I tie my hair. So I think that was an amazing process, of just unlearning and learning again.
"When it came to the dialect I think I worked a lot with my writer and director to kind of understand the language and then learn my lines. So if I understand the crux of the language and grasp the little nuances then it's easier for me to say my dialogues and deliver them with confidence and realistically."
The trailer has received a lot of love on social media but Athiya is waiting for the bigger verdict. "I'm obviously very very happy and excited (about the appreciation for the trailer) but it doesn't stop there. I feel like you need to receive the same amount of love when the film releases and that's something that we can never predict. But as an actor I feel you never sign a film because of an outcome, you sign it because your gut says so, or you want to be a certain character, break your own mold and try to do better as an actor."
Does having a celebrity parent influence her decision making as far as films are concerned?
"If you have a parent at home who has been in the industry for so long, you obviously seek advice. But I think the decision is ultimately always mine - I have to live through the experience, I have to give my time and effort and energy for a film and I think it's really important that I make decisions for myself. My parents have always encouraged me to be independent and make decisions for myself. You learn from your mistakes. We (my family) all make our own decisions and have each other's backs."
How has her Bollywood journey been so far and what are some of the lessons she's learned? "I think you need to be calm and be okay with being patient. It's not only about waiting but what you do while you wait. Because time is such a tricky thing, you have so much of it but at the same time you don't have any of it. To use time wisely, be patient and remain calm through ups and downs because that's part of everybody's journey - this is what I've learned."
QUICK TAKES WITH ATHIYA
What have you watched recently that you wish you had been a part of?
I've just finished watching a series on Amazon called Modern Love - it's brilliant and I'm absolutely obsessed with it. I just love the concept and everything about it - I wish I could have been a part of something like that.
Do you have a message for your Dubai fans?
I visited Dubai last week and I love going there and spending time there, everybody is so warm and lovely and I just hope that they all go and watch Motichoor Chaknachoor and enjoy it with family and friends as much as we enjoyed making it.