Sanya Malhotra on five years in Bollywood

‘Sam Bahadur is special because I am going to be working with Meghana Gulzar. It’s a dream come true,’ says Sanya Malhotra.

Babita Kumari in Dangal, Ahana Mathur in Ludo or even Sandhya in Pagglait, Sanya Malhotra is nothing like these characters.

She has got an unexpected streak of humour that gets to you when you least expect it. “Congratulations on Meenakshi Sundareshwar’s success, and your upcoming film Sam Bahadur,” I started with the obvious. “I am quite happy with the response the film has got, and I am looking forward to Sam Bahadur. It’s been an experience as I’ll be playing Silloo Bode, Sam Manekshaw’s wife,” says Sanya.

“The fact that I was quite entertained while reading the narration made me say yes. As an actor, I was craving to do such a film, and I also wanted to watch something like Meenakshi Sundareshwar and Sam Bahadur as an audience. Also, I loved the script, and I could relate to the character,” the 29-year-old actor says, while explaining why it was a no-brainer for her to say yes to both the films.

Malhotra has a thing about her and can make any dull scene better. I say that with experience. She made the entire conversation interesting, and gave us a detailed insight into her life and journey in the industry. “It has been a learning experience. The films I do help me in honing my skills. It adds another layer to my thought process. Art adds a lot to an artiste.”

Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh’s chemistry as two sisters in the real-life boxing drama Dangal was palpable. However, their off-screen friendship, which was visible throughout rounds of interviews, became a talking topic as well. Collaborating with Shaikh again is another reason for celebration for the actor. “First co-stars are always special. Life has come a long way, and the film is a reminder. Five years ago, we were kids. I am so proud and happy for us.”

It has not been an easy journey for the actor. Having trained in contemporary dance and ballet, Malhotra decided to move to Mumbai from New Delhi, after finishing college to participate in the reality show Dance India Dance. That did not go as planned, but she stayed back in the city of dreams, chasing her ambitions of making it big as an actor. What followed her was the rigour of the audition circuit.

Malhotra has completed five years in Bollywood, and feels grateful to the audience for appreciating her hard work. “It has been a dream journey for me – giving interviews, playing different characters. I feel blessed, and I am grateful to the audiences for liking my movies. To be honest, I had never thought I would come so far. I had small dreams but what I am experiencing right now is something I never imagined. It’s all very beautiful,” she says.

It is this drive to keep learning new things that has pushed her to foray into unfamiliar territory with every role that she picks. When the pandemic happened, Malhotra did not hesitate to try working in films released on OTT platforms. She says, “It was a gratifying experience. I felt good knowing that I am able to entertain people sitting at home.”

When Malhotra picks up a script, she says, “I want to be challenged.” “I’ve always looked for characters that are different, and would give me a chance to experiment with my craft. The role I am playing has to engage the audience. I don’t want to stay in my comfort zone as it irritates me,” she adds.

Agreeing to the fact that OTT platforms are a game-changer, Malhotra, whom we saw in Shakuntala Devi, Ludo, Pagglait, and most recently, Meenakshi Sundareshwar, says, “OTT platforms served as a huge source of entertainment for people who were stuck at home. Through OTT, our films are now able to reach so many people, even those in remote locations where there are no theatres.”

Chirpy, bubbly, gorgeous, and blatantly honest are just a few adjectives that define Malhotra. She believes that working on films that are a clutter breaker “gives happiness and hope.”

“According to me, there’s nothing like a ‘star’ or ‘big’ and ‘small’ actor. Content is king, and the audience is clever enough to understand what is good. It’s important to have a strong script, and that’s what the audience also prefers. They like films that have good content,” Sanya adds.

Unfazed by the controversy that happened around her latest film Meenakshi Sundareshwar, Sanya says, “It doesn’t matter. There might be a few people who had issues with the film, but then there are more people who loved it. Kuchh toh log kahenge, logo ka kaam hai kehna (People will say things), and my work is to continue working hard.”

Malhotra will next be seen with Rajkummar Rao in Hit: The First Case, and also with Vikrant Massey and Bobby Deol in Love Hostel.

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