“I wish to play characters which people remember for a long time” – Rukshar Dhillon

Anish Mohanty

Rukshar Dhillon faced the camera for the first time when she participated in a reality show on MTV India several years back. She was just a teenager then and this was something she did just for fun. Years later, she decided to pursue acting as a profession. That led her towards doing a couple of films down South before she finally made her Hindi film debut with Bhangra Paa Le. The film released in early January and is now streaming on Netflix. In this interview, she talks about the positive response coming her way ever since the film started streaming on Netflix, meeting Salman Khan on the sets of Bigg Boss 13, working with South superstar Nani, being directed on a project via Skype and more.

It has been a little more than two months since Bhangra Paa Le released. Being your first Hindi film, do you wish it had reached out to a lot more people?

All of us wish for certain things in our life to happen in a particular way. Yes, the film did not do as well as we had expected it to but for me, it was like taking one step forward. I feel privileged about the fact that I got to make my Hindi film debut with such a prestigious production house. I received a good amount of appreciation for my performance in the film. Out of the many girls who auditioned for the film, I got the part. So, there is a lot for me to feel grateful about.

In hindsight, what do you think went wrong with the film?

Honestly, I am still too new to understand these things. I was given the responsibility to execute my character to the best of my abilities and I tried doing the same. I was just focussed on doing my best as an actress. At the end of the day, I enjoy the process of acting. Working on the film was a very fulfilling experience and I feel it has made me a better actor.

The film started streaming on Netflix recently.  

Yes, a lot of people, unfortunately, missed out on watching it in the theatres. I have been already receiving some wonderful messages from people who watched it on Netflix recently. It feels truly special to see so much love pouring in for the film.

Bhangra Paa Le was Sneha Taurani’s film as a director. The film had some striking visuals and she showed a lot of promise as a first-time director. How was your experience of working with her?

Working with Sneha was an absolutely amazing experience. I am really glad that I did my first Hindi film with her. Apart from being an efficient director, she brought a lot of positivity to the sets and inspired all of us to do our best. She encouraged us to the hilt. She handled the team wonderfully well. We have become very close friends and she is someone I can count on. I really hope that she does some amazing work in the future and I get to work with her again.

Ronnie Screwvala has been an inspiring figure for a lot of people both in the industry and outside of it. How was he as a producer?

I did not get to interact with him a lot but I did meet him before we started shooting for the film. He also came to the set once and spoke to us for a while then. When he watched the first cut of the film, he really liked it. He is somebody who is very focussed on what he wants. I am so glad that people like him believe in new talent. He has given so many actors, filmmakers and technicians their first big opportunity in the industry. For cinema to grow, new talent must be given a platform to prove their worth and he is somebody who has done it all the time. Bhangra Paa Le had so many new people and he believed in all of us.

You met Salman Khan while promoting the film on Bigg Boss 13. How was that experience like?

Meeting Salman sir was quite a memorable experience. When you meet him, you realise why he is loved by so many people and is the superstar he is. He was extremely warm and told us that he was looking forward to watch the film.

You faced the camera for the first time when you participated in the reality show MTV Teen Diva. Was that the first step towards stepping into the film industry?

No, I had just finished my tenth standard and I thought I needed to do something fun and different (laughs). I had seen the first season of the show and liked it. Just for fun, I auditioned for it in Bangaluru and got selected. I shot for the show during the two-month break we got after our tenth board exam. After the show, I got a lot of offers for Hindi serials but I was not sure if I wanted to become an actor. I wanted to focus on my studies at that time. After a couple of years, I finally realised that I wanted to pursue acting seriously and that is when I started looking for opportunities as an actor.

The Kannada film Katte (2015) was your first film. Did you have to audition for it?

Katte was my first film but I would not consider it to be my debut as it was a small film and got a limited release. In a way, my journey in films begun with Run Antony (2016) which was also a Kannada film. I had auditioned for the film. My work was appreciated and that is how I started getting offers for Telugu films. While I was shooting for my Telugu films, I was auditioning for films in Mumbai. After auditioning for many films, I got Bhangra Paa Le.

You were born in London and grew up in Goa and Bangalore. How did living in these different places shape you up as an individual?

I think being in different cities and meeting different kinds of people is a very interesting thing. I lived in Goa for the longest period of my life. It was a very warm and welcoming city. After that, we moved to Bangalore where I had a very good experience too. I used to travel to Hyderabad to shoot for my Telugu films and come to Mumbai for auditions. That is when, I feel, I started out on my own. My mom never really accompanied me to my shoots in Hyderabad. I just felt this was the time I had to be independent. She did come to visit me a few times but I never asked her to accompany me. I just felt this was my journey and wanted to go through the good and bad experiences on my own. Moving to different cites is an experience in itself. Moving to Mumbai was the toughest thing as finding a place to live in itself is a task. Thankfully, my team was very good. I was surrounded by positive people all the time. Now, after living here for a while, I have got used to the city and like it a lot. I go to visit my family in Bengaluru but now, I am primarily based in Mumbai.

In a couple of your films down South, you had very brief roles. In a lot of films being made there, we see that heroines get very small parts. Don’t you find that problematic?

So many people have spoken about it and it is something which cannot be denied. But, it is also a fact that these things are slowly changing. Actresses like Keerthy Suresh, Samantha, Anushka have a huge market of their own and the audience comes to the theatres to watch their films for them. Now, filmmakers are slowly realising that a film can be shouldered on a female actor. It has taken a while for the change to come in but it is finally happening. It also depends on whether a story is being told from the male or the female point of view.

You had the unique experience of being a part of a film in which the director called the shots via Skype.

Yes, it was a short film called Road King. The director could not be there for some reason and he came up with this idea of directing us via Skype. It was quite an interesting experience. They were trying to send the film to some festivals but I am not sure if it was screened somewhere.

I was watching a video of yours – it was an audio release function of one of your Telugu films and you were speaking in Telugu fluently. You seem to have mastered the language in a short span of time.

Actually, I have not really mastered the language. By the time I was shooting for ABCD (2018), I had managed to get a good hang of the language. I wanted to learn Telugu properly and dub for ABCD myself but I had got busy with preparing for Bhangra Paa Le and could not do so. In the South, the audience treats actors like Gods. They have so much love for them. I think things like learning the language are very small as compared to the amount of love and support they give us. I remember when we had gone for a pre-release event of Krishnarjuna Yudham (2018) to Vizag, Nani said during one of the interviews that I was learning the lines like how a student would prepare for her exam (laughs).

Your character was called Anagha in the Telugu film Aakatayi (2017) and there was a song named after her called ‘Anagha Anagha’. In real life, has anybody ever sung or dedicated a song to you?

No (laughs). I have not been that lucky. Also, I think ‘Rukshar Rukshar’ would be quite a difficult song to make.

I guess you would be happy if Fawad Khan sings for you in a film as he happens to be your favourite actor.

(Laughs) I have admired Fawad Khan from the time I watched him in the show ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’. From the South, I really like Dulquer Salmaan and Vijay Sethupathi. I like the kind of work Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh have done. Out of the new actors, I think Siddhant Chaturvedi is really promising.

Is there any female actor whom you have admired?

I have always connected to Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma as, like me, they are from Bengaluru. They have done so much good work and made a name for themselves on their own. That is really inspiring.

Once, an actor told me that the biggest struggle for an actor is to keep getting work. As a young actress, what are the kind of challenges that you face?

I think the challenge is always there until you reach a point when you have a big film to your name. Everybody wants to perform on a big platform. People are more interested in working with you when you are a part of a successful film. I wish to play characters which people remember for a long time. Everyone has their own journey. Luck does play a huge role in this industry but hard work and being dedicated to your craft maters a lot. Your attitude matter a lot. You must be humble and engage with people well.

Nani is a huge star in the Telugu film industry. How was the experience of working with him in Krishnarjuna Yudham?

Nani is a very humble and down-to-earth person. He treats you like an equal. I was a newcomer on the sets of the film but he never treated me like one. He let me be on my own and helped me whenever I needed it.

You have studied fashion designing and were interested in becoming a chef at one point of time.

Yes, I am very passionate about cooking and have been planning to take up a baking course in my free time. My focus is on acting but I also like to pursue a few other things I am passionate about.

What are you doing next?

There are a couple of projects in the pipeline. I am not allowed to talk about at the moment but hopefully, they will be officially announced soon.

The post “I wish to play characters which people remember for a long time” – Rukshar Dhillon appeared first on Popdiaries.