She played the archetypal Rajshri heroine in her debut film ‘Isi Life Mein’ and left an impression with her portrayal of a demure, young girl grown up in a traditional environment. Despite the film not doing too well at the box office, Sandeepa Dhar received a lot of accolades for her performance. In the next couple of years, when one longed to see more of her, she was seen only in a select few films. In this interview, she talks about her journey as an actress, reasons behind being absent from the screen for a long time and her upcoming film ‘7 Hours To Go’.
You made your debut with ‘Isi Life Mein’, a film produced by Rajshri Productions. After that, you were seen only in a handful of films. Why?
After the film came out, I moved to Australia for two years as I was studying dance there. I was also a part of an international Broadway musical called The West Side Story. I was in another country and hence, could not do a lot of films in India. I used to come to India during the vacations and did films like ‘Dabangg 2’ and ‘Heropanti’ that did not require too much of my time. I would come to India for a couple of days, finish the shoot and go back to Australia. Now, my focus is on doing more films.
You come from a non-film background. You were born in Srinagar and then grew up in Bangalore and North India. How did films happen?
I have spent some good amount of time in Mumbai. I studied in a college in the city. Acting was not something that was alien to me. I started doing ad films while I was still in college. The casting director at Rajshri Productions spotted me in one of the commercials I had done and called me for an audition for ‘Isi Life Mein’.
You mentioned that you worked in an international Broadway Play called ‘The West Side Story’. Tell us something about it.
It was an Australian production directed by Gary Stewart. I played the role of the female protagonist called Maria. I was the only Indian actor in the entire cast. It was a huge learning experience. There were actors from all around the world. I got to interact with people from different cultures. Of course, there were no retakes. If it is a two hour long show, you have to perform continuously for two hours and you get the feedback then and there. There are times when you commit a mistake and you have to cover it up. Just as film is considered to be the director’s medium, theatre is the actor’s medium. It helped me evolve as an actor and grow as a human being too. We have done more than hundred shows and travelled to different countries. Travelling is very essential for one to grow as a person. Gary Stewart is a legend in Broadway musicals and getting to work with them was a huge honour.