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Interview Hindi

Star-struck Jassie Gill took 10 days to get talking to Sonakshi Sinha

The Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi (2018) actress recalls how the Punjabi actor-singer was so nervous that after 10 days of shooting he sent his manager to request for a picture with his favourite actress.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Optimism. That's one word that springs to mind each time you talk about Sonakshi Sinha. No matter how her films perform, Sinha is always bustling with optimism. And more so because her next film is Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi (2018).

Director Mudassar Aziz is back with the sequel to his 2016 cross-border comedy Happy Bhag Jayegi. Sinha joins Diana Penty as the other Happy in the film. In fact, the new story is centred around Sinha's character. So it's a double dose of Happy-ness for the audience.

Wearing a bright blue T-shirt, with the word 'Happy' written on it, Sinha spoke briefly to a group of journalists. The actress shared her joy of being part of the franchise, why her co-star Jassie Gill took 10 days before initiating their first conversation, and why she is not perturbed by the spate of flop films.

Excerpts from the conversation:

When we say the words, 'being happy', it implies that you are in a state of bliss, but being Happy here is leading to chaos in the life of your character in Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi.

Yeah. It is leading to chaos in my character's life, but it is bringing me a lot of happiness as an actor. Being able to work with such fine talent in the film in itself has been so amazing. But yeah, the confusion begins from this identity crisis that happens in the film.

Can you relate to a character like Happy?

I think most girls would be able to relate to her in a big way. She is today’s girl, one who loves her happiness and will do anything for her happiness. She is well educated, has set goals for herself. Most girls today have that mindset. Other than that she is a Punjabi girl. I felt at home playing this character. Even though I’m not a Punjabi, I have Punjabi traits in me. So many people tell me, I look like a Punjabi. I love Punjabi food, I dance like a Punjabi. I’m only listening to Punjabi songs all day long. It feels natural for me to play this character.

This is perhaps one film that brings India, Pakistan and China under one umbrella.

Yeah. It does. That is the director Mudassar Aziz’s speciality that he does it in a such a way that it is taken in good humour. It’s not taken in the wrong way.

Is this the first time that you have shot in China?

We shot a lot in Malaysia and Bangkok. We’ve shot the exterior bits in China. Then we shot in Amritsar and Mumbai. It’s been like a South Asia tour.

The question of  films, art and entertainment bridging divide comes along when we see a cross-border film. But in a real world, perhaps it’s too much to expect actors to help improve diplomatic relations. Isn’t an actor’s job to just act?

Yeah. (pauses and laughs). I agree with you. But as an actor, you are put in a certain position, where people do hear your voice. It’s not necessarily through your films, but there’s a lot of things that you do outside that, for any cause. If we get the opportunity to do that, then of course we will.

Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi rides on a comedy of errors. Have you ever had one in your life, because of your name?

Even today people call me, Sonali, Meenakshi. Earlier in school, it wasn’t a common name. I would tell them Sonakshi, but they assumed that one cannot have such a name. They assumed it to be Meenakshi.

Jassie Gill is a big fan of yours. What was your experience of shooting with this young talent?

He is fun to shoot with, a very fine actor which I discovered while shooting for the film. He is a wonderful singer, often he would entertain us singing on the sets. It is nice to work with people who have such a nice and positive vibe. I’m glad that he has made his [Hindi] film debut with this film.

If am a fan of a celebrity, tomorrow if I get to work with him or her, probably in my first conversation, I’d be barely able to speak to him/her. Did he refer to you as Sonakshi ma’am?

The same thing happened with me. For the first 10 days, he just wouldn’t speak to me. I had met him for one of the initial readings, we just greeted each other. I found him quiet even then. Once we started shooting, 10 days gone by and this boy isn’t talking. He’s constantly on his phone, using SnapChat. He wouldn’t even utter a word. Then on the last day when he finished shooting [presumably the particular schedule], he sent his manager to my van who knocked on and said, 'Jassi wants a photo with you'. I told Jassi, 'please come, you can’t be behaving like this'. He told me I’ve always been his favourite actor and he couldn’t believe that he was working with me. He took a selfie, uploaded it on Instagram. His fans were happier. After that the ice broke, and he began opening up.

When three-four films don’t click, the kind of work that comes in, does that take a hit?

It may or may not. It depends upon the kind of person. It depends upon how individually strong that person is with an audience where the people still want to watch that person or not. There are lot of factors that come into play. I feel that once you build a connect with an audience, it goes deeper than a hit or a flop. If the audience connects with you, they will come and watch you. I’ve had biggest hits. I’ve had some movies that have not done well. But who hasn’t? It’s part and parcel of life.  

We also get to see Sonakshi Singh the singer, with the 'Chin Chin Chu' remake. Can you talk about that?

Because Jassie sang the male version, they [music composer Sohail Sen and filmmakers] know I sing and so they asked me to sing the female bits of it.  I’m happy to have done it, as the song has been getting a really good response. This song captures the essence of our film – Punjab meets China, correctly. The song is basically a summary of what our film is about. We’ve given 'Chin Chin Chu' a Punjabi tadka.