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Interview Hindi

I was not really keen on doing Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain: Actress Shivani Raghuvanshi

The actress speaks about the different expressions of love in Harish Vyas's film, the fun working with Sanjai Mishra, and her changing experience of Hindi cinema.

Shriram Iyengar

The trailer of Harish Vyas's Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain captures the struggle of a middle-aged man learning to express love anew. Vyas's subtle, emotional drama is built around three generations of couples finding their own ways to express their feelings. Among them is Shivani Raghuvanshi, who represents the modern young woman fighting to follow her heart. 

As an actress, Raghuvanshi has only progressed from her debut in Kanu Behl's stunning Titli (2015). She has since tried short films, and a web-series with Zoya Akhtar, Made In Heaven. 

In an exclusive interview with Cinestaan.com, Raghuvanshi spoke about the experience of working with the entertaining ensemble cast of Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain, and how her idea of cinema has changed. Excerpts:

How were you approached for the film?

I remember I received a call from Harish Vyas on my birthday, and I was busy with my friends. I did not pick up that call. I called him later, and he just said that he is making a film and was looking for an actor to play Sanjai Mishra's daughter. Since I had done Titli before that, I was not really keen on this one. 

Later, Anshuman [Jha, actor] called me up and asked me to come down for the narration. I went in with the strong idea that 90% I might not do the film. It was a time when I was saying no to a lot of films, as I was not keen on the scripts that came in. It was my mother who really convinced me. When I narrated it to her, she said, 'Trust me, do it.' 

I loved the script the minute I read it. I felt connected because it is a very relatable subject. While youngsters are expressive, it does not really last. It is limited for the duration of the first few years of love. Eventually, life takes over. 

We should understand that love is an important part of our lives, and we cannot neglect it. 

The film does take off from a different zone from Titli. 

Titli and Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain are from very different zones. In Titli, the theme revolves around the fact that we become the same people we hate intensely. It was more gritty, a family drama.

This is a lighter film, and revolves around the theme of love. There are three generations that love in different ways. It was easier though. 

The film also has a fantastic ensemble cast with Sanjai Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi leading it. How was working with them? 

Sanjaiji was fantastic. I did not expect him to be this kind of person. We just left an interview, and we are laughing out loud. We were eating together, chilling out together. It was the feel of a family, and it reflects on screen. He was taking care of us. 

Most importantly, whenever he is around, everybody is laughing. He would also help us with the role, reading lines with us. 

With Pankaj sir, there were no scenes. But trust me, I watched a scene on set while he was shooting. It was not my scene, but he had a three-second shot, where a qawwali plays. The DOP [director of photography] just could not pan the camera, because despite doing nothing, he was holding the scene.

Since Titli, you have been involved in a couple of interesting projects, including Zoya Akhtar's upcoming web series.

That is a fun project. It was a lighter, easier project. There were so many people involved. Practically every episode had a new cast. Zoya has her own way of directing. She wants fun on set, and she is so much fun to work with. 

Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain review: Sanjai Mishra, Ekavali Khanna deliver top-notch performances

I remember reading an interview where you mentioned before Titli you were not very fond of realistic cinema. Has it changed since?

Well, I am from Delhi and I grew up seeing very few films. The few films that I would sneak out with friends for showed this glamorous world, and fashion. This was cinema for me. I was very limited in my knowledge. 

Shivani Raghuvanshi in Titli (2015)

When I came on board for Titli, I realized there was a different world as well. I remember telling Kanu [Behl, director], 'Your film is good, but it won't work'. He laughed it of, but it was then I realized the quality of work matters. Hopefully, I will be able to learn as I keep working at it.