Her three-year long association with the Indian film industry as a costume designer never led her to face the camera, but Kirti Malhotra couldn’t say no when she was handpicked by Kiran Rao to play an important role in her directorial debut “Dhobi Ghat”.
“I never thought of acting. When the question came whether I want to do this film or not, it was clear to me it’s the kind of film I would always go and watch. I think I was really, really lucky in this case. There are newcomers every day in the masala films and you rather be in a film that stands out than be lost in the crowd with all these films,” Kirti told IANS in an interview.
Kirti is not the absolute fresh face as she’s done costume designing for “Sarkar Raaj”, the dream song in “Delhi 6″, “Action Replayy” and recently “No Problem”. “The acting kept happening in between. And then there was dubbing, but I continued with my costume designing until last month,” said Kirti.
Kirti has portrayed the character of Yasmin in “Dhobi Ghat”.
Though “Dhobi Ghat” is a film where emotions are expressed more through action, Yasmin has most dialogues in the film, said Kirti.
“Yasmin is one character who has a lot to speak. It’s about her perspective of the city and people and how they have affected her. The whole character graph you get only through her voice,” she said.
Director Kiran Rao also identifies most with Yasmin’s character. Kirti said, “I think Yasmin is her closest character. Other than Munna (Prateek Babbar), which is one author-backed character. She knows Yasmin so well that when we were acting out the scenes, she knew how Yasmin would say a line, how she would look, how she would pause between two sentences. In fact, I didn’t have to do much.”
Apart from Kirti and Prateek, Monica Dogra (Shai) plays an Indian-American banker who is in the city for a photographic expedition.
Aamir Khan, who is producing the film, played the character of Arun, a seclusive modern art painter, but he was yet to come on board when Kirti was selected for the film.
“When I got on to the film, Aamir wasn’t in the film yet. He was, I think, still in the process of convincing Kiran that he can play a role. When I got on to the film it was going to be the small film festival kind of film.
“When Aamir came into the film my reaction was ‘Oh my God, now everyone is going to watch the film’ because immediately your audience space becomes that huge,” said Kirti.
Talking about her experience with Aamir, she said, “Nothing can prepare you best when you are acting in front of Aamir Khan. He is literally an artiste within acting. When we were doing the reading, he acted out his first scene in three different ways, just to give options to Kiran how differently the scene could be done. I felt that my voice even wouldn’t come out while shooting the film.
“He is super intelligent, very sharp, very perceptive; so I think once you get over the fact that superstar Aamir Khan is in front of you and be normal, he is very normal.”
Asked if the feeling of being an actor has sunk in her by now, she said, “Of course in the Toronto International Film Festival I had the whole fairy tale experience. But in the last three weeks, when the promos have started coming out, there are posters around, friends and parents have started talking about it, it has started sinking in.”
Kirti isn’t sure which way her acting career would head after “Dhobi Ghat” is released.
“Since I have been given this opportunity on a golden platter, I want to see how it goes with the reaction of the film, my performance and everything and then I can pursue this. Acting career can go anyway. The kind of film this is it could go to crossover films. I am not too sure about the typical masala film, may be one I have to do in my life,” said Kirti.
(Dibyojyoti Baksi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)