“As I too have a brother, it wasn’t tough playing Ayushmann’s sister”

Actress Ujali Raj made a small but impacting debut in the role playing Ayushmann Khurrana’s sister Payal in Gulabo Sitabo. Here she speaks about how it was working on this movie starring megastar Amitabh Bachchan and the versatile Ayushmann.

With the decision of releasing the film on web streaming during the Coronavirus Lockdown, Gulabo Sitabo has emerged the most talked about film in recent weeks. How does it feel being part of a widely discussed project like this?

As this is my debut film, I am very excited about it. It definitely feels amazing and overwhelming working in this big project with versatile actors and being directed by a great filmmaker like Shoojit Sircar. I am very happy to be the part of such a talked-about film. Even though its released during the lockdown, its getting all the attention and praise needed.

How was it working as Ayushmann’s sister Payal in the film?

As I too have a brother, it was not tough to play a sister in the movie.

Are you happy with the limited scope you got playing the character?

I am very happy with the role I got to play, as I’ve always put quality above quantity.

Is the role of Payal close to how you are in your real life? Did you undergo preparation for the role?

No, Payal is a completely different character. I have never experienced life as a tenant. Yes, I did prepare for the role. At the location of the sets, I got a chance to meet some tenants and adopt their habits and routine.

How has been the response to your performance? Have you been getting positive feedback?

The response and feedback I am receiving is really amazing. Its 100% positive feedback so far. People around me, known and unknown, and even family members and friends… almost everyone is happy for me. Seeing them happy and getting appreciated by them is really wonderful for me.

Where are you basically from and have you studied acting too?

I was born in Delhi and raised in Moradabad. I have been actively doing theatre for the past few years.

Coming from a non-Bollywood background, has your family been supportive of you in your acting endeavours?

Luckily, I’ve always got support and appreciation from my family. They’ve encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

Did your experience in theatre help you being at ease with such great actors such as megastar Amitabh Bachchan and the versatile Ayushmann Khurrana. Or were you nervous or intimidated by their presence?

Yes, theatre helped me in being confident and thanks to it, I overcame stage fright. But working with such experienced and versatile actors like Bachchan Sir and Ayushmann Sir, anybody can get nervous. I too was. But I soon realized that they are very down-to-earth and supportive people, and that helped put my thoughts at ease. Throughout the film, I got encouragement to work with confidence.

People are divided in their opinion about movies with big Bollywood stars releasing on web streaming platforms. Do you think it’s a bad idea, or do you think the time has come when all media outlets could converge?

It is a dream for every debutant to be on the big screen. But being an artist, one learns to adapt to every situation. So I am fine with the movie being released on web streaming platform. Time is changing fast and people are very receptive to web platforms now. So yes, I feel it does not make much of a difference as long as one is able to make the right impression and impact with the role.

Where do you go from here? Do you plan to do more movies and web films?

Of course, I sure have a long journey ahead. And I will definitely love to work on more projects with more amazing people.

Who are your favourite Hollywood and Bollywood stars and what are the kind of roles or characters you would like to play?

My favourite actor no doubt is Mr Amitabh Bachchan Sir. As far as Hollywood goes, I really admire Meryl Streep. As I’ve just begun in movies, I’m open to doing all kinds of characters and roles. I feel an artiste is most happy being able to showcase versatility.

Leading news features about India's biggest film industry -- Bollywood.

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