In Conversation with Priya Bathija: “I am a greedy actor”

Debutant Priya Bathija talks to MAM on cinema about her debut Chor Chor Super Chor and the world of television.

 Your first film Chor Chor Super Chor is up for release, congratulations. Butterflies? Scared? Nervous?

(laughs) Butterflies yes…definitely yes. Am very excited, as each day gets closer to THE Friday; but I am not scared at all.I  Am confident of what we have made, of my work, of the film and its strengths. It is a pacy quirky ride that I am sure the audiences would love.

How was your experience?

Absolutely amazing. Every project I have worked on till date has been a learning experience for me. This has been no different. Most of the actors in the film are new comers, strongly rooted in theatre. It was a complete team work effort on everybody’s part.

Deepak is an experienced nuanced actor. How was the experience starting out opposite him?

I have known Deepak for close to four years now. He is an amazing co-star, helpful and totally dedicated to the role. I have learnt a lot observing him. I not just play his love interest in the movie, but also a vital part of the puzzle in the story. So there were more opportunities to learn and share while on the sets as well.

You have been a prolific successful actor on TV. How has the transition to cinema been? Are the two worlds poles apart?

Frankly I haven’t got the time to actually reflect on that. I was just out of Dwaarkadheesh when I auditioned for the role, the team called back asking me to be prepared for the shoot in the next two days. So it was a very smooth move for me into this new world.

As in you really did not have to struggle for foothold in the movie business?

You could put it that way. I did not have to wait for years and give auditions galore. Having said that, I do not find much difference between the two worlds.

150856-priya-bhatija.jpgWas there no difference you found in the two mediums? The work culture?

Yes, there are differences. The people are different new co actors, new teams.   In terms of work culture, yes, the approach is slightly different; the way one looks at the role is different. In T.V. you have the luxury of just your face being in the frame, so a lot of mistakes get hidden that way. In films, body language is important. Frames capture your entirety, you have to get the nuances right every time.

Television is often accused of being regressive, of lacking experimentation and variety. How has your tryst been on the idiot box?

I do not subscribe to the fact that T.V. is regressive. If that were the case, you would not find every film star worth his name on the tube these days. Films cannot do without coming to T.V. for their promotions; the reach and power that Television yields is immense.

But then where is the content? Beyond the usual family weep sagas, is there anything new happening on T.V. in the country?

Of course there is. Slowly but surely, T.V. is seeing a shift in the genres that constitute programming. Yet, there also is the fact that what we see on T.V. is what the audience wants to see. There are many shows that get pulled off air even weeks after their launch since the audience just does not watch them. It is a catch twenty two situation many a times.

Do you as an actor get variety on T.V.?

A cursory look at my work in the last six years would tell you that variety does exist on the idiot box for those who are ready to seek and wait. I have consciously opted for roles that are varied and opposite to what I already have done. There is a lot of innovation that happens in the set framework as well. New faces have swamped the T.V. industry today; the old guard has made way for fresh ideas and talent. There is this growing trend of crime based shows as well, which are a delight for an actor and a hit with the audiences.  An important shift in mind-set today is that actors are cast not cause they look presentable but because the suit the character and role. There is a lot of thought that goes before casting a particular actor in a serial, much like in the movie industry.

So would you say that in today’s time T.V. is equal in stature to the silver screen?

Of course, if not more important. Reality T.V., hosts, anchors, film stars and films are finding their way into the industry.

In that sense, is T.V. not the quintessential stepping stone for the big leap to the silver screen? Take Reality dance shows for example…

(laughs) If dance reality shows were a stepping stone trust me I would be in films much much earlier. Nach Baliye happened to me as well; but I took it as a challenge, to prove to myself that I am good. Plus it was a new thing on T.V. for me and I did it. It all depends on what you are looking for in the work you do, you attitude to work.  Plus, the lines between the two mediums are blurring. There is no need for a stepping stone anymore.

 Would you then be game to return to T.V. now that you are a film actor as well?

I do not see any reason not to. I am a very greedy actor and am constantly on the lookout for something new to do. If I get a role that is different from what I have done till now, I would not hesitate to say a yes. Straddling the two worlds is not that difficult today. take Ram Kapoor for instance. He has been doing some fabulous work on the bigger screen, Udaan, Mere Dad ki Maruti to name a few. And he is doing equally well on T.V. The idiot box expands your reach as an actor.

 Does it also hinder your acceptance as a heroine in some way? Is it easy to transition from a daily soap actress to a film star?

As an actor, there is not much difference. You come to the sets give your hundred percent to the role irrespective of the medium.  As for acceptance as an actress, like I said, we have made an amazingly fun film. Fingers crossed, I would be accepted with open arms. If not, I will move on to make sure the next one is better and I grow as an actor each time.

priya bhatijahot.jpgWhat kind of films would you like to work in?

I love romance, comedy, fun films. I would love to be a part of films like that. Right now though, I am not planning anything. I am a greedy actor and anything that excites me, makes me want to do the part, I am game for it.

Alternate cinema?

If the part is good, then why not. Also, today the lines between mainstream and alternate cinema are blurring, much like T.V. and cinema itself. So I really do not think ki no, this is not a masala film so I will not do it. The role should be good that’s about it. Experimentation is paramount for me.

Thank you for speaking to us. Wish you all the best for Chor Chor Super Chor.

Thank you. The film is total Paisa Vasool. I am sure you guys would enjoy it.

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