PeepingMoon Exclusive: I grew up suddenly with Dil Bechara, now no problem seems bigger as I have seen enough- Sanjana Sanghi

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Sanjana Sanghi's excitement knows no boundaries. After all, she is gearing up for her theatrical debut, Rashtra Kavach Om, co-starring Aditya Roy Kapur. The film directed by Kapil Verma will be releasing in theatres globally on July 1. 

Ahead of Om's release, PeepingMoon.com spoke to Sanjana Sanghi about her official theatrical debut. Talking to us, the young actress opened up about shooting for the action-thriller amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and how she evolved as a person during Dil Bechara's shoot and release.  

Excerpts from the interview:

Why did you sign Rashtra Kavach Om as your second film?

Haha, I didn't sign Om, the film signed me. As actors, we always want to challenge ourselves and do what we think we never can. Om was something I never thought I could do. When Ahmed Khan and the team at ZEE showed faith in me, I asked them why did you even consider me for Kavya's part? They felt my honesty and grip over my craft in Dil Bechara made them choose me. They thought I can pull off Kavya well. When they showed this confidence in me and I had Aditya as my co-star, there was no thinking twice.  

You shot for the film right in the middle of the pandemic. How difficult was it? 

We survived COVID-19 and Omicron while filming Om. Action films are made on a large scale and you cannot work with a skeletal crew. It felt like an army camp. We were in a bubble and tried to be as careful as we could. We also had an international schedule. It was challenging but we managed. 

We will be seeing you kick some punches. Do you wish to establish yourself as an action heroine?

One and a half years ago, I did not know that I would be doing a film titled Om and it would release on July 1. I have never grown up wanting to be an action heroine. After doing Om, I have learnt that I can be one. I hope after this writers in Bollywood open the floodgates for women in the action genre. 

Is it true that actors struggle for work after their first film releases? 

I don’t know why they say so. I feel the struggle till your first film is taxing. Of course, it is challenging to get your second film but the journey to your first film is totally different. After your debut film releases, you have to make the right choices and moves to bag future projects. But having a choice is a privilege. You have to audition and when you are not able to crack a single film, you need a lot of motivation to wake up the next morning and try again. Those who haven't experienced this might feel the struggle begins after the first film. 

Did you struggle to get your first film? 

Yes, but in a different way. I was a child actor. Having started with Rockstar, ads and small roles here and there, I grew up with the industry. Prominent casting directors knew me since I was 13 so I never landed in Mumbai as an aspiring actor who had to struggle for recognition. I come from a regular family in Delhi and nobody is remotely connected to cinema. It’s been learning on the job. 

What do you prefer-commercial cinema or content-driven cinema?

While I love commercial Bollywood cinema, I would also love to do content-driven films. I have been a nerd at school and it is not possible for me to ignore content and substance. I believe when hardcore Bollywood meets substance, that is a killer combination. Aditya and I feel Om is that kind of a film. 

Dhak Dhak is a female-centric film. How excited are you about that?

I am very excited. I am right in the middle of the shoot. My mind is shuttling between the valleys of the Himalayas and Om’s theatrical release. This is actually my theatrical debut as Dil Bechara released on the OTT. I have never felt this excitement before. 

Did you regret that Dil Bechara released on OTT?

Not at all. Millions of people connected with it and are still loving it. As I am shooting in Manali, I hear people shout my name out loudly. I have realised that the film has touched so many lives. 

Did Dil Bechara's pre and post-release change you as a person? Did you grow up suddenly?

Yes, I definitely grew up suddenly. I was a 20-year-old on a film set and then I was a 22-year-old when it released. It was a transformative journey as an actor. I discovered myself as a performer that I never had before. That was eye-opening for me. It taught me a lot and it prepared me for everything. It taught me a lot at a young age and now, no problem seems bigger because I have seen enough. I went through a challenging yet rewarding experience. Every film is challenging and rewarding in its own way. Every day, after shooting for Om, I would go home bruised. It was a challenging film too. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from Om?

I told my director Kapil that Om has been a magical experience for me. Anything that I say would be less to describe how smooth it was. 

Did you get intimidated by Aditya Roy Kapur?

Not at all. I remember I was in the 11th grade when Aashiqui 2 released and I was among the gazillion girls who fell in love with him. 

Do you feel heroines today are getting better opportunities to hold their own ground in films? 

A 100%. When I was in school, I remember watching Taapsee Pannu, Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone etc talk passionately about women in Indian cinema. I am proud of the fact that I am doing a film produced by Taapsee. I feel happy to be an actor today. The previous generations of actresses have paved the way for us and it is an honour to take it forward. 

Om is your first theatrical release. Do you feel the box-office pressure?

These last few months have been unpredictable. I have seen good films underperform at the box office. We have made Om with our blood and sweat and are crazily proud of it. We hope our audience loves it too. At this moment, I can just hope for that. If they don’t, I will be heartbroken as it is a really good film. If not, we will try again. 

What’s your take on the north vs south debate? 

According to me, there is no debate. We are one huge family. I never understood why there was a demarcation. It is a happy thing that now I can work with Jr NTR, Vijay Deverakonda and all of India can watch it. It is such a big leap in the right direction. 

Is Om getting a sequel?

Aditya confirmed this on The Kapil Sharma Show. There will be no sequel without me.

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