Rasika Dugal, who has stolen away the audience’s heart with her cute smile and amazing acting in Qissa, Tu Hai Mera Sunday and many more has again brought a smile on the audiences face by playing Safiyah Manto in Nandita Das’ Manto.
UrbanAsian got a chance to interview this chirpy girl Rasika Dugal, who spoke about the ups and downs in her career, about Nawazuddin Siddiqui and lots about Manto.
Read it out all here:
- What was that one thing that made you say yes to the script of Manto?
I actually wanted to do the film even before I read the script. But then I wanted to do because of Manto, I had read a lot of Manto’s book, because of Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. I knew that I had to do it. But when I read the script what really stood out to me were two things:
– Through Safiyah and her daughters, I really got to see a sight of Manto which I didn’t know before. I got to know Manto as a person rather than just a writer.
– I really liked the way Nandita decided to intervene the stories with his own stories.
- How was it working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui?
Very nice. I think that when you have actors like him to play off, your work becomes much better. Good co-actors make you look better than you actually are. Nawaz and I were on the same page. It was very smooth and easy. When you look at him, he looks very serious but actually, he is very fun.
- We had read it that you both used to play each other’s critic after the screening. Was it so?
Whenever we watch any screening, after the film, we discuss that you had done this, you had done that. Now we talk a lot about the scenes and give each other feedback about what we thought the working of the scene. And that is the best feedback actually. It is always fun to exchange those notes.
- Do you read each and every review of your film?
Somebody famous said that “The only thing good than a bad review is a good review.” (Laughs)
Because it makes you so conscious of what you are doing that you lose the confidence. But I try not to read but then I start getting curious and end up reading all the reviews. (Laughs). I haven’t reached that level of professionalism yet I guess.
- How did you prepare yourself as Safiyah?
There was nothing defined. Nandita had already done a lot of research in which she had spoken to the family and everyone. So she got a lot of information from them that was not mentioned anywhere not even in the book. For example, no one knew that Safiyah used to call Manto, Sa Saab because his name was Saadat Hasan Manto. So Manto had told her to call him Saadat only so Safiyah decided to call him Sa Saab.
So all I had to do was own that information that she gave me and read more about Manto.
- One good and one bad quality about Nawaz?
Good Quality: He is a wonderful, generous actor. He is a good mimic and a fun person to be around.
Bad quality (Laughs)…. I cannot think of any. I will try. I will ask him only about this. (Laughs)
- The movie has been loved a lot in the Film Festivals, so were you confident that the film will be appreciated by the Indian audiences as well?
I was encouraged by the response the movie got internationally but I was also curious whether people in our country who read about Manto how will they react to it. People like Imtiaz Ali and Shabana Azmi who knew about Manto, it was like what they will think. Internationally also people know about Manto but not as much as people in India. So I was nervous about that Manto’s fans should not be upset. I hope that we are done full justice to what they think about Manto.
- A Funny/Memorable incident that happened while shooting the song?
Lots. But there is one which is quite funny. So Nandita is a very detailed director. She had planned everything properly. So I thought as an actor I should also give some ideas. So one day I told her, Safiyah and Manto had a kid called Arif, who died when he was 1 year old only. So I told Nandita we will keep Arif’s picture on our Bombay house. If people notice it is fine, if not then also not a problem. Just for pleasing the actor inside me.
She said yes. And then there is a scene where Nawaz goes to Lahore which comes in the film after I go to Lahore. So I thought in the scene when I am going to Lahore I will pack the picture in my suitcase. If it is seen then it is good and if not then also fine. That scene was shot after Nawaz’s scene. And then when Nawaz was shooting for the Lahore scene, he took the photo and he went so when my scene came I saw that the photo is not there and Nawaz has already taken it. (Laughs)
- How has your journey been so far in the Industry?
It’s been up and down. I have been very fortunate for the kind of work that I have got but also I wished that my work had reached a wider audience. I still hope that it will. But of course, the kind of experiences that I have got as an actor has been more than I have thought. Not many people get a chance to have that in one career. A film like Qissa, Manto, they all have been very beautiful films and working with such amazing actors is great. I think I have been more fortunate in the department of directors, co-actors and the kind of films. But the reach of the films that have been a hurdle, which I hope will gradually overcome.
- What’s next?
Lots! A film called Hamid, which is been playing at MAMI. Mirzapur which will be out on Amazon. Other series called Delhi Police, in which I play an IPS officer. And one more film which I am not allowed to talk about, I have just finished shooting of the film. And one more film which will start next week.