Actress Shivaleeka Oberoi feels “unreal” as her debut film, ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ clocks one year today. ETimes caught up with the actress for a tête-à-tête where she opened being one year old in Bollywood, memories of her debut film, and more. Excerpts…
Your debut movie ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ completes one year today. How does it feel to be one year old in the industry?
It feels completely unreal because I could have only dreamt of having two releases in a year. My heart is full. In the first year itself, I had ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ releasing then ‘Khuda Haafiz’ released during the pandemic. I feel blessed. My heart is full of gratitude. I have been accepted and loved by the audience and everybody from the industry. I couldn’t have asked for more. I feel I am in a great place and I can’t wait to be a part of such great films.
It was also the debut of your co-star Vardhan Puri. How was it working with him?
It was great working with him. We both were debutantes so we helped each other through our scenes and our characterization. We instantly clicked during our look test only. We became great friends even before we started shooting. We had about six-seven months of prep time and an insane number of workshops. I don’t think it would have been possible if we didn’t connect and it showed on the screen. I am quite glad that we bonded that well.
What are your fondest memories of the film?
Apart from the whole film being a learning experience for me as an actor, there was this very sweet moment that happened during the shoot of the film. A little girl came to me and asked for my autograph. That is when I actually woke up and realised that now I am an actress and in front of the camera and not working behind the camera. That memory is etched in my heart. That was my first autograph so it was truly special.
Do you feel that the film was able to open up opportunities for you as an actor?
It absolutely did because a performance-driven film which for a debutant is very unusual but challenging at the same time. I am glad that I was a part of a film like that where I could show my versatility as an actor.
How did the film happen?
‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ happened after I had tried all my luck with a lot of auditions. I had given more than a hundred auditions for Bollywood films, regional films and ads. When I auditioned for this, I had no hope. After the auditions, I gave seven look tests. They asked me to read the script. When I read it, I was completely shocked because it was a very different film. I had to make a very important decision in my life where I had to make a debut with a film where my character had a grey shade and multiple layers. Her graph was incredible. It was a tough decision as I knew I had to work very hard. It just felt right. I had to say yes to it.
You bagged your second film, ‘Khuda Haafiz’ even before ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’ released. How did that happen?
After ‘Yeh Saali Aashiqui’, I was looking for films and that is when ‘Khuda Haafiz’ came to me. I auditioned for it, gave a couple of look tests. I was on cloud nine after the bagged the role. This was even before my debut film released so it was a huge thing for me. I am happy that got to be a part of such a great team.
How was Vidyut Jammwal as a co-star?
Vidyut is a super supportive co-star. He made me super comfortable on the sets. I loved working with him, he is very down to earth and humble. He is also very helpful and caring. He is on point with his fitness tips. It was a lovely experience working with him, I have learnt a lot from him.
Although the film and your performance received appreciation from all sides, do you feel a theatrical release would have made some difference for the good?
While shooting the film, we envisioned watching the film in the theatres. We missed promoting the film and meeting our fans and going to different cities. Nonetheless, during the pandemic, there was nothing much that could have been done. The film releasing during such a time is a huge thing. We as actors want the film to reach the maximum number of people and that is exactly what happened with Khuda Haafiz. The response was incredible.
How excited are you for the second installment of the film? What different can your fans expect this time?
I am super excited to be a part of ‘Khuda Haafiz 2’ and I can’t wait to start shooting for it. I feel this is all because of the love and appreciation that the audiences have showered upon us. I feel grateful and blessed.
The film is in the scripting stage so we all will have to wait for a while. But I definitely feel that the audiences are in for a lot more entertainment and a lot more of Sameer and Nargis on screen.
‘Khuda Haafiz’ is already in the pipeline. I will start shooting for it early next year. I have been reading some great scripts. Apart from this, I have also been giving auditions. Hopefully, I will be able to share more things when things are a little more concrete.