By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 10, 2016
Shahana Goswami is back and we at OPENING DOORZ learn that she has been busy in Paris and London these past 5 years. “The work I thought I should be getting was not the work that I was getting. But I can’t stop myself about things I’m passionate about. Somewhere I realised I wanted to do work that excited me or do nothing at all,” says the actress who will be seen in Rock On 2 this Friday.
Martin D’Souza catches up with the girl who made Debbie a larger-than-life character in Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On.
Excerpts from an interview:
Another Goswami is in the news for his exit… but where did Shahana Goswami go?
Hahaha… I guess I went off to challenge myself more and get more out of life. I’d been doing mainly international films in the last five years and so I decided to move out of India to really push the boundaries and grow further, both professionally and personally. And so now I’m based in Paris and slowly beginning to make my way back into the industry here and in London.
You went away because it was it hard to get the roles you wanted or were you choosy?
All the roles I’ve played I’ve been lucky enough to have got without chasing after them. That is something I’m very grateful for. After some time though, I think I began to be typecast in films in India. It was always the friend, the sister, the ‘side character’. I don’t have a problem playing smaller parts but unfortunately in most Indian films, smaller characters are not fleshed out or interesting enough. I wanted a lot more from my career and I began to get work outside—once again without chasing after it.
So that explains your shift abroad…
I realised that I was learning and growing more from those films, from those experiences than I was being able to grow in India. I still would love to work with some people in India but the commerce of films may not justify having a low-key actor like me. Now I only wish to work with people who want to work with me because they see that I have something to offer.
But surely, you would have gotten good offers. Debbie, your character, was spot on!
I’m not good at the game of getting myself work. Or at least at that time I wasn’t. It is important to position yourself in the media, network within the industry, and present yourself in a certain way outside of your work, to generate interest in you. I was too naïve when it came to those things.
Jashn which came a year after Rock On saw you etch out another lovely character. You made the role of Nisha stand out…
Thank you. I really learnt a lot on that film thanks to Bhattsaab and Shagufta, the writer. Unfortunately, the film didn’t do well and no one knows of the film. But that’s life. The good thing about being an actor is that no one can take your journey and your growth away from you because that comes from the process and not from the outcome of the film.
Tell us something about your stint in Paris and London?
I have been busy with films and living my life! I’ve done 6 films in the last 5 years and a short film. It’s just that they don’t release in India because they are independent international films for a different audience. I’m hoping the last two films I’ve done will release in India that is Tu Hai Mera Sunday by Milind Dhaimade, and In The Shadows by Dipesh Jain. Besides that, I’ve done Midnight Children, Vara A Blessing, Force of Destiny and Under Construction, all of which have travelled extensively to various international festivals and won prizes and I’ve travelled with them.
Recently, I won Best Actress at the International Film Festival of Islantilla, Spain for Under Construction.
Rock On was your movie as much as it was of the actors who played the musicians in the film…
I think Debbie was a very well written character. She was real, she was pragmatic and also supporting her family and her husband while thwarting her own dreams. That kind of nuanced characters were not so common back then and I give the credit to Pubali the writer and to Abhishek Kapoor entirely. I was just lucky to have got the chance to play her. And then lucky again that she as a character was appreciated and understood and so I as an actor was also noticed.
Did you prepare hard for this role? I mean from a bubbly girlfriend to a nagging wife… your character was almost addictive…
I didn’t really prepare for it. It was just about understanding her and believing her journey and that was made so easy thanks to the writing and thanks to Abhishek who helped me through it with more and more belief. It was a spontaneous team effort I would say.
So are we going to see Debbie ‘unplugged’ in Rock On 2?
Well, you’ll see very little of Debbie. The film really is about the boys and their individual journeys with themselves and with their music. Debbie is there to support, to help but she’s already had her journey in the last film. Now it’s time for the younger generation.
Shooting for Rock On 2, what were the memories like… I mean you guys must have surely spoken about Rock On, reminiscing about those days…
It was a fantastic experience. So much nostalgia! We all remember things like it was yesterday. Shillong was beautiful and serene and added that magic in our times together.
What are your expectations from this film?
I think it’ll do very well. It’s taken off from where we left it off but has matured and grown, naturally, since it is 8 years later in the lives of the characters. This time the film is really about music and what it means to all the characters.
Abhishek set high standards, will Shujaat Saudagar match up to the original and take the plot forward?
I think so. They are two very different types of filmmakers and so the films will also be very different. But I think Shujaat has done a great job. And anyway even if the film does well, it will never take away from what Abhishek did with Rock On. Both films will have their own space.
And Joe Mascarenhas… has he mellowed?
[Smiles] Joe is Joe but he’s in a different phase of his life, with a different reality and that changes his way of looking at things. He has a very internal and very interesting journey. Arjun Rampal has once again done great justice to the part. As have all the other actors.