It has been six months since her intimate wedding, but Bollywood actress Yami Gautam continues to give off that radiant loved-up bride vibe.
Gulf News met the star exclusively on a closed-door set of a film shoot in Dubai and Gautam — who was dressed in a peach athleisure — told us that life has been ‘zooming at lightning speed’ with her eternally adoring husband, director Aditya Dhar, by her side.
“Getting married is one of the best decisions we have ever made,” said Gautam in a sit-down interview. She loves the idea of returning home to her new family and remembers a time when she used to get upset when her parents and her siblings returned from Mumbai after paying her a brief visit leaving her desolate in an ‘empty home’. But now she feels a greater sense of belonging, she adds.
In June last year, an incredibly private Gautam rolled out a few lush wedding pictures chronicling their marriage ceremony attended by select family members at her hometown in Himachal Pradesh, North India. It came as a pleasant surprise to her fans and her peers.
“I didn’t even realise that it has been six months to my wedding because I have been hopping from one set to another and from one city to another … The other day, Aditya was asking how my life has changed after our marriage considering he never gets to see me a lot,” said Gautam with a laugh. ‘Dasvi’, ‘OMG2’ and ‘Lost’ are just some of the projects that she has been juggling.
Gautam and Dhar worked together in the 2019 National Award-winning Indian feature ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ and Bollywood folklore has it that the two hit it off during the movie’s promotions. Both are different in temperaments, but their value systems match and that’s what attracted them to each other, says Gautam.
“We live in an era where being an actor and a director requires specific skill sets. But then you realise that you can have different interests and hobbies. But your core ethical values need to match … Even if I don’t believe in ‘opposites attract’ theory for couples, Aditya and I strongly believe in our families and its importance,” said Gautam.
Just like how Gautam is the portrait of a self-made star, who climbed the ranks of Bollywood through her own grit and merit, her better half has a similar struggle story.
“One of the things that I really admire and connect with Aditya is how he has had his own journey, his own struggles, his own obstacles … But he held his own with integrity and that’s very essential to me,” said Gautam. While acting as a profession is her ultimate passion, she doesn’t believe that it’s the absolute be-all, and end-all of her existence.
Yami's fight to remain relevant:
After her stellar debut in 2012 with ‘Vicky Donor’, a dramedy starring an on-point Ayushmann Khurrana and directed by Shoojit Sircar, Gautam has worked hard to remain relevant and to stay in the public’s collective consciousness. She was brilliant in her role as an endearing young wife who’s perplexed to learn about her husband’s successful but surreptitious sperm donation side job when she’s dealing with infertility in her own marriage.
Gautam famously played that role with grace, vulnerability and a ton of inner strength, but not all her subsequent films were memorable.
The result? A mixed bag of a career filled with hits, the nationalist pride-evoking ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ and enjoyable comedy ‘Bala’ and misadventures like the unfunny horror comedy ‘Bhoot Police’.
“Acting is one of the most challenging professions because everything is so out there. Even if you are not in the best phases of your life, those moments are between you and just a handful of people. We are so exposed to the world and everything around us. You are constantly being judged,” said Gautam, adding that the camera is one of the most merciless tools out there. It catches your fakeness even before you can realise it, she points out.
“Perceptions about you are changing every Friday in this industry. Friendship changes every Friday and everything about your career is dependent on that Friday,” said Gautam alluding to the day of the week when a Hindi film traditionally releases in cinemas in India. An actor’s stock within the industry and outside of it crashes or soars depending on the box office reception following their movie releases on Fridays.
“Things just changed suddenly. The year ‘Bala’ and ‘Uri’ were released, those films resurrected me creatively … That’s what I wanted to be right after my first film. But there’s a journey where your experiences don’t work out that way … I have been part of films where my heart and mind were not just in it, and I knew it wasn’t working for me! But I still went ahead,” said Gautam.
Unlike the privileged actors and star kids that are flooding the Bollywood landscape, Gautam has always banked on her merit instead of her connections to forge ahead in her career.
“It’s very easy for people to ask why there was a need for me to do a film … But remember, you don’t know that person’s journey. You don’t know what’s happening around him or her … It’s all trial and error,” said Gautam. She has always tried to do versatile roles, but Bollywood functions on its own beats and tunes.
But even if a film like ‘Bhoot Police’, which was universally panned, didn’t turn out as expected, Gautam claims she isn’t one of those actors who will ever turn her back on a failed mission. She describes herself as a collaborator who is keenly aware that a film is a director’s medium.
“This is like a game where you have to be really patient. You must be resilient, and you have to keep coming back every day … A successful film doesn’t guarantee work either, but keeping yourself motivated and inspired is the biggest challenge. “
Although she’s her biggest critic, she always reminds herself to pat her 22-year-old simple self on the back when she chose ‘Vicky Donor’ as her acting debut. She’s just relieved that she had the sensibility to choose well.
Just like most artists, she has grappled with days where she’s been filled with self-doubt and existentialist angst. Apparently, this Chandigarh-born talent had aimed to qualify for Indian Administrative Service — a government job — but ended up being an actress.
“But I came here to Bollywood with a very fearless mind … Sometimes we tend to be very harsh on ourselves and we forget to give ourselves enough credit.”
Gautam is always fatalistic about her success and doesn’t dwell on the negatives. Ask her if she feels bad about nepotism thriving in Bollywood and she gives a diplomatic response.
“I don’t defend it [nepotism], nor do I feel the need to defy it. I will be wasting my own time if I do that … I have always generated opportunities for myself based on my acting abilities and how professional I am.”
“The perks of marrying Aditya Dhar are more than just getting acting jobs in his films."
“That word has always haunted me … So, I learned how to create opportunities and generate acting jobs by being a good performer and actor.”
“I got a phenomenal response … I had girls who spoke to me and said that her boyfriend always wondered how actresses and models have this perfect skin and all. But those are impossible beauty standards that dictate that women should look a certain way.”