Sayani Gupta has successfully straddled between mainstream and independent cinema but hasn’t accepted an commercial projects recently due to time constraints.
“I have done ‘Margarita with a Straw’, ‘Parched’ with ‘Jagga Jasoos’, ‘Jolly LLB 2’, ‘Baar Baar Dekho’. I have been able to balance. But in the last one and a half year, I did not have a single day off. I was doing ‘Four More Shots’, I did a British series and then I did two films. I had no time. You need to have time to say yes. I don’t have the dates.
“I did ‘Article 15’ because one of my films got cancelled. In the commercial space in the last year, I haven’t got anything that is super exciting for me to do. I have said no to three big films that are yet to be released because the roles were not meaty,” Gupta said.
After ‘Mulk’, director Anubhav Sinha offered Gupta a farcical comedy, but things did not work out and then ‘Article 15’ happened.
“He liked my work in ‘Jolly LLB 2’ and since then we both have been wanting to work with each other for a while. Things were not working. Even this time when ‘Article 15’ came up I had a Bengali film already in my hand. But I got to know that the Bengali movie is not happening and my dates just freed up,” she said.
According to Gupta, Sinha was initially a bit apprehensive to cast her as a Dalit woman in the crime drama, after her glamorous role in web series ‘Four More Shots’.
The film, featuring Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead, is based on Article 15 of the Indian Constitution which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Gupta says Sinha has presented an honest take on discrimination through the film.
“When I was reading the script, I couldn’t put it down, I was crying, smiling, was overjoyed and very rarely you come across a script that you feel really grateful to be part of it. He had written the story with so much honesty and right intent,” she said. “It is an entertaining investigative drama, which is funny, satirical, heartbreaking at some places. It was a tight script. He has a balanced way of looking at it.”
The actress said discrimination of any sort should be eradicated for a country to progress.
“It should be part of our day-to-day dialogue, conversation and awareness. You have to take care of those who are in less advantage position and you have to ensure their children are taken care of,” she said. “A country can develop only when you ensure these basic rights, let them voice their opinion and give them basic education, hygiene, medication, portable water and when you empower that is true development. They can’t be exploited.”
Gupta also praised her co-star Khurrana.
“Ayushmann has single-handedly changed this narrative. You are no longer depended on a huge star for the film to do well, you are actually successfully able to market a film where you have the content.
“If content is the king, then Ayushmann is the ruler of that kingdom. He has an understanding of a good script. From ‘Vicky Donor’ till now, he has chosen interesting stories that he would have like to watch as an audience.”
She is happy with more and more actors signing up for content-driven films.
“People like Ayushmann, Rajkummar Rao, Vicky Kaushal, Radhika Apte, Alia Bhatt and now Deepika Padukone, who is doing ‘Chhapaak’, they all are now doing films that have great content. It is a great moment for us. It is a positive growth for the industry,” she said.