There’s a new kid on the Bollywood block. As actor Saif Ali Khan’s reluctant dad-daughter relationship drama ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ releases in the UAE on January 30, Gulf News tabloid! tracked down Alaya F, the daughter of Pooja Bedi and granddaughter of actor Kabir Bedi, in Mumbai to discuss her budding career and life. She plays estranged teenage daughter to Khan, a staunch bachelor who loves partying, woman and his decadent life. Here’s her take on ...
Her current state of mind as her first film ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ gears up for release:
“Each time I think about it, my heart skips at least a 5,000 beats. Those conflicting feelings are yet to fully sink in… I feel like I am giving birth and that the baby I was nurturing, feeding and taking care of is now going out into the open world… Now the world is going to have opinions about it. Though I am beyond excited, I am a bundle of nerves.”
“I did my high school in Bombay [Mumbai] and then I went to New York to study direction. During my course in direction, I realised that I had affinity towards acting and I found out that being in front of the camera was more fulfilling. That’s when I came back one summer and changed my major. From New York University, I shifted to New York Film Academy where I studied for one more year. Then, I trained for the next five years. Acting in a Hindi film is a different ball game altogether. I took diction classes and dance classes. I was a very bad dancer and that required a lot of work. I studied contemporary dance to classical like Kathak.”
#MeToo movement gathering momentum in Bollywood:
“I am aware of what’s happening. The #MeToo movement is a wonderful thing and I has empowered a lot of women who have gone through a lot in their line of work to speak up. I have been fortunate that I did not have to face any such issue. My sympathies are always with people who have to go through this. The more we talk about it, the more we will feel empowered to discuss it. We are heading in the right director. Everyone should feel safe in their work environment.”
Being a portrait of privilege as industry insider Pooja Bedi’s daughter:
“At the end of the day, the biggest statement on that will be you work. You can talk about your struggles to no end, but no one is going to care whether you trained for 14 hours a day or didn’t train at all. I definitely recognise and acknowledge privilege. But I auditioned for this part and I got through my agency. My grandfather [Kabir Bedi] or my mother was never there for a single photo shoot of mine or during a single scene of mine on the sets of ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’. I kept them away as much as possible consciously and they respect that. I want to do this by myself and for myself.”
Her being a rebel with a cause:
“It was assumed that I would be an actor, because my mother is an actress. Everyone expected that out of me. But it was I who eventually figured out that I wanted to be an actress. I had a great love for the world of films and camera from the beginning.”
Her first scene that she shot in her career:
“My first scene was complicated. It was that revelatory scene where I tell him [Saif Ali Khan] that he could be my father. So when I reached the sets on my first working day, Nitin sir [director] said: ‘no pressure, but let’s try to do the whole scene without any stops or cuts.’ It was a seven page scene that translated into a six-minute scene without any stops. My character paces up and down and I had to be careful that my face is in the right angle so that the light won’t catch it… They threw me in the deep end hoping I would swim and thankfully I did.”
Her method of madness:
“I over-prepare for every scene. Although I was told to be myself, I read the script to death. I had every word memorised and we had a lot of readings. I even compiled a playlist of the songs that my character could be listening to and decided on her Zodiac sign in my head. It’s a process because I love preparing. But when I am on the sets, I forget everything. I used my preparation as a crutch.”
Working with seasoned actors like Saif Ali Khan and Tabu:
“I thought I was going to be lost. But I was not as lost as I thought I would be because they never treated me like someone new. It was collaborative and director Nitin gave me instructions and feedback in the same way he gave it to Saif sir and Tabu ma’am.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ releases in the UAE on January 30. Watch the trailer below:
“They warned me about how fickle this industry is and that I should be prepared. Always be on your ‘A’ game and everything else will follow,” Aliya F on her mother Pooja Bedi’s wise words.