May 17, 2010


Four big brand endorsements and a new film with Sudhir Mishra — Chitrangda Singh is here to stay!

You are all over TV! How did this brand-endorsing spree start?

Well, that’s some kind of divine connection I can’t talk about. (Laughs.) Just good times, man! Touch wood... it’s pretty good.

Four major endorsements back to back. Did they just discover you or have you just been saying ‘yes’ for a change?

There were offers before but there were not from the kind of credible brands I wanted to associate myself with. So I didn’t take them on. I waited and that wait has been good for me.

Why these four brands?

The first that I got was Garnier. L’Oreal being the mother company, it’s something that has been around for many years. And it was a great offer. They were coming out with a new product and they wanted me to be the face of that. Then there was Aliva which was from Pepsico. That was fantastic again. Pepsi is huge and they were coming up with crackers that were baked and weren’t high on fact. That was good because I myself wouldn’t be bingeing on too oily stuff as it’s a professional hazard or whatever. Then there was Taj Mahal Tea. There was Saif on it already. It was a different offer given the fact that only people like Zakir Hussain and Saif have endorsed the brand. And now there’s Parachute. My god, I never thought I am going to get that. It was completely out of the blue. They usually go in for very bubbly, girlie teenager stuff. But they were very keen to have me on board.

How different was it shooting for an ad as opposed to a movie?

Things had to be really quick. You had to pack in everything in those 15-20 seconds. There’s just no time. Also, they are extremely finicky about sticking to the script. On a movie set you get more freedom. You can change your lines and you can move about differently. But here you can’t. In those few seconds they want to make the exact impression of the brand that they want and they, of course, arrive at that script and those words after a lot of thought and surveys. So, it does feel a bit restrictive and you have to compress everything.

Coming to movies, what was your first reaction when your mentor Sudhir Mishra approached you again after Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi for his new film Dil Darbadar?

We did want to do another project (Aur Devdas) in between but that didn’t happen because I was shooting for Sorry Bhai!. So, I was so glad that he could offer me another role. I was very happy because the character I was offered was also very nice. It’s about this girl who is in love with this man who probably is not in love with her as much. That she figures only when she is trying to save him from trouble. That I found to be very interesting. Also, I get to play a bit of guitar and sing a couple of songs. It’s nice.

Dil Darbadar is opposite Irrfan Khan. Is that intimidating as an actor?

He’s a powerhouse. Around him you feel like an absolute student... to be honest. He’s amazing to work with. He definitely brings a lot more to a scene, in terms of the suggestions he has or even the questions he has. Even though I did try to learn as much as I can, it wasn’t easy. All he had to tell me was that if you spend 19 years in the industry, you will know everything by then. So don’t worry. (Laughs.)

Between Hazaaron and Dil Darbadar, what’s changed in you the actor?

As far as the actor-director exchange is concerned, I think, this time it was a lot more interactive. Hazaaron... was my first film. So I had no questions and Sudhir would just explain to me the emotional graph and he would tell me what’s happening before and after and I would just take it from there and do it. Here now, we would actually discuss a scene and where that scene would take the character. I would say it’s a bit of maturing of me as an actor. So, that definitely changed. I had a couple of suggestions about a couple of scenes which he found very interesting. I was thinking all the time and not just reacting. Also, as an actor I felt very comfortable. But at the same time I had to be very careful that you don’t try and play too smart just because you know a little. The innocence of the performance shouldn’t go away.

You haven’t done a lot of films yet but is it fair to say that Sudhir Mishra brings out the best in you?

So far, yes. I would say that. Absolutely. And I think he would do that for a lot of actors because it’s the way he directs. He approaches everyone differently.

Is it true that you had differences on the sets over guitar-playing?

I am so glad that there were some differences in opinion and I was not just saying yes to everything he was saying. But there was nothing ugly or unpleasant about it, as was reported. The only thing was that I had to be careful with the character I was playing. She is not a rockstar, she is a struggling musician and there’s a difference in the way a struggling musician performs and a rockstar would. We corrected it and Sudhir was right in the way he saw the character. I agreed with him finally and that’s that.

Have you signed a full-blown commercial film opposite Akshay Kumar?

Absolutely not. I don’t know where these stories start from. The only other film I am doing is Azaan, produced by Mani Ratnam and directed by his assistant Shiva and it has Vivek Oberoi with me.

Do you feel you need to do more mainstream films, with big stars and big box-office openings?

I don’t feel that it is a necessity for me to do absolute commercial films. But I want to do good films and it’s not to say that good films are not commercial films. Definitely commercial films reach out to a more mass audience. It’s not like I want to keep performing for a niche audience. That’s not my idea at all. The bottomline, though, is good films and if a big film allows me to remain an actor, why not?

No chances of disappearing again?

(Laughs out loud.) I will keep everybody guessing! No, no, no, no... I am here to stay and I am having a good time. So there’s no way....

Pratim D. Gupta