Chhalaang. With Chorrii, she proved her mettle as a performer. In a conversation with BT, Nushrratt talks about her growth as an actor, pushing her boundaries with Chhorii and making brave career choices. Excerpts:
You have been winning a lot of praise for your performance as a heavily pregnant woman in Chhorii. What were your expectations when you agreed to be a part of this film?
I can’t tell you if I expected anything in particular from Chhorii because it is such a layered film. People didn’t know that it’s not just a horror flick, as eventually, it turns into an emotional subject (with a social message). I could not predict what the audience would feel. I could only hope that they are able to understand the message beyond the supernatural things they see in the film. The reality that we show in the film about what human beings are capable of doing to other human beings is scarier than a supernatural or a paranormal presence. People have come back with responses that indicate that they were deeply moved and impacted by its message apart from being scared. I am happy that it has hit the right chord.
How challenging was this film for you? What was the biggest takeaway from this project?
It was an extremely challenging role because I didn’t know what it was like to be pregnant. I didn’t know what it is to have maternal instincts. I did a lot of research and homework to play a heavily pregnant woman because if people could not connect to the character and believe that she is eight months pregnant, the film would fall flat. I live off this nervous energy. If I am not constantly nervous and questioning myself, then I will never actually find out whether I am going wrong. The biggest takeaway has been that I have learnt to surrender myself completely to a director, a story and a character. After 28 days of the uninterrupted shoot in the sugarcane fields, I had forgotten that I was Nushrratt. It took me two months to get back to my routine life once I was home. The scenes in the film where you see me cry on screen were too heavy for me, and I was actually crying while filming them. As Sakshi, I had grasped all the emotions and let it take over me. Also, it takes me a while to get these characters out of my system after the film’s shoot. It took me two months to let go of Sakshi. When you take on such characters, you have these emotional triggers, and if you don’t start cutting them out of your system, then they can crop up anytime, which is not good for an actor’s mental health.
What’s been the best compliment you received for Chhorii?
The fact that I have had people calling me and telling me that with Chhorii, I made them cry touched me. So far, through my films, I have only made my audience laugh or made them hate me or entertained them. But this time around, people told me that as Sakshi, I took them on an emotional journey that made me feel proud. People have told me that we did not expect to cry while watching this film, but you made us cry. This has been the biggest compliment for me.
With Chhorii, do you feel more confident as an actor to make braver career choices?
I have always been somebody who wants to take up challenging roles. Not that I have always been confident. I have pretty much second guessed myself on an everyday basis. I haven’t been to an acting school or learnt to act formally. The only thing I have fallen back upon is my learning-on-the-job mantra. It is through workshops and narrations I learn about my character. There is a certain joy in discovering your character on the go. Just like Chhorii, every film and character of mine has given me a certain confidence to take up something interesting in the future. The next film that I am going to announce will leave everyone surprised. Today, I am in such a phase of my career that it is not about me choosing something, but things are just happening to me. I feel the universe is coming together and is turning my thoughts into reality. Among my forthcoming projects, I am a part of a film that has a social message attached to it, while another film is completely out-of-the-box. I am doing a massy entertainer like Janhit Mein Jaari and then there is Ram Setu, which I am proud to be a part of.