Yashaswini Dayama Curated
Actor and singer.
CURATED BY :
Any advice to all the girls who want to come to Mumbai and make it big in the film industry?
Any advice to all the girls who want to come to Mumbai and make it big in the film industry?
Are you serious about acting, since you keep talking about singing?
How different are you and Ray?
Was Adulting challenging or was Delhi Crime?
How was shooting Phobia and Dear Zindagi?
How did Dear Zindagi happen?
How did Filter Copy and Dice Media happen?
Isn't it weird that your entire family is full of actors but you never thought of getting into the film industry?
How did you know you could sing?
When did you realize you had film industry level talent?
How is your role in 'The Odds'?
I spent my entire childhood in the suburbs, and The Odds gave me the lovely opportunity to see how other people have grown up in the city. Shooting in places that Megha (the director) used to go to as a child helped me understand that you can have a natural childhood in the city.
Tell us what happened when you got your first role in Phobia.
I got a lecture from my teachers about leaving education for a career in acting, but at that point, I thought acting would only be short-lived, and that everybody would realise that I was a fraud.
Did you always consider acting as your career?
I was awkward and shy, and it would take me hours to warm up to a new situation. I hated being in the spotlight. In fact, academia had seemed like a more plausible career track, given that my mother and grandfather had both taught at St Xavier’s College, where I completed my undergraduate studies. In fact, my aunt was my political science professor. So, I enrolled for a Master’s in political science soon after graduating. I went for two classes before dropping out. By this time, a more outgoing personality (thanks to college) and a haircut (it gave me a new look) gave me the courage to audition for advertisements and small roles.
Are you always approached for young/student type roles?
Once someone called me for an ad without seeing my picture. It was for the role of a mother, and they were shocked when I walked in. I was initially concerned about it, but now I’m comfortable doing what works.
What do you think about film today?
The world of entertainment has changed a lot. The endgame is not Bollywood anymore. In fact, there is no endgame. It’s ultimately the story and how accessible it is.
What do you think of the new branches in the industry apart from cinema?
When I was growing up, if I wanted to be an actor, it meant Bollywood, but now when you are growing up at this time, there are so many different branches of this industry and it’s not necessarily less than Bollywood. Bollywood is definitely still up there because it can give you crazy superstardom but you can probably get the same if you do a crazy Netflix show maybe. That’s the power of OTT. It can still give you the superstardom, there are many more ways to satisfy the keeda inside you.
What do you feel about being typecast in the film industry?
Honestly, I wouldn’t call it being typecast at least in my head in my journey. All the schoolgirl roles, which you want to put under one umbrella, is different to me. At some point, I felt nostalgic because I was out in the real world, I was trying to become an adult, I just wanted to crawl back into my shell and go back to school. And then I got these opportunities where I can be a schoolgirl, so it felt very serendipitous to me, and I knew at some point I was going to be told ‘arey ye to khali school girl ke roles krrhi h’
Tell us one fun fact about you, other than the fact that you have to stand on boxes in movies.
I’m very humble. Also, I feel like I can be very appealing or very annoying, both at the same time.
Your Instagram says you love polaroid pictures, so pick a favorite one.
They are all my favorite. I am still trying to take good pictures. But if I had to absolutely pick one, I think one of my favorite ones is during my niece’s birthday party. Our entire family was there, and in the picture, I am half covering my uncle’s face. It’s in the centre of my board, and it’s special to me.
You are a people's person, but what do you enjoy doing in quiet hours?
Sitting like a potato on the couch and watching a movie, that’s what I do. I was doing the same thing before you called.
Who do you look up to in Bollywood and Hollywood?
Everyone. When you start working as an actor, you realize it’s not child play, and you start respecting every actor. My entire perspective of watching movies has changed. If I had to choose, I look up to Alia Bhatt, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Stone.
Did you have to face someone like Harvey Weinstein in Bollywood?
No, I have been very fortunate that I have never faced any such problem. I have been around such friendly people. It’s happened in my life but not work-related.
How do you envision your graph as an actor?
I had a tough month when nothing was panning out, but recently I shot a film. It’s my first film as a lead, but before that, I thought it was the end of me as an actor. Now, after shooting this movie with so many good actors around me, I feel like good things are starting to happen. A lot of stories are coming up, and new faces are being supported. Ultimately, I want to do movies like La La Land because I go everything or nothing.
Did you just randomly decide that you should go for an audition?
Actually, there are two people behind this, my mom and my friend. I went for a haircut after my graduation when I decided. ‘Haha, I am free of the world’s problems,’ and I cut my hair really short. Looking at that, my mom suggested that since I have such a fun look I should try my hand at modelling. Then one of my brother’s friends called me in for an ad audition, so I went for it. That’s how I did my first ad for Airtel 4G.
You say that you were a shy kid, so do you feel awkward acting in front of so many people?
If I were told to act five years ago, I would have failed horribly. When I was a kid, my brother was acting, both my father and my mother featured in shows, I was the only one who was sitting at home and acting like an average child. So, one day there was one ad which my mom was shooting with Rajat Kapoor, and I had an opportunity to act as his daughter, but I just cried, I was uncomfortable. But when I went to Xavier’s, it was a different experience, and it totally changed me. I grew as a person and started understanding myself. I accepted my quirks and everything around me. Being typical Xavierites, we interrupted the conversation to have a long talk about how much we miss that place. Then I remembered that I need to continue with the interview.
We have only seen what is in front of the camera, what does it look like behind the camera?
The director is the showrunner, the AD is running the shot, and there are 20 spot boys. Everything is so chaotic, but as soon as the director yells ‘rolling,’ everything comes to a standstill. It is hilarious because it’s like when someone screams statue and we all freeze in awkward positions. The first time I saw it, I felt a little internal giggle and excitement of being in the Hindi film industry.
Now that you are an ‘actor,’ have you picked up any acting skills from your parents?
No, we never sit down and specifically discuss it. At times when I have just come back from my shoot, I tell dad about what happened, and he suggests what I could have done differently. One of the things that I have learnt from dad is that it’s important to learn to “reboot” and give your everything, every single time. Everyone is working super hard and gets stressed out, and sometimes you’re around to see it, so as an actor it’s important to detach and not let it get to you. Sometimes, the camera is rolling, and you’re in the moment, and right before the director calls action, they have to cut because a light may have started flickering or there’s some music playing outside that’s getting caught by our mics.
What kind of challenges did you face during the initial days in this industry?
The challenge I initially faced and I think still face is being called an actor. People have worked so hard and gone up the ladder by accepting small roles and then got a big movie. They are actors. I have just been pulled into this alien world.
That sounds like a lot of fun! But were there any instances when you were intimidated to work with such big stars?
Definitely, but the one thing about both Radhika and Alia is they are really easy to work with. It doesn’t feel like you are meeting stars. This is their work, and they do it like a job, they don’t behave like big shots. Bollywood is a very glamourised career option. That star attitude doesn’t exist when you are on set, and it’s all about the emotion that you are trying to put across to your audience.
Tell me about one funny memory from the sets of Dear Zindagi.
I think the funniest would be when I met Kunal Kapoor for the first time. Alia and Kunal were practising their lines for eight hours, and I was just sitting there. After they had finished, they looked at me for my reaction, and I was just looking at him. This is when I told him that since VII standard I have been madly in love with him, and his response to it was very adorable. Another one was when Alia, Raunaq and I had to do a drunk scene and drinks are not really allowed on the set. But I do not know what it was, we really felt drunk. We were cracking lame jokes and tripping over beds and what not.
Do you have a cool nickname in real life, like you had in Dear Zindagi?
One of my friends calls me, Y-wini and that’s the only significantly different nickname. Others are just variations of my actual name.
Being a singer, were you ever part of a band?
No, I never had a band, I was a very shy kid, man! I did a lot of choir singing though. I never really saw an opportunity. In schools, we were never exposed to such culture. Years later, my brother introduced me to bands like Queen, and Whitney Houston too. Then in college, I did many solo singing performances.
Tell us about the first song you recorded.
Yeah, I was in the VII standard, and my mom had a very old family friend. She was recording jingles at that time. So, my first ever salary was of 1500 bucks for a jingle, so that was my first experience in a studio. Next, I sang for a radio campaign on child labor. My uncle had written the song.
Were you always given the freedom to choose your career or did your parents want you to pursue something else?
My parents always thought that I would become a singer. I never considered acting as a career option before.
What did you actually think of pursuing?
Didn’t you always want to be an actor, just like your father?
Not really. I was never the actor in the family. But my brother, since he was young, had started doing plays directed by Feroz Abbas Khan. My mom and dad would go along with him for all the shows abroad. I was never good at imitating anyone, I was kind of a quiet girl. All the nautanki in the family came from my brother, never me.