Yami Gautam, Reaching Zen

As opposed to sharp and edgy characters that she is playing of late, Yami Gautam, in her latest cover shoot with FHM India, shows us her calmer side.

 

Yami Gautam, it seems, never gets tired of learning. She manages to imbibe something positive from every co-star and director who she works with. We caught up with her as she readies herself for the release of her film Uri. Switching her zen mode on, she answers some riveting questions about her evolution as an actor and as a human being, and why she feels that she will always be a student in the school of life. We wonder has she already found nirvana? Edited excerpts from the interview:

Q- This is your second time as FHM India cover. Since the last time we worked with you in 2014, how have you evolved as a person and as an artist?
A- It takes time for a person to evolve. We should always be open to learn new things. At the same time, it is important to retain your own personality, your own flair. I think since the last time I was on the cover of FHM India, I have grown more comfortable in my skin and also evolved as a person. I am still evolving. Over time, I have come to realise that being confident and comfortable about one’s own self is self taught.

Q- Even though your father is a director in the Punjab film industry, it seems you have had to carve a space for yourself in Bollywood.
A- While dad was into documentary making, I never thought that I would become an actor one day. I come from a very cushioned and secured environment in Chandigarh. I was always good at studies and wanted to join civil services, but as fate would have it, dad and I, even though we do something similar, we are on our own paths.

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I was always good at studies and wanted to join civil services, but as fate would have it, dad and I, even though we do something similar, we are on our own paths.

Q- You have acted in several South Indian films, but only a couple of Punjabi films. Why is that?
A- I am not a trained actor. When I started out, my only objective was to do a good job in whatever I was doing, be it the films that I signed or the commercials. I started my career mainly with roles in several commercials. The roles down south, which you speak of, were mostly cameos, and so were the roles in my dad’s films. It has always been about work, and giving the best that my ability would allow. All of these things were baby steps to Vicky Donor as well as what I am doing today.

Q- You have worked with actors across a wide spectrum. From Ayushmann Khurrana in Vicky Donor to Amitabh Bachchan and Amit Sadh in Sarkar 3. How varying were the experiences?
A- I never saw it as a spectrum to be honest. From all the people that I have worked with, be it Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal, Amit Sadh, and of course, Amitabh Bachchan, my objective was always to learn something from them, and learn something about the kind of characters they play, how do they approach a role, their methodologies. I have been very lucky that I have had the opportunity to work with such amazing people, some really great actors and directors, so early in my career. I see life as a journey, and on this journey, I believe I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to do as well.

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I see life as a journey, and on this journey, I believe I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to do as well.

Q- Kaabil was moving and your portrayal of Su Bhatnagar was endearing. How did you prepare yourself mentally for such an intense role?
A- I don’t know how would one quantify and measure such a thing. You can’t really measure it. I believe it’s the end results that ultimately count. With Kaabil, I was trying to make the character of Su, my own. I did attend workshops and practiced tango that too with someone like Hrithik Roshan, who is an exceptionally gifted dancer. It is difficult to stand out if you are around someone as immensely talented as him. What I realised during Kaabil, was that homework is indeed important, and every actor should prepare for a role. However if you don’t have the right synergy on the set, it is useless. Luckily, we had a great synergy while shooting, and everybody shared their knowledge, their experience and insights very freely. It was a very consorted and consolidated team work, and that is evident from the way the film performed.

Q- Let’s talk about the #MeToo movement. There have been some bizarre comments from many established artists against the people coming forward to share their experience. Your take?
A- I have a gripe with the media on this. Do we need to give negative comments that shame the victims so much attention? I think it’s better not to give them any kind of a limelight. Let’s not highlight them and dilute the significance of this movement, or for that matter, any such movement.

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Let’s not highlight them and dilute the significance of this movement, or for that matter, any such movement.

Q- You seem picky when it comes to scripts. At this stage of your career, you are veering towards very serious roles now. You play a lawyer in Batti Gul Meter Chalu, and an army officer in Uri. Are you done with light hearted films?
A- Vicky Donor dealt with a very serious issue. However, it was done in a funny and quirky way. Uri is a commercial and entertaining film. However, it is of great significance for the narrative of Indian politics and the Indian armed forces. I strive to be a versatile actor and I think my work shows that. As far as I am concerned, I am not done with anything. I am open to new challenges and new kinds of roles. We have an influx of new writers and directors, who have some really interesting stories to tell. I think, the audience, too, has realised the value of a good film, something that they can relate to, something that they can connect with. Genre, I think does not figure that much into the equation now. People want to be surprised.

Q- Vicky Kaushal is a great actor, Ronnie Screwvala a great producer and Aditya Dhar is a fantastic director. How do you create the synergy required for a film as critical as Uri?
A- I am not rigid in the way I work. I don’t think anyone of us can afford to be that way. For me, it is always the director’s vision and approach that takes precedence. You have to understand that it is a team effort. Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal are phenomenally talented and hardworking actors. Aditya Dhar is a fantastic director and Ronnie Screwvala is a great producer, who has given us some really good content driven films. This is perhaps one of the best teams that I have ever worked with. It wasn’t just the role or the concept of the film that drew me in. It was the entire package, so to say — the focus, the clarity of thought and the passion, everything was at the centre.

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It was the entire package, so to say — the focus, the clarity of thought and the passion, everything was at the centre.

Q- Whenever a film has more than one strong female character, people assume that there would be a lot of tension between takes. There were rumours that you and one of your co actors from Batti Gul Meter Chalu had a falling out. How irritating are such rumours for you? Why do you think people still carry that stereotype?
A- I am not aware of any such thing ever happening. I had a great time while working on Batti Gul Meter Chalu and I am sure everyone else too had a great time. I believe that the audience is smart. They will be able to infer if there were any such issues during the filming. For something to be irritating there needs to be a semblance of truth to it. Because there is none, I am not bothered by it. But, I don’t get why anyone would plant such a rumour. What do they get out of it? It seems to be petty. 

Q- Tell us smething about your fitness regime? Did you train hard for Uri?
A- In Uri, I play an Intelligence Officer, and unlike Vicky’s (Kaushal) role, who plays a ground operative, my role is not as physically demanding. Aditya needed me to have a sharp and sophisticated look. It was not very challenging physically. For my regular fitness, I like following different regimes. I do a bit of functional training, TRX, kickboxing and a bit of pole dancing.

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I do a bit of functional training, TRX, kickboxing and a bit of pole dancing.

Q- What does a day in the life of Yami Gautam look like when she is not shooting?
A- I just sit back and relax, like any normal person would. When I am not shooting or working on some project, I like to watch films, cooking something that I like to eat, have some friends comeover, watch Netflix and have an easy and relaxed day. I also like to watch the sunset, while sitting in my balcony, have a cup of coffee, and of course, work out sometimes.

Q- What are your plans for the New Year?
A- To be honest, I don’t know yet. Maybe, I will be working on my next project. Otherwise, I will be at home, with my family, have some cake and dinner. I am a homely person and cannot be pegged as a party person. One thing that I do enjoy though is watching the fireworks. Maybe I will just do that.

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One thing that I do enjoy though is watching the fireworks. Maybe I will just do that.

Q- 2019 will start with a bang for you, given Uri’s release. What else does the year ahead have for you?
A- The year is still not over yet! There are many things that this year still has to offer. I realise that it may not always be the case, but I hope to challenge myself even further, play some really great characters and work with some amazing people. I am a ’90s kid at heart and enjoy all kind of films, so I am open to everything that stimulates me.

Q- Given that this is our party and grooming special, how would you like a man to dress up, if he were to go on a date with you?
A- I don’t think it really matters what a man is wearing. Whatever he is comfortable with, he should wear that, be it a casual tee and denim or a suit. What really sets a man apart is the manner in which he carries himself, even if he is in a track suit. Confidence and the kind of a man that you are, I think that is what attracts people to you.

Q- If you had a time machine, which era would you like to go back to and why?
A- I think the 1970s was a great time, very interesting. Not only was it more stylish and had more character, it was a much simpler time. We, in terms of our culture were not that globally affected back then. Plus, our lives were not so dependent on technology back then. Everything was much more simple and pristine.

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We, in terms of our culture were not that globally affected back then. Plus, our lives were not so dependent on technology back then.

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