Suneil Shetty’s little girl talks about her experience of the film, her equation with Sooraj, Salman Khan’s impact and much more… Athiya Shetty is all set to make her dream debut in Hero before film’s release Athiya talks exclusively about her sharing the screen space with Sooraj Pancholi, Salman Khan as a producer amongst a lot of other things…
How and what do you feel about your dream debut Hero?
Yes, it’s a dream debut for me. Nikhil Advani has directed it and Salman Khan has produced it, so I think I couldn’t have asked for a better platform. Nikhil sir has been my most favourite director, ever since I understood the concept of a director. I loved Kal Ho Naa Ho. When I was younger, I conned my parents into thinking I have a number (eye power) just to wear the Naina glasses. I used to say ‘Mom, I really have a number. I cannot see, I cannot see.’ Finally, she got me those fake glasses and I used to wear them every day to school for a year. And Salman Khan is Salman Khan, he’s the biggest super star we have in our country and besides that he is most amazing person. So to have a mentor like him, I feel extremely blessed.
How was your experience while shooting the film?
My experience has only been positive. As a newcomer, you always stumble and fall. You have many problems, but you overcome them and look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture has been positive for me and I’ve learnt so much. I have made mistakes, but I understood and learnt things. I am thankful that I had such an amazing experience.
So how is Athiya Shetty as a person?
Athiya Shetty as a person is very quiet. I am a bit shy, I am not that out going. But once I get to know that person, then you’ve had it, I am quite crazy. I wish I was more like Radha because sometimes I feel that I am too realistic; I take things too seriously and take stress very easily.
You and Sooraj Pancholi share great chemistry onscreen. So tell us how close are you both in real life?
Sooraj and I are extremely close in real life. People usually think that they are two new comers, they have to be in love and they must be dating. But, we are not dating. We are very very close friends and we share this very honest and true friendship. I know he will always be there for me and he knows I will always be there for him. I am happy that we got so close in the process of this film. We were sailing in the same boat and we have gone through a lot in this film, from getting yelled at to crying together and to what not, so that’s why we are so close to one another. I love him as a person and that’s how it emulates on to the screen as well because we are so comfortable with each other and we are such great friends, so there is no awkwardness between and so it shows onscreen.
You are Suneil Shetty’s daughter, so you have acting in your blood and you were bound to follow in your father’s footsteps. But, when did you decide that you wanted to act?
I always wanted to act. Ever since I was three I was dancing to Madhuri Dixit ma’am’s Ek Do Teen, then tying sarees and doing Kajol’s Sooraj Hua Madham, imitating Poo in front of the mirror, so I always wanted to act and I was obsessed with movies. I used to see a movie every Friday. In school, I did a lot of theatre and drama in school, so acting has always been a part of me. I am a very creative person.
How did you come across Hero?
Hero came across very randomly. I used to go to a gym in Bandra and Salman sir’s sister saw me in the gym and we started speaking. She asked me what I want to do and I mentioned that I want to act. She told Salman sir about me and they were looking for a girl opposite Sooraj for Hero. As you know, Salman sir and my dad are extremely close and he spoke to my dad and that’s how it happened. Literally the next minute I was on the sets.
This film has action, romance and drama. So if you had to choose one particular genre out of the three, which would you want to do?
It has action, it has romance, it has dance, it has drama, it has passion, it has everything. I don’t know exactly which genre I want to work in currently. I want to do something that is emotionally driven, where my character has some emotional upheaval, not a tragedy but something else. It could be a love story too. Right now I actually want to work with really good directors as I need to learn a lot of things. A good director will be able to teach me a lot, so right now my main focus is to work with a great director, who’ll be able to take me ahead in terms of my craft.
The film is titled Hero, so tell us who is the current Hero of the industry?
Salman Khan, I don’t think there is a doubt about that.
Is there anything that you learnt from Salman Khan?
I have learnt so many things from Salman sir. He is such a special person, such a special human being that everybody just falls in love with him. He is so kind-hearted. He makes everyone feel special, no matter who you are. He has this quality that he can make you smile and laugh at any point of time. He is very professional and you feel very comfortable with him. I learn something from him everyday. Everyday I notice something different and I learn that.
And what have you learnt from your father?
I have learnt a lot from him too, but I hope that I can become the human being he is and the goodwill that he has in the industry. I hope I live up to his expectations and make him proud of me.
Quite recently you have been compared to Sonam Kapoor a lot. How do you react when you hear such comparisons?
Nobody can match up to Sonam Kapoor. She is amazing and she is on a different league. She is one of the most beautiful actresses we have in our generation right now. She can carry anything off, looking so beautiful effortlessly. I laugh when people compare me to Sonam Kapoor. That’s just impossible, she is in a different league and nobody can be compared to her.
People are also talking a lot about your style, tell us about your fashion mantra!
My fashion mantra is comfort. I need to be comfortable in what I am wearing and I need to dress according to my body type, I feel that is really important. If those two things are on point, then you have the confidence to carry out the outfit. I am very simple and I like to casual and minimalistic.
Tell us three things that we don’t know about Athiya Shetty.
You all know everything, what do you guys not know? (laughs) Three things that you don’t know about me are –
# I love food. Everybody thinks I don’t eat but I love, love food. I don’t know where it goes.
# I am a huge animal lover. I have lots of dogs at home.
# I always wanted to do sky diving and that’s something I have been waiting to do. I have not got the chance till now, but I want to do it.
The original film was very successful, so what is your expectations from this film?
Right now, I don’t know how well it will do at the box office. I also don’t know how my career will unfold from here, but I am just hoping to be accepted right now.
Have you got any other film offers?
I am reading a few scripts, but I have not signed on to anything yet. Right now, it is all about Hero,Hero and Hero…