Athiya Shetty’s previous releases, Hero and Mubarakan, saw her in a typical Bollywoodish avatar, not very different from what other up and coming female leads were doing. But with her soon-to-be-released, Motichoor Chaknachoor, Athiya is taking a giant leap of faith. Unlike her previous outings, of which her debut—Hero—failed while the other managed a decent turnover, Motichoor Chaknachoor will see her play a small-town girl keen on bagging a groom who works in ‘videsh’.
Athiya has been cast opposite the extremely talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui. For a three-film-old actor, it is indeed daunting. “I have seen his works and I was very nervous when I had to face the camera with him. I realised I need to be extremely prepared to measure up to his standards. I worked on my diction and did a lot of workshops, and half the battle was won. That prompted me to have fun with my character.”
She goes on to say that their outdoor shoot in Bhopal for 45 days was a fulfilling experience as an actor. “Nawaz sir is not only a very intense actor but also extremely supportive. I learnt a lot from him, like how to keep comedy subtle.”
Athiya reveals that its her parents—actor Suniel Shetty and wife Mana Shetty—who instilled confidence in her to walk the path less trodden and not be burdened with failures. “My dad would never bring his failures home. At home, he was my dad, strong and confident. He is always the rock star at home. There were definitely many ups and downs in his life, but he never let them reach us.”
Though Athiya claims that marriage is definitely not on the cards in the near future, funnily enough in all her box office outings—including the upcoming one—she ends up getting married onscreen. “Marriage is nowhere in my scheme of things. Even my parents are not keen on me marrying right now. I definitely believe in the institution of marriage because I have seen my parents and grandparents have successful married lives and there is so much love around me. Most of my school friends are already married but I have no such plans yet. On a lighter note, I don’t think my dad will ever let me leave the house!”
About Motichoor Chaknachoor, the young actor says, “This is not a romantic film at all. The girl is very clear that she wants to get married and go abroad. She just wants to live abroad. On the other hand, the boy just wants to get married, and any girl would do for him. They both have different motives. It’s a film that you can watch with family.”
Athiya may be an actor, but she knows what life is beyond all the glitz and glamour. She has worked with her maternal grandmother Vipula Kadri in her NGO and says, “She has had a great impact on my life with the kind of work that she does. I used to visit her NGO after school and college and have worked with girls saved from trafficking, or those who are specially-abled. Even my paternal grandfather and grandmother have been a huge influence on me. I used to go to the market to buy vegetables with my grandfather. That’s the kind of life I have led.”
As the interview draws to an end, Athiya says wistfully, “Someday I would love to work with my father— a screen version of the relationship we share.”