Arun and Ravi Desai with actress Sanya Malhotra
(L-R): Ravi Desai, Director, Mass and Brand Marketing (Amazon India), actress Sanya Malhotra and Arun Sirdeshmukh, Head, Amazon Fashion (India) at the launch of the #HarPalFashionable campaign in Bangalore.

It’s not often when a star visits an Amazon office, so when Sanya Malhotra of Dangal and Badhaai Ho fame came to our Bangalore office recently, it was a packed house! And the minute RJ Danish Sait sat down with her for a fireside chat, Sanya won hearts with her endearing candour. Right from unabashedly promoting her film Photograph for which she has been nominated for a Filmfare Award to saying “I am wearing this dress because I recently bought it and it’s new,” Sanya’s soft-spoken demeanor coupled with these straight--from-the-heart answers, was a fresh change from the rehearsed answers that we so often hear in the film world.

The journey

Speaking about her journey in B-town, Sanya said that her parents supported all the way. “I decided to come to Mumbai to pursue my dreams and my parents were okay with it. I am a trained ballet dancer and thought I will take part in a dance show, win the show and then a director will see and films will be offered to me,” she said as she broke into a laugh adding, “Well, that didn’t happen! So I started doing ads, auditioned for roles and Dangal was my first. And though at the time I didn’t know it was for Dangal, I somehow felt I had done it right and well. So I told my roommates that I am there in the film. Well, aisa kuch nahin hua! But then some days later, I got a phone and came to know that I got shortlisted – with like 30 others! After a month of intense training, workshops, gymming etc finally I got the part.” The rest as they say is history.

“I thought I will take part in a dance show, win the show and then a director will see and films will be offered to me...well, that didn’t happen!”

Dangal days

Looking back on the film, Sanya said that film was possible only because of passion of Aamir Khan and of course the grueling training sessions. “We were trained by a national level wrestling trainer, Kripa sir for almost a year. For six days a week, we trained 3 hours for wrestling and 2 hours of fitness training. Initially, I think I used to look rather graceful doing kushti which is when Kripa sir would say, ‘Kushti karo…dance nahi,” she laughed and then added, “Well, ultimately we all got it right!”

“I am always online and on Amazon shopping for something.”

On Aamir Khan

As Sanya is slowly but carving her own niche in B-town, ask her about her first mentor of sorts Aamir Khan and she says, “You know I think the term perfectionist for him is slightly negative. He is just very passionate about his work and that is what reflects in his style of working and yes ultimately the film. In fact, even today I remember the advice he gave us when we were to walk the red carpet after Dangal was a hit. While we were fretting about what to wear, he told us to wear what we are comfortable in and to be ourselves. That is advice I take seriously!”

Probably Sanya’s simplicity stems from this advice because when asked what her fav fashion accessory was, she touched her neck said, “A gold chain…!” She then broke into laughter and said “But this is a fake gold chain! Yeah I have a lot of them – fake ones that I wear because I am so scared I will lose the real gold ones. And yes I purchase these on Amazon!”

Before she left, she did answer some rapid fire questions. Excerpts below:
What are pressures of being a star?
I don’t take pressure. I am what I am. When you enjoy work, you don’t feel the pressure.
Who are your style icons?
Sonam Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Kangna Ranaut, Amitabh Bachchan
Who is your favourite designer?
Shantanu Nikhil, Naresh Shivan
What is your favorite attire?
White shirt, blue jeans, white shoes, chappals!
Is it hard to be nice to fans?
I like when people come up to me and ask for autographs, selfies. I am living my dream – why should it hard to be nice?
Your inspiration:
Shah Rukh Khan. Like me he is also from Delhi, made a career from scratch in Mumbai – it’s the kind of story I identify with
What role would like to play which you haven’t done?
That of a psychopath!
Do you shop online?
I am always online and on Amazon shopping for something. From TV, fridge, phone, and grocery…even my fav fake gold chains – I shop a lot.