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Spoonfeedin WOrld

Entertainment – Q&A Shenaz

Gayatri Kolwankar

Let’s start with your childhood… what was it like?
Being the daughter of a Merchant Navy captain, I have spent the early years of my life traveling the globe on board cargo ships that carried potatoes, onions and rice. I was even conceived on the ship. I learned to swim before I could walk and my day consisted of swimming on the ship and fishing from the deck. I had no friends of my age because I was the only child on board and when I saw a kid my age, I used to get very excited. I shall never ever forget almost getting kidnapped while climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Kidnapped… that must be an interesting story!
My mother befriended a French woman who couldn’t have kids; then while climbing down the tower, she held me, looked at mum coldly, and said, ‘I have to take her. You can have more children, I can’t.’ In typical filmi style my mother ran after her, snatched me away from the crazy lady and made a run for it. My mum was a teacher who taught me the basic kindergarten stuff on the ship. But soon, I had to go ashore and be enrolled into school. And so, my mother and I made our home on dry land, while my dad continued to sail. Such a colorful upbringing has its advantages as well as drawbacks. I had traveled around the world and had seen so much more than any other child my age. However, I didn’t know how to interact with children and was a bit too mature. I once met a little boy in Indonesia when I was four, and I chased him around his home trying to kiss him. He ran for his life! And I wept all night wondering why he didn’t like me. That was also my first experience with the opposite sex—permanently damaging!
Did you know early on that you wanted to be an actress?
When I was finally put into school, I was very quiet, shy and dreamy, not knowing how to interact with children my age. That dreaminess soon found a channel, courtesy Arthur Miller. My parents took me to a play, “A View From the Bridge”. I remember being mesmerized by the actors on stage and I told my parents that I wanted to be an actress.
‘MTV Most Wanted’ gave you fame, name, money.. did you always dream of becoming a VJ?
Showbiz came calling. As soon as I entered FYJC in Xaviers’, I was approached by a production coordinator who asked me to test for an ad. Though I had been approached earlier also but thought it was a joke and hadn’t really gone to any of the screen tests. I was a rounded kid; I didn’t see myself as a skinny model. My friends urged me to go. There were 200 other girls at the audition. I really didn’t want to wait around all day, but my friend who was with me refused to let me leave. Luckily, it was a performance-based comedy ad and I managed to make them laugh and got the ad. Before I knew it, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I was called in for every ad. MTV approached me at this time to screen test and before I could even look up to understand what was happening I was hosting ‘MTV Most Wanted’. I never stopped studying though. I graduated in English Lit and even when MTV moved my base to Singapore I continued to study there, and did my post-graduation in journalism. All those years of dreaming on the ship and not having company or anyone to talk with, well I more than made up for the not talking, after I joined MTV, all those words just burst out of my mouth.
After MTV, you suddenly disappeared. What kept you busy during that period?
After MTV, ‘Ishq Vishk’ happened immediately. I was too young! I wasn’t focused and had no idea what I wanted from life. Things came too easy to me and I took that for granted. After ‘Ishq Vishq’, I didnt get the kind of films I would like to watch, so I just took off. I had just finished my studies decided to take some time off and figure out if this is what I really wanted. I tried photography, writing, production, hosted travel shows in the US. I lived out of a suitcase like a hippy, went to acting and writing school in the US, did some plays, did tiny parts in LA; until I started missing Mumbai and the buzz. I watched every film while I was away and it kind of made me sad. I wanted to be part of it. I wanted ‘in’ again. So, I decided to come back, this time with focus and that’s what I am doing here now. I have three movies ready for release. I guess this is my comeback and, truthfully, I am very nervous about it. This is all I care about now. I’ve been everywhere, tried everything, traveled the world, studied in the best schools, and I’m ready to work hard and be focused. I don’t care about anything else anymore. Now I know that this is what I really want and it is my choice.
You made debut with Ken Ghosh, Shahid Kapoor, what happened after that?
Like I said, I wasn’t focused and did not know what I wanted. During ‘Ishq Vishk’, I continued hosting shows for MTV, traveling, practicing my photography, basically all my ‘awaragiri’ . I have itchy feet and can’t stay in one place too long. I even remember something Shahid said very clearly, “Tu kab tak traveling aur VJing karegi, films pe concentrate kar. Take it seriously”. At that time I took offense and was really upset with him but now I look back and realize, that he had focus and vision and knew what he wanted, I did not. When I got nominated for the ‘Filmfare Awards’, I was backpacking somewhere, it took my parents a while to get in touch with me and ask me to come back. I am a simple girl, I don’t need diamonds or jewels or fancy cars, all I need is enough money to be able to travel and eat well. I am quite a hippy really. But then, I realized it was acting and being in front of the camera which I loved and which I just gave up out of rebellion. This is another side to me and I really enjoy acting and I am good at it. Why give it up?!
What made you accept ‘Radio’?
The script was so tight, fast-paced, the music was exceptional. I loved my role in the film and fell in love with my character ‘Shanaya’.
Check out more pics of Shenaz
Tell us about your role in ‘Radio’?
Shanaya is an outspoken girl who wears all her emotions on her sleeve. She laughs easily and cries easily too. She is not shy or afraid of anything. She does different jobs just to stay out of the house to keep away from her parents nagging. They constantly want to get her married. She goes on to being a very popular RJ and has a beautiful voice and is also a back-up singer. Shanaya is today’s girl, she’s spunky, full of life, a Facebook addict, a little crazy and irrational and has traditional values hidden deep down. She’s torn between reason, practicality, doing the right thing and her emotions. I think the youth will identify with Shanaya.
What do you most like about your role?
Shanaya believes life is beautiful. She is innocent, full of life and spunk and is not afraid of anything. I love Shanaya’s optimism and innocence.
You have this bubbly, energetic persona while Himesh is quite the serious type. How was it working with him?
Himesh is the most positive person I have ever met in my life. He knows what he wants and all he cares about is achieving it. There is no small talk with Himesh. He is a true achiever and all he cares to discuss is the film. I love that about him! We have become great friends and I really respect him. He’s very likable once you get to know him. He is a very good person, extremely God-fearing and constantly munching the yummiest khakras ever. I was always stealing his khakras. We had workshops at his home for a week before the shoot. He insisted on us eating lunch with him everyday. Gosh! I couldn’t stop eating. He fed me all this yummy Gujju food, khakras and theplas and the works and made me listen to the album of ‘Radio’. The music is outstanding, Himesh’s best ever. I think we will remain friends for a long time. He is very misunderstood and I hope people see what I see in him. You are right, we are poles apart but most couples are and that’s what makes exciting relationships. You’ll understand what I mean when you watch the film.
What does Bollywood mean to you?
I love acting and Bollywood is a means by which I can work. I do believe that the Indian film industry has a long way to go. I am just waiting around for a good script. See, I am not here to be a star or sell sex. I want to act and be known as an actor and not a glam doll.
How ambitious are you as far as your film career is concerned?
I love films and am always going to be a part of movies. Even when I am a mom or grandmom, I will continue to be part of the film or theatre world. I have a need to be creative and constantly working. Be it acting, hosting or writing, maybe even directing someday.
Is anything happening on the theatre, TV front?
It’s just films for me at the moment.
What is next after ‘Radio’?
Delhi Belly.
Would you be interested in participating in any of the reality show?
Nope! I hate reality shows. There is no creativity at all. I don’t enjoy watching people’s lives falling to pieces.
Last but not the least, why should the audience watch ‘Radio’?
There are many reasons why one should watch ‘Radio’. Some of them are — the music is outstanding, people can identify with the characters in the movie. Also, the backdrop of a radio station is exciting and I think it will be fun to watch the lives of radio jockeys.

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October 19, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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