Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has justified the tag of Mr. Perfectionist with his immense efforts and transformation for his upcoming film Dangal. But director Nitesh Tiwari has made sure that the film does not ride on success with only superstar Aamir Khan’s hard work but also with the hard work by newbies Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra, who play the role of Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat respectively, depict the journey of Aamir’s character in the film. Aamir Khan‘s onscreen daughters have gone through a deadly transformation to get into the skin of their character.
Becoming a wrestler is not a cake walk and while talking EXCLUSIVELY with Business Of Cinema.com, Sanya and Fatima shared their journey of Dangal and much more.
Not Aamir Khan but Dangal girls are a talk of the town and are receiving an immense response, how does it feel?
Sanya: It was a wonderful journey with Aamir sir. We are still interning with him…it’s a great learning experience because he is so passionate about his work; he is wonderful to work with. He is very simple so, it is easy for both of us too.
Fatima: I think just to be around someone who is so passionate about his work, it’s quite inspiring. Even after achieving what he has achieved and he is still at it. The amount of preparation he does before going into a role is quite commendable. So, I think I am learning a lot from him the kind of actor that he is, so I am taking a lot back.
The audition journey was very tough, tell us something about it.
Fatima & Sanya: It was very tough; we had quite a few levels of auditions. So, they just called us for a basic audition and we got shortlisted along with other 15-16 girls. Then we had workshops with Mukesh Chabra and Nitesh sir, and then we had one session where we had to audition with Aamir sir. We had two weeks of wrestling and gymming audition where Kripashankar Bhisnoi, who was our wrestling coach, had to see if we had the potential to be the wrestlers in terms of the look and the kind of wrestlers that they want us to look like. So I think it has been quite exhausting mentally and physically.
Are you both liking the new look and the transformations you have gone through?
Sanya: Of course, we are liking and everyone is asking did you feel bad that you got a haircut. No, we both were really happy with the haircut. I miss my hair sometimes but it’s okay. I look good. I don’t have any problem.
What was Aamir’s input in terms of motivation and training?
Fatima: Not only him (Aamir Khan) even Nitesh sir and our coach motivated. These were the three important people while we were preparing for the role. So, we had the most interaction with Kripashankar Bhisnoi who was our wrestling coach because we use to train every day and we use to gym every day. So these are the people which were actually around, just before the shooting say about one month or one and the half month we actually started hanging out with our director. We had meetings and workshops but most of the time was taken by training. He has been very supportive very understanding and very motivating.
Has life after Dangal changed in any way?
Fatima: Not yet, we are still in our training zone
Sanya: We have trained and we are learning so many things. We have changed as a person. I feel that I have become better… I was an introvert before now I think I can talk to people.
We have already seen the onscreen bonding between you both. Do you share the same rapport off-screen too?
Fatima: We were the only one hoping that what if I don’t get the role or if she doesn’t get the film….we wanted each other to get the film. We were the only one who used to help each other.
Sanya: From day 1 of the audition, even though we were competing for the same role….even when I was auditioning for Geeta before her, we used to help each other
You both faced major injury while shooting the film. How difficult was that phase?
Fatima: It was horrible; you know that the shoots were going to come, so, you don’t want to postpone the shoot. I guess mentally it was sad. You know that you don’t want to miss single day of training because one day itself can make a difference and it is just that heartbreaking
Sanya: Injuries are the major setback but because of our coach and because of everyone in the team, we stayed motivated. Our coach used to tell us “injuries wrestlers ka gehna hota hai”. He used to tell us every injury is normal.
How was working with director Nitesh Tiwari?
Fatima: He looks like a serious guy but he is very kind. Whenever we used to shoot the film or whenever there used to be a party after the shoot, me and Sanya along with Nitesh sir sit and make fun of everybody. We were the three backbenchers *Laughs*
Any wonderful memory with Aamir Khan?
Fatima: The whole film has been a memory and the whole journey has been quite a journey.
Many from the film fraternity have watched the film and have given a huge response, how does it feel?
Fatima and Sanya: Whoever has watched the film, they have praises little little *Laughs* It is overwhelming and it is so nice people like Karan Johar and Shabana Maam say nice things about your movie. Now we are waiting audience to react.
Inputs by: Khushboo Ratda