British-Indian actress, Banita Sandhu, who played a Tamil girl in the Bollywood film October, is now part of a full-fledged Tamil film, having been cast in the reboot of the Arjun Reddy remake – Adithya Varma. “It just happened,” she laughs in conversation with Silverscreen, “I have never been to Chennai but I’d love to be there and find a place in the Tamil audience’s hearts.”
Banita was 18 when she decided that she would be an actor. She began her career with advertisement projects, before switching to films. The young actress gave a remarkable performance as Shiuli in her very first film October.
She begins her tale on a simple note. “My acting dream started when I was 10 or 11, and I began working for television back then. I decided to study in London during college, to have easy access to acting opportunities. My parents supported me a lot. I worked on a few advertisements, which is when I got an offer to do October with Varun Dhawan. I loved the character Shiuli. When I got this offer, I was in the final year of my English Literature bachelors. But I was sure that this was the kind of the movie I was looking for and I am happy it turned out well,” she says.
What made her accept the role in Adhitya Varma? “I saw Arjun Reddy when it released. But when producer Mukesh approached me with the offer, I said let me watch the movie once again and decide. I watched the movie, and it felt right. I decided to do the role.”
Acknowledging the reports about the film, Sandhu says, “People are branding it (Director Bala’s exit from the film, and the subsequent title change) as a controversy. But the producer told me everything when I was offered this role. I am aware of it. It’s not just a remake. It’s a re-shoot of a remake. To make such a decision is a huge risk because it involves a lot of money too. It’s not an easy decision. What the producer did is admirable. We really do have to get it right this time.”
Banita adds she feels responsible for the film, and that it demands more work from her. Language is one such challenge: she is planning to work on her Tamil. “When I was doing October, language was the challenge I faced. It’s not just about it though. Being born and brought up in the UK, it’s about the accent too. I learnt the Indian accent of English and then Hindi. That way, it worked well. Once I get the script for Adithya Varma, I will start working on my lines vigorously. Tamil is a hard language. I am planning to work with the accent more.”
Shoot for Adithya Varma will begin in March, and Banita cannot wait to join the sets. She says she loves to work on films which let her interpret them from her perspective as an English literature student.
About her future plans, she says: “I have my own dreams. I love to do all genres in films. But I am also aware that I must not overthink them. For me, work is more important. I believe if I concentrate on my work, I can reach the place that I dream of.”
The Banita Sandhu interview is a Silverscreen exclusive.