Saiyami Kher says shooting for Ghoomer everyday with 1 hand tied for 10 hours was ‘excruciatingly painful’
Saiyami Kher talks to HT about Ghoomer, how difficult it was to shoot with her one hand and her recent cricket session with Sachin Tendulkar.
Saiyami Kher has worked with the best directors of the Hindi film industry in just eight years of her acting debut. A cricket lover herself, she has now bowled over the critics and the audience with Ghoomer in which she plays a paraplegic cricketer to perfection. The actor has shined through in the R Balki film and says that her Breathe co-star Abhishek Bachchan may be her ruthless coach on screen but is her favourite co-star for many reasons. Also read: Ghoomer actor Ivanka Das reveals she had ‘very bad experience’ with trans actors during Haddi shoot
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Saiyami talked about the success of Ghoomer and why it’s the most exhausting film of her career. She also opened up why it means a lot to her besides the experiencing of working with R Balki as well as Abhishek. Excerpts:
Doesn’t it feel like a long awaited success?
It feels very overwhelming because everything's been happening so back-to-back. I was training for Ghoomer during Faadu and then right after that Ghoomer happened.
You shared a video with Sachin Tendulkar recently and wrote at the end of your caption ‘this is what happiness is’. What does it mean to you?
He has been my inspiration. I've been completely mesmerized by the man since I was a child. This was my dream. I started acting and my friends would laugh and say, ‘you act like someday Sachin will see your film.’ So that was the goal. I put my head down and worked hard to achieve that. It was really overwhelming for him to watch. He really enjoyed the film a lot. And then, of course, I got to bowl in front of him. Unfortunately the gully cricket pitch was wet so he couldn’t bat.
You strapped your hand at the back to play a paraplegic athlete. How difficult was it to shoot?
This has been the most exhausting and physically challenging film I’ve done. For 10 hours, I used to keep my hand tied up behind me and wore the prosthetic over it. With a tied hand, I would run, field, dive, play, eat, sleep. It was excruciatingly painful and more than the physical, I feel even mentally there was so much that the character goes through. It was emotionally exhausting.
Was there a moment when you were on the verge of a breakdown?
No, I didn’t have that point at all because I was completely committed and very excited every day on the shoot. I didn’t think at all that this is too much. The struggle was there but it was fun as well. I had a fracture in my leg. I had a toenail that came out. I had a lot of injuries but at no point did I feel that it’s too much.
You have worked with the best of the lot. What is R Balki's process of directing a film?
I've been very blessed here. I have worked with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for my debut (Mirzya). Then I worked with Anurag Kashyap, Neeraj Pandey, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and now R Balki. I've been very grateful because in such a short career to kind of have the best directors backing you, it's a kind of validation in spite of whatever the result of the film is.
Balki is somebody who is very collaborative. We do script readings but he is very open to suggestions. He is very open to ideas if they make logical sense. You have to be very prepared when you are working on a R Balki set. He is the most non-filmy. He's absolutely cricket obsessed. This film is an ode to cricket from him and he’s really happy that he could do this film and give back to the sport. He is one of the nicest people to work with and he’s kind of spoiled me rotten after the way he’s pampered me on set and off the set.
What is your favourite scene from Ghoomer?
My favourite scene is the climax when I breakdown after I hit the winning ball. It's a very personal feeling because everything that was bottled up inside me for many years of facing rejection and failure. So it was just everything coming out in that winning shot.
Abhishek is very harsh with you on screen. How is your bonding with him behind the screen?
He is one of my favourite co-star because I have worked with him on Breathe. He is genuinely caring, very mature, somebody who taught me a lot in the process in the last 4-5 years. It’s wonderful working with him.
Your film got a standing ovation at Indian Film Festival of Melbourne but you didn’t show much emotion at the moment. Are you really not very expressive?
I don’t express much, I am a very introverted person. I keep my feelings bottled up inside. When I am acting in front of a camera, I can put out everything that I keep stored inside. I don’t publicly show emotions at all.
How sweet this success feels?
It feels wonderful when your work is appreciated. The biggest validation was when I got Mr Amitabh Bachchan’s letter. It really means the world because there are many people who told me that I am no good. I hope the love keeps pouring in.