Now that you are back to working at a steady pace, how would you encapsulate 2020? Professionally and personally, what kind of highs and lows did you experience?
It was a very interesting year, unexpected in many ways, but it gave me the time to reflect on things I have been doing so far. When we got to know about the pandemic, we were shooting for Bhool Bhulaiyya 2, and we had to take that decision to continue to work or to wrap up. We came back just before the national lockdown was implemented. No one knew it would go on for so long. One had not been with their family like this in a very long time. During the first few weeks of the lockdown, I watched a lot of content, attended masterclasses, did some diction and dance courses and some fun shoots with my parents at home. That time spent at home just amplified the gratitude I feel for the simple joys of life. The number one priority was to stay safe. When things opened up, and we all slowly started returning to our sets, I saw how closely the safety rules were being followed. The passion for what you do does not let you stay away from it. I love being on my film’s set and that is what I felt so grateful for when we went back into reboot mode.
Before the lockdown, you were shooting for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and recently you resumed shooting for the film in Manali. How did you pick up things from where you left them almost a year ago?
It needed some looking back and some revision. We were so excited and deeply into our characters when the lockdown suddenly brought everything to a stop. We returned to our set with renewed energy. We got back into our characters with some reading sessions and watching what we had shot previously to quickly make our notes. I had butterflies in my stomach when I left home for this shoot.
How did your family take it, especially when two-three key members from the team of Jug Jugg Jeeyo (Varun Dhawan and Neetu Kapoor), tested positive for coronavirus?
In the initial days of the pandemic, I refused a lot of work if the shoot was not at home. There was fear in my mind, primarily because I live with my parents and it worried me that I might put their health at risk. When the lockdown was eased and people got back to work, I saw how people were managing shoots in the new scheme of things. That gave me a lot of confidence. However, it hasn’t made me carefree. There’s still a cloud of uncertainty. When I came back from Chandigarh after the Jug Jugg Jeeyo shoot, I didn’t see my parents for days as I was in self-quarantine. So, it was like, one day, I was confident, and the next day, I wasn’t. It’s a constant battle and we have to figure things out gradually, one day at a time. As for Jug Jugg Jeeyo, we had a few cases in our team, despite following all the safety rules. It was something that scared all of us and had us feeling a little paranoid about everything. However, the moment the team members recovered, they were raring to go. I’ve experienced what it means when people say that, ‘The show must go on’. Yes, caution is necessary, but no fear should stop you from doing your work.
After the initial days of struggle and wait in your career, you seem to have hit the highway. Do you tread with more caution while selecting films now?
I continue to be a director’s actor who surrenders to his or her vision completely because that is what brings out the best in me. I give a lot of importance to that when I am choosing a film. I have to love the character, understand what the director wants to say, and enjoy the story and the script. Having said that, I love to take a risk. Some of it pays off and some of it leaves you more educated about your line of work. Either you just learn or you learn and soar. I feel that there is a long way to go before I reach where I want to be. Yes, the tag of being a star brings a certain kind of pressure, but I will always be an actor in my head. I try not to base my decisions on the position that I am at in my career. I am sure that I want to continue being the person I was when I started my career. My instinct and my passion for my work are the same.