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Banita Sandhu on working with Shoojit Sircar: “He gives a lot of lectures & I listen to some of them”

Banita Sandhu, who made her Bollywood debut in ‘October’ (2018) with Varun Dhawan, is seen portraying a deaf and mute girl in the recent digital hit film ‘Sardar Udham’ (2021), starring Vicky Kaushal. She’s opened about working with director Shoojit Sircar.

Speaking to TOI, Sandhu is delighted at the film receiving so much praise, “It’s been incredible, and honestly, it has exceeded my expectations. With Vicky and Shoojit sir, I knew it was going to be a good movie, but they have just taken the film to another level. I really didn’t expect anything because my role was so small and now to see people touched by it makes me feel so happy and warm inside.”

Sandhu explained how she had to learn Indian sign language to prepare for her role, “When Shoojit sir told me that I would be playing a deaf-and-mute character, the first thing I had to do was learn the Indian Sign Language (ISL). The film was set 100 years ago in Amritsar in Punjab, so I had to localise it to make it look authentic to the region. So, I came down to Amritsar a week before the shoot; I had a great teacher Neelam ji, who works in a special school for the deaf and mute. I was attending the school for a week, observing and interacting with the kids. Later, I also brought them on sets a couple of times, and they got to see my side of things. They also could tell me if I was doing something right or wrong; the challenging part was the learning. But, other than that, Shoojit sir gave me the space to play. There were moments when I interacted with Vicky to improvise, with the cameras capturing the moment. It was a really lovely experience.”

Asked why she chose to work with Sircar again, Sadhu said, “It’s Shoojit Sircar, how do you say no to him? He is a maverick! I’m so fortunate because he has been a part of my career. My career started with him. We have such a special bond! I hope this is just the beginning of a long work relationship we will have together. Personally, he has been a mentor and a guiding light to me; he gives a lot of lectures and I listen to some of them (laughs). If I have to put it point blank, working with him makes my job easy. I always know that we are going to make a great film together; that’s a no-brainer. Why would you not work with a director like that?”

Talking about her future projects, Sandhu shared she has a film based on Mother Teresa, “I have one film coming out; it’s on the life of Mother Teresa; it’s called ‘Kavita & Teresa’. Hopefully, we will have a release date soon and I will let you know. There’s another Hindi language film that I shot for this summer, which I think is releasing early next year, but I’m not allowed to say anything on it. It has a great cast and I’m really excited.”