Fatima Sana Shaikh on nepotism: “Of course, there is favouritism…”

Puja Talwar


‘Dangal’ (2016) girl – as she continues to be called – Fatima Sana Shaikh has not one but two back to back releases this Diwali with Anurag Basu’s ‘Ludo’ opposite Rajkummar Rao and Abhishek Sharma’s ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ opposite Diljit Dosanjh, and she is happy to see this clash with her own self in the OTT space.

The success of ‘Dangal’ followed by the colossal failure of her second film ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ did affect the actress but she admits, “Yes it made me a bit unsure, but am a positive person and was hopeful things would change for me”.

When asked if she following mentor Aamir Khan’s policy of one film in two years, she laughs, “Yeh choice nahi hai mera. I think fate had a role in this. Ludo was shot two years ago and Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari was shot this year and both are releasing at the same time. I don’t have the luxury to be choosy but I would like to do more work, more films and be noticed. Hoping 2021 is a better year for me professionally.

Talking about ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’, where she plays the bride to be to Dosanjh’s groom, the actress said it’s been a breather to do comedy and play a role like this, “Because people post ‘Dangal’ and ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ would have typecast me and not seen me as a softer character like in this film and in Ludo. Working with Manoj Bajayee whose work is phenomenal, who has been a mentor, pulling me back from my darkest moments. On the other hand Diljit Dosanjh has remarkable screen presence, that apart the script and character was ready made this film was an instant yes”.

Talking about ‘Ludo’, where she plays a wife and mother who discovers her husband’s infidelity and takes the help of her ex boyfriend, Shaikh says, “It was the sheer greed to work with Anurag Basu”. Like all the actors on set the actress say’s it was the thrill of working without a tight bound script where you are asked to feel the character and situation that is the best challenge for an actor. She says, “I keep hounding Dada (Anurag Basu) to make another film with me soon since am not satisfied with just one film with Ludo since he knows how to get the best from his talent”.

The actress, who recently directed a music video for Vishal Bhardwaj, says she does not like to put herself out there like most of the fraternity, from an over active social media presence to being at every filmy soiree, “My personality is such. I am comfortable being with me, it’s not that I am anti social. I love being on set and meeting people. But, am not comfortable with these party situations. I become socially awkward and there is not really much for me to do there”.

Talking about nepotism and the ongoing debate between insider and outsider, she says, “Of course, there is favouritism. I was so used to being rejected that I actually felt I would not get Dangal since I was so used to being rejected. Takleef hai har jagah hai; there are hurdles everywhere but you cannot take a few cases and stereotype an industry is not right. Jo log koshish kar rahe hai, they will keep striving, but if you are so negative about the place, you are also impacting our positivity. C’mon from Shah Rukh Khan to Priyanka Chopra to Manoj Bajpayee to Kangana Ranaut, they are not from filmy families. So, it’s wrong to say there is no acceptance. I am working… Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan, Siddhant Chaturvedi… we are all working, getting films. So to say no acceptance is wrong. There are opportunities. Yes, some get a few more but no one said life is fair. It’s unfair for all who are not privileged. You have to keep striving and fighting and not get complacent saying it’s unfair”.

‘Ludo’ is currently streaming on Netflix whilst ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ will premiere on ZEE Studio on 15th November.