Facing the beach-side view from the room, where she was dressed in a black tee and blue jeans paired with a striking blue jacket. Her innocence and smile are the two make-up products she used. We know her as the ‘Dangal’ girl, Zaira Wasim, who achieved her first National Award with her debut film, at a tender age of 16. The age where students are barely able to decide what they want for their lives, Zaira was living the life, dreamt by many. She is currently pursuing her further studies and is on a short break. Although, in an exclusive tete-e-tete with mid-day, she confesses that she never wanted to face the camera. However, here she is, facing the camera for the second time with Aamir Khan in ‘Secret Superstar’. A story about a girl who is passionate about achieving her dreams and how she fights against all odds, wherein Aamir Khan plays a musician with a quirk to his character.
Tell us about your character Insiya in ‘Secret Superstar’?
Insiya is someone who wants to live her dream and is extremely passionate about singing and is amazing at playing guitar. She is very close to her mother.
Your film’s tagline is ‘Dream Dekhna Toh Basic Hota Hai’ (It’s basic to see a dream). How much do you relate to it?
It’s very weird for me because I’m not that kind of a person. I’m very lazy. I’m still not able to figure a dream for myself. I’m still exploring and discovering.
Always wanted to be an actor?
No, I never wanted to be an actor. In fact, I never used to watch a lot of films and this is something I never thought I would want to get into.
Then how did you get into acting?
I have always been a very shy kind of a person, introvert. I could not speak in front of a lot of people and I never thought I would get to perform. So, one time, I got selected for a play in my school and that’s when my principal figured out that I can act and she gave my name to a casting director from Mukesh Chhabra’s team when he came to Kashmir. He also happened to go to that school at the same time and that’s how it happened.
After a huge film ‘Dangal’ and now ‘Secret Superstar’, are you still shy and introvert?
Sort of, I’m still recovering.
The way your character in the film is passionate about singing, what is it that you’re passionate about?
It’s so weird that I’m no way close to the actual character in the film. I’m not passionate, I’m still discovering my passion.
Since you’ve been saying that you aren’t remotely close to the character, then did you have to go through workshops or certain kind of preparation to perfect the character?
I spent a lot of time with Meghna (Mishra), who’s singing for me in the film. I spent a lot of sessions with her to get the core of the songs because when you’re enacting it on-screen, you’re not actually singing it might look like I’m not putting in enough effort. It has to look that I’m actually singing. That’s all I did. Apart from this, it was entirely the director’s (Advait Chandan) call.
Is it true that to enact a character, you associate yourself with the closest happened incident in your life, which rather helps you to get the desired emotion?
I’m not that brilliant kind of an actor who can easily get into the skin of the character. That’s my own method. Given the situation, I would get into my own headspace or if I couldn’t find any closest emotion, I would rather build it. I cannot be into that zone of the character, being in her footsteps and imagining what is happening, instead, I go into my own zone.
What was your parent’s reaction after receiving the news of you winning a National Award for your debut film ‘Dangal’ itself?
It’s surreal. The news was out at 11 o’clock and I was still sleeping. I woke up to 20-30 missed calls. I received dozens of congratulatory messages and I didn’t know what was happening. And then, my mother called me and said, ‘You didn’t tell me that you got a National Award’ and my reaction was, ‘Who got an award, what is a National Award?’ because I had no idea how and when does the National Award come. I saw it on the Television and I had no idea that I was nominated. I was staying with my maternal grandma that time; she learned about it and went cuckoo. She said I want to tell this to everyone. She tried calling my brother, my father because she was so anxious that ‘I want to tell someone right now’. She called my mother and she was obviously very happy and just like me, my father had no clue about the National Award. He said, ‘Achha beta! Very good ‘.
What was Aamir Khan’s reaction upon learning this news?
He congratulated me and it would definitely have not been possible without him.
How has his contribution been overall, right from ‘Dangal’ and now ‘Secret Superstar’?
He’s really like a friend and father to me. I’m telling again none of this would have been possible without him.
When acting in Bollywood, people tend to shift base to Mumbai? Would you ever leave Kashmir and shift base to Mumbai?
I have my serious doubts about that. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave my hometown. I’m euphoric about it. I don’t think I’m ever going to do that.
In that case, you would have to travel very frequently for professional purposes? Wouldn’t it get too hectic?
It’s okay. You have to give up something if you want to achieve something.
After the release of ‘Dangal’, when you first when Kashmir, how did the people receive you there?
It’s been so overwhelming. Every time I go out in Kashmir, it’s lovely. People come and they take pictures. It’s so beautiful, they treat you like their own kid. The feeling can’t be put in words.
Has life changed after ‘Dangal’?
Life hasn’t changed much. It’s been the same to what it was. Apart from the fact that every time I go out, I receive a lot of love.
What kind of responses are pouring in for ‘Secret Superstar’?
The responses are wonderful. I’m not on social media, so I connect with people. Every time I go out, people come and tell me how much they’ve loved the trailer and I’m hoping for the best.