Amyra Dastur, who kickstarted her acting career in 2015 with the Emraan Hashmi-starrer Mr X, is currently awaiting the release of the psychological thriller, Koi Jaane Na. The movie, which releases on April 2, also features Kunal Kapoor and Elli AvRam. Apart from Bollywood, Amyra has also showed off her acting skills in international films like the Jackie Chan-starrer Kung Fu Yoga, worked in Telugu and Tamil films and was most recently seen the popular web series Tandav. In an interaction with the Cinema Journal, Amyra talks about her character, international ventures and her experiences in the South industry. Excerpts:
Tell us about your character in Koi Jaane Na.
I play Suhana, for whom everything is about adventure. She eventually falls in love with Kabir Kapoor [played by Kunal Kapoor]. However, the romantic plot is full of twists and turns. I can promise that Suhana will be a breath of fresh air in the film.
Your last international project was Kung Fu Yoga in 2017 with Jackie Chan, which released in Mandarin, Hindi and English. Do you plan to work more in Hollywood?
Yes, I want to work more in Hollywood. However, my work here has kept me busy. Also, international projects take longer to shoot and wrap. With Kung Fu Yoga, I had to literally give up a year of my life. Well, I have now finally reached that stage in Bollywood where I am at least doing two shows or films in a year. I do want to venture into the West, but it is not that easy. One has to know the right casting agent besides travelling across the globe and physically auditioning there, which definitely is an issue amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
You have worked in Bollywood, Tamil and Telugu industry. What are the differences?
The only difference I found was that in the Tamil industry, the pace of work is faster than the others and you cannot be laid back at all. In Bollywood, it’s still considered alright if actors arrive a little late on the sets. However, it’s just a big ‘no-no’ in the Tamil industry. It’s taken as a sign of disrespect. The Tamil industry is a little stricter because of its culture.
What would work better for you: OTT or films?
To be honest, I am getting good offers from both. Coming to OTT, I am working with big names like Ali Abbas Zafar and production houses like Excel Entertainment. I don’t really have a preference although I believe that the experience of a theatre cannot be replaced. OTT is definitely coming out with amazing content, but I don’t think anybody can replace the joy of watching movies on a big screen.
Was there a culture shock when you moved from Mumbai to South India to work in films?
Yes, of course, there was a culture shock but I found it quite endearing and lovely. In the Tamil industry, directors would often talk to me in Tamil between shots, and I’d beg them to converse in English or Hindi. (laughs). I’d also perform these outrageous dance numbers, which I don’t think I’d ever do again. I could never relate to the action sequences too as they were extremely larger than life.
Do you think films in the South need to be sensitive about how they portray women?
I think the South is very respectful towards women, especially in Tamil cinema, which is a little conservative. I have never faced any form of sexism in the South, even in their scripts.
Is the success of Tandav giving way to plumper roles?
It’s the success of my OTT releases — right from Rajma Chawal (2018) and now Tandav — that has given a boost to my career. It’s because of these two projects that people are finally noticing me as an actor and not considering me to be just a pretty face on-screen. I am thankful to the OTT platforms for that.
What projects are in the pipeline?
I am shooting for Excel Entertainment’s Dongri to Dubai and will hopefully finish it by June. I have a Tamil thriller release with Prabhu Deva sir, titled Bagheera. I have also shot for a big project on an OTT platform but cannot disclose it yet. It will be announced sometime next month.