'I was absolutely intimidated by 
Sanjay Leela Bhansali': 'Tuesdays and Fridays' actor Jhataleka Malhotra

Jhataleka Malhotra, former Miss India, recently made her Bollywood debut with Sanjay Leela Bhansali-produced movie, Tuesdays and Fridays. The movie saw her pair up with another debutant, Anmol Thakeria Dhillon, veteran actor Poonam Dhillon’s son. Interestingly, the film also marks directorial debut of Taranveer Singh. The movie is a love story of Sia (played by Jhataleka) and Varun (played by Anmol) who decide to date twice a week. In a quick chat with the Cinema Journal, Jhataleka opens up about the movie, working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali among other things. Excerpts from the interview:

How was your experience of making a debut with a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film?

It was brilliant. It took me a while to digest the fact that I was actually working with Sanjay sir and going to make a debut under his banner. Both Anmol and I, received a warm welcome from everybody. We were guided on how to approach the characters. We were also told to stop thinking about everything, and to just be in the world of Tuesdays and Fridays. I’m very grateful for this opportunity. Making a debut with Sanjay sir’s production house is a dream fulfilled. It’s different from the kind of cinema Sanjay sir normally makes. This film is very breezy. It will leave a smile on everyone’s face... The story is quite relatable. It’s about the kind of relationship you share in day-to-day life, which even the audience may have felt in their lives.

Tell us about your experience of meeting Sanjay Leela Bhansali for the first time.

I remember they were looking at launching new faces. When I walked into the room I was very scared. I was absolutely intimidated by his [Sanjay Leela Bhansali] personality. I couldn’t believe that I am sitting with him for a meeting in the first place, let alone any expectations of getting the film. When I met him he asked a few questions — where I was from, my family, etc. He then asked for my pictures, which I shared. He said, ‘You have a photogenic face and it is made for the cameras.’ It was a huge compliment... coming from him. My day was made! I didn’t know I would be asked to come back after finishing the audition as he wanted to see some performance... it was the same process for everyone.

Would he often come to the sets?

We were shooting in London, and Sanjay sir came on the set one day in the first week. No sooner he entered the sets, from the spot to the technicians all were scared. I was scared too as my shot was in progression. He would not interfere with director Taranveer Singh’s work. He wanted him to explore his own space for a song and spent a couple of hours on the set... He was behind the camera watching everything. One song was being shot where I had walk. He saw me doing that scene and he said, ‘She is looking so beautiful and should look the same throughout the entire film.’ He was so sweet and warm. These words encouraged me to do better.

One dream fulfilled, what next?

It’s indeed a dream debut. I also had a dream of working with Yash Chopra ji, unfortunately, he is not with us. I will work on bettering my craft. I have a lot to learn, and would like to work with everybody from the industry.

Free Press Journal