Sanya Malhotra: In this industry, it is very easy to get lost and it is difficult to hold on to who you really are

As a rookie, she made an entry in Bollywood with an unconventional role of fighter Haryanvi in Nitesh Tiwari It is Dangal. The films he has chosen since then have been very different from each other, making it clear that he will not take the conventional route to stardom. To the actress who talks about her journey so far and what drives her generation of actors to make difficult decisions. Excerpts

The first is the first. How do you deal with being at home with the current #CoronaScare that has captivated us all? Even the film industry is negatively affected.

The films will finally be released when everything stabilizes and life returns to normal. For now, I stay inside and hope everyone does the same. It's been a few days with little or no outdoor activity, which is a bit unusual for working professionals. A few weeks ago, I was eager to get a two-day break after the Lucknow schedule of my ongoing project because I had been filming non-stop for the past eight and nine months. But yahan a mamla hello kuch aur ho gaya.

After spending months in photo shoots, how were the first days at home?

In the first two or three days of my stay, I read a lot of literature on the epidemic around the world, although I still feel like I don't know enough. I intend to update myself every day on what is happening around us. Other than that, I do housework, read, watch movies and shows, and meditate. I am also timing my family every day because they are in Delhi and it is important to stay connected. My friends and I are also watching each other. I just hope things get better soon. On the job front, the past year has been crazy, good, and fun, and I want to be on the move. I was mentally prepared for a life like this where I don't have time to read or clean my house. I was from Anurag Basu ’S Ludo inside Anu Menon ’S Shakuntaladevi, and then inside Pagglait . In fact, I am committed to a film that would have gone on floors now, but it’s been pushed ahead.

Since her debut film, Dangal, she has proactively chosen roles that do not fit the definition of a stereotypical female lead. Would you have liked things to be different? Do you think it was too risky to make these decisions?

My choices stem from the fact that when I decided to become an actor, I had also decided to try as many things as possible, live as many lives and experience different worlds, conflicts and emotions and not get stuck with doing one thing. I grew up watching different kinds of shows and films and read so many different authors. Today, I feel the need to lead different lives with different characters. The good part is that stories and characters also have so much variety to offer. When I am choosing a role, I follow my instinct. If my mind gravitates to a role, I take it up, regardless of the length. I don’t calculate much, and I have enjoyed everything I have done so far; none of the characters I have played is anything like the real me. Everyone who gets inside films does not get a chance to experience and experiment so much, like I have. It ’S a dream for newcomers to find something challenging to do. My debut film Dangal (2016) paved the way for me. Also, from the audience point of view, we have to remember that like us, they, too, are exposed to a wide variety of content today. That ’S pushing everyone in the business, including actors and creators, to break new grounds and engage an extremely discerning audience.

So far, the public has appreciated your work, with everything you've tried. What do you think has worked in your favor?

I think my debut movie Dangal and Pataakha (2018). My career started on such a note that people continue to approach me with strong characters. It just put me on that path. And Pataakha changed me as an actor. I didn't learn to act formally, but this movie taught me the technique of being an actor and gave me an extra ounce of confidence in my skill set. These two films have helped me find my space.

Do you become emotionally attached to your characters and ever find it difficult to separate from them?

Now I have begun to learn the art of separating from my work. Meditation and reading help me a lot. I don't know about others, but I am sensitive and easily attached to my characters. There are times when I make a scene and keep reflecting on it for hours after filming ends. For a time after filming Photograph (2019), I continued to feel that I am like my character Miloni. Today, I know that I am not like her and I never was, but in that phase, things were a little different. Phir kai baar aisa hota hai ki baithe baithe kho jaati hoon because I'm imagining a character's backstory. At times like these, when you have to study your roles so deeply and thoroughly, you must surround yourself with people who can keep you connected to your real life.

Who are the people who give you the reality check you're talking about?

Like friends, family and even the people you work closely with can keep you together. For instance, my closest friends are people who are not from the industry and those who have known me as their roomie. I have not changed for them. When we meet, we connect on the same plane. With them, I'm still like Monica from the sitcom FRIENDS. And the work I do not changed my friends ’attitude towards me. They don’t care for the ‘star’ status. That’s a blessing. In this industry, it’s very easy to lose yourself and difficult to hold on to who you really are.