A chance to work alongside the industry’s biggest headliners is something new actors spend years working towards. For two Bollywood actresses, this chance was handed to them with the movie Jai Ho.
Both Daisy Shah and Sana Khan made their big debut in the Sohail Khan film starring Salman Khan, Bollywood’s darling since the late 1980s.
In Jai Ho, the 24-year-old Shah plays the female lead, as the 48-year-old Khan’s love interest. The model and dancer from Mumbai was still in awe of her good fortune at the film’s press conference in Dubai last week.
“I have worked with Salman Khan earlier and have had several work-related and social interactions with him, but playing his leading lady for the first time is totally overwhelming,” says Shah.
“It takes my breath away even when I think about it now. I am sure there are many ladies, the world over, who want to do this and I am the lucky one who got the opportunity.”
Shah laughs as she recalls the first scene she shot with Khan for Jai Ho.
“The first scene I did was with him and Tabu. I was so nervous. Not on the acting part, but because I was going to be working with such senior professionals. They are so good at their work that their scenes get OK’d in one or two takes and I was constantly stressed out about the fact that they might have to do seven or eight retakes of the same scene because of me.”
Khan immediately jumps to Shah’s defence: “That first scene that Daisy is talking about was an action sequence. It was a very difficult scene and she proved then and there what an amazing actor she is.”
He adds: “From the first day of shooting – where everything was so haphazard, the way it normally is in the early stages of a production, and keeping in mind that she must have been both nervous and excited about working with Tabu and me in the presence of the whole crew and the junior actors – she held it together so well. She might have been nervous, but she never showed it.”
The 26-year-old Sana Khan is as awestruck as Shah about making her Bollywood debut alongside Khan.
“I had been on Bigg Boss season six in late 2012 and interacted with Salman for three months, so people kept telling me that it must be a piece of cake for me to work alongside him in a film,” she says.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. Being part of such a major production, you have to prove yourself not only to the people who have put their trust in you by casting you, but also to everyone who will ever watch the film. A lot of credit goes to Salman Khan for being so easy-going that it’s a pleasure to work with him.”
Knowing how intimidating it can be for new actors to work with veterans, is there something Khan does to put his new co-actors at ease?
“When we sign somebody, they might have those one or two initial days of being shy or being intimidated, but you don’t start a movie instantly. You get to know the person, the person gets comfortable and then you start shooting,” Khan replies.
“Both the girls have performed extremely well and you will be able to see this when you see them on screen.”
• Jai Ho is now playing in cinemas across the UAE