tv & movies

Ranbir Kapoor is the best actor, best human being: Sarika Singh revisits Bombay Velvet

This week's First of Many features Sarika Singh. In the 91st edition of our series, the actor talks about her first film, Anurag Kashyap directorial Bombay Velvet (2015).

Actor Sarika Singh is slowly and steadily finding her place onscreen. With nearly 13 years of experience in theatre under the guidance of veteran Satyadev Dubey, Sarika took the big leap after featuring in some TVCs. She is most remembered for playing Sanjay Mishra’s daughter in Hardik Mehta directorial Kaamyaab.

Sarika has also appeared in Jagga Jasoos, Bombay Begums, Sacred Games and the recent Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi where she was seen as the youngest daughter of Naseeruddin Shah and Supriya Pathak. Having worked with directors like Anurag Kashyap, Seema Pahwa and Anurag Basu, Sarika has found a new footing in the digital space too. She is now looking forward to her upcoming Netflix series Mai.

Sarika’s first brush with Bollywood was equally interesting. She played actor Satyadeep Misra’s onscreen wife in Anurag Kashyap’s ambitious project, Bombay Velvet. In her words, even lead actor Ranbir Kapoor was looking forward to seeing her in the small yet impactful role.

Here’s what Sarika shared about Bombay Velvet and working with some of the best names in the industry.

What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?

My first film was Bombay Velvet. In 2012, I got a call from Mukesh Chhabra’s office. His assistant told me it’s a small, yet a good role. I auditioned for it and within a week, I got a call again. This time, Mukesh Chhabra was on the line and he asked me where I was hiding till now. He said the audition was really nice and he would want to test me one more time. It was a very important role, and not because I was bad in the audition, but because he’d wanted to see my acting closely. I went for the second test and he told me even Anurag Kashyap loved my audition. That’s how I got the film. It was a small part of Chimman’s (Satyadeep Misra) wife, but I got a lot of appreciation for that. After the film, many casting directors who never called me, started reaching out to me.

Bombay Velvet was shot in Sri Lanka. We stayed at a resort in Yala. They had recreated the entire Bombay of the 1960s in Sri Lanka, with so much detailing. Even a matchbox had ‘BV’ (Bombay Velvet, name of the club) written on it. They had put up shops. I was shocked to see such a lavish set. It was all jungle on the outside, and an entire city inside. Vicky Kaushal and I stayed in the same small resort because we weren’t established actors. Varun Grover was also with us.

What do you remember of your first day on set?

The set has a fun atmosphere, in fact Ranbir Kapoor is the best actor and the best human being. The first day I remember, I hadn’t started shooting and there was a party. It was the first off day in our first schedule. Imagine, I was so nervous on the first day and then I need to attend a party. Ranbir comes to me and says ‘Hi’. He asked me which department I belonged to. When I told him I’m an actor, he asked about my part. He got excited that I was playing Chimman’s wife, and said he’s looking forward to my scene. So that was my finest memory from the film, and of course Anurag Kashyap who’s such a chilled out person to work with.

Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

I had done a couple of advertisements so I was not very nervous, maybe just a bit of it. More difficult was to get into that 1960s getup with hairdo, makeup and sarees. They shot the club scenes in Sri Lanka and my main scene was shot in Mumbai. She’s there at the club sitting all the time, as others are undertaking their dealings. Those portions we shot in Lanka. So my scenes there were not that major ones that I would be nervous on my first day. But I was so happy observing other actors, like Kay Kay Menon, Ranbir Kapoor, Manish Chaudhary, I had a blast watching them.

How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?

I met Anurag at some parties after the film. He even directed my scene in Sacred Games. He said I was meeting him after marriage. He’s very sweet. Manish and I became very good friends after Bombay Velvet. We live in the same area and still hang out together, go for coffees and dinners. We didn’t even know we were playing husband-wife in Bombay Begums and were thrilled. I have a cordial rapport with Vicky Kaushal too. He’s a great human being.

Though I expected more after the film, all I got were small roles, until Kaamyaab came to me in 2018. Hardik Mehta cast me in that because he saw me in Bombay Velvet.

If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?

Absolutely yes. Now to see it, I find a lot of mistakes and feel I could’ve done so much better had I worked a little more on my character or on the set. Though I feel that happens with every project.

One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?

I never had that movie watching atmosphere in my house where the entire family is visiting a movie theatre every weekend. But we did watch those films on Doordarshan every Sunday. Be it Bazaar, Mandi or Chupke Chupke, even if it came repeatedly, we watched it. Also the telefilms on Doordarshan with NSD and FTII actors too. They were such realistic films and I loved them from the beginning. I’ve never been a fan of films like Zanjeer or Deewaar.

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