Art & Entertainment

Fatima Sana Shaikh: It's Heartbreaking When You Give 100 Percent And People Don't Accept Your Project

Fatima Sana Shaikh said that she follows her instinct when it comes to choose her projects. She feels failure is part and parcel of life.

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Fatima Sana Shaikh Photo: Instagram
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Fatima Sana Shaikh shot to fame after playing one of the leads in ‘Dangal’. Her role as Geeta Phogat got her lots of appreciation. She later starred in films like ‘Thugs of Hindostan’, ‘Ludo’, ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’, ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ and ‘Modern Love’ among others. In 2023, Fatima Sana Shaikh played former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Vicky Kaushal starrer ‘Sam Bahadur’. Fatima was raved for her performance in the war drama. The film has finally released on Zee5 on January 26 and it has received positive reactions.

Recently, Outlook India had a freewheeling conversation with Fatima where she revealed she was apprehensive about playing Indira Gandhi, how she chooses her projects, dealing with failures and more. Excerpts from the interview:

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Were there any apprehensions when you were offered the role of Mrs Indira Gandhi?

I was a little apprehensive because I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this or not but Meghna was very clear that she wanted me as Indira Gandhi and asked me to trust her. I feel when the director is clear and he/she wants to see you in a particular character then you just have to take the leap and I did that. I really enjoyed playing the character and the Indira in Sam Bahadur, is a vision that Meghna had. I did as she wanted me to and all credit goes to her that people liked my performance. We have seen Indira Gandhi in a certain way and in a certain light. Here, Meghna wanted to show Indira Gandhi's vulnerable side more than anything else. We see a different side of her with Sam Manekshaw in the film. 

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Earlier, we have seen several actors playing Indira Gandhi. So, did you have this fear that people might compare you with them?

I never think about it. I don't do things out of fear, I do it out of excitement. There is a nervousness about whether I should do it or not. For example, Bhagat Singh has been played by so many actors and every actor has a different interpretation and every director wants to show a different layer and story. So, I don't fear about comparisons. 

As an actor, I should also explore. Until and unless I don't try, fail and achieve and if I don't experiment how would I know if I have it in me or not? For that, I have to be out of my comfort zone. 

Earlier, in an interview, you said you don’t want to be in a ‘cookie-clutter template’. Is this the reason, you like exploring diverse genres?

No actor wants to be in a cookie cookie-cutter template especially now when there is so much content. I don't sign my films with an agenda. I follow my instinct. At different stages of your personal life, you make different choices. I have never approached my career from a very single viewpoint. I think there are layers involved when you are making decisions in your life. There are so many personal things happening and also career-wise. Also, there are so many external forces that you eventually want to decide something. It's very complicated and layered. I have stopped analysing too much and I just go by my instinct.

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Do you feel that gone are the days when actors had to look a certain way and now more importance is given to talent? 

Yes, things have changed. People have become acceptable to talent and there are opportunities for everybody. You don't need to look a certain way to be part of a film. You just have to have the soul of it. If you connect with the soul of the character, directors and makers are also with that now. 

After delivering a successful film like 'Dangal', did you have pressure to do better?

Post Dangal, I was very hard on myself. I used to constantly feel that I have to prove myself and that struggle never ends. Over the period of time, I have realised that I have to prove myself only and become better than what I was yesterday. My motto in life is whatever I am today, I have to be better than this.

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I don't have competition with others. When others do well, you know that the standard or the bar is high, now you have to work really hard to match up to other people. That's what makes it exciting because the standard should be very high and only then I can improve.

'Sam Bahadur' faced a tough competition with 'Animal' at the box office. But eventually, it did well with word of mouth. Do you feel it was not promoted as it should have been? 

Promoting a movie is the director's and producers' call. Sam Bahadur found its audience eventually and you can't compare two different genres and expect a similar kind of reaction. It's completely fine as long as it got the recognition and found an audience and the appreciation it eventually got. What's important is audience liked it. One worked with a bang and one has worked as a slow burner which is also a great thing. 

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How do you deal with failures?

Failure is a part and parcel of living and you deal with it every day. You just learn to accept and be better tomorrow and to be consistent. That's what I try to do. Of course, it's heartbreaking when you give 100 percent and people don't accept your project. But then you learn from it. The only thing I can do is work hard and do my job well. 

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