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Sanjana Sanghi: Start of a special journey

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SANJANA Sanghi began her acting career at a very young age with brief appearances in Rockstar, Hindi Medium and Fukrey Returns before landing a starring role in the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s swan song, Dil Bechara.

Her impactful performance in the film, an adaptation of John Green’s 2012 novel The Fault in Our Stars, propelled her into the spotlight as an emerging star.

Her recent back-to-back releases – Dhak Dhak and Kadak Singh – highlighted her talent while underscoring her versatility. These contrasting films, available on the streaming sites Netflix and ZEE5, respectively, showcase her diverse acting range.

The 27-year-old actor will soon begin work on Dhak Dhak 2, the sequel to the very successful Dhak Dhak.

Eastern Eye caught up with the actress to discuss her recent releases, deep desire to do different projects, a dynamic 2023 and expectations she has from 2024.

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What kind of feedback have you received for your latest film Kadak Singh on ZEE5 Global?

To be honest, the response we’re receiving is surpassing our expectations. I didn’t fully grasp the impact of a film opening on a specific date and being broadcast on a major platform like ZEE5 Global across 200 countries.

How would you describe the film?

Kadak Singh is tailored for a slightly discerning audience; it demands engagement. You can’t just watch it passively while doing household chores. It’s a fast-paced thriller. I was confident people would enjoy it, given the consistent success of thrillers in recent years.

inset Sanjana Sanghi in Kadak Singh Image 1
Sanjana Sanghi with Pankaj Tripathi in ‘Kadak Singh’

What made you say yes to it?

The thing that struck me the most about the film was its duality – it’s not just a thriller but also a family drama. Portraying the dynamic between a father and daughter with Pankaj Tripathi, and my scenes with Jaya Ehsaan’s character Naina, were the most beautiful moments to cherish as an actor.

Pankaj Tripathi is one of the finest actors in the industry. Was it intimidating to work with him?

To be completely honest, I’ve never been the type of person – even when I was a little girl – to feel intimidated. It’s just not in my nature.

Even when I was younger, at 13, I first experienced being an actor on a set with Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar. He was the first person I acted with, and that experience taught me the importance of letting go to perform really well.

Tell us about that.

Knowing why you’re there and understanding that you were chosen for what you bring to the table is crucial. Then you have to rise to the occasion and knock on the pitch with the same rigour as an actor with Pankaj Tripathi’s capability does. What I’ve realised through my recent films is that I’m the kind of actress who’s responsive to my co-actors. The more I receive from them, the more I give in return. That’s just my performance style. Working with Pankaj Tripathi, I received so much from him that I was able to give equally, and that was a truly fulfilling experience for me, personally.

Looking at your filmography so far, you have not repeated yourself. All your characters have been totally different. Is it a conscious decision, or do such roles find you?

It is very much a mix of both. I chose to become an actor because of my love for performing, even though I was such a nerd. I could have gone on to do many other things as well.

One thing I don’t want to do is take on films for the sake of it. Because what happens sometimes is that there is a phase that comes in every industry where the writing gets lazy and things become formulaic. So, if an action film works, people will make 10 more of the same. As an actor, you need that eye to make sure you are not getting caught in any of those ruts. Luckily, filmmakers have been able to see these different personas in me.

That’s a very accurate observation.

Yeah, I don’t know how Imtiaz Ali saw Mandy in me 13 years ago. I also don’t know how Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury saw Sakshi in me for Kadak Singh. I hope my filmmakers continue to surprise me like that, allowing me to keep embracing these challenges. Avoiding repetitive genres fuels a rapid evolution as an actor. It’s about exploring diverse facets of yourself rather than delving deeper into just one aspect. As a young actor, it’s incredibly fulfilling.

Do you like characters that are completely different from or similar to your personality?

I think, however different the character is in terms of the context, there will always be something that you can connect with. At the end of the day, I really feel that human emotions are universal. If you have lived a life where you have had a myriad of experiences, I feel that there will always be something in you that will connect with audiences. Take, for instance, Sakshi in Kadak Singh.

Another film of yours which is being talked about is Dhak Dhak, which recently began streaming on Netflix after a theatrical run. How was that experience?

It was totally incredible. The film is also performing exceptionally well on Netflix. It’s taken on a whole new life, especially after its recent addition to the platform. Personally, working on Kadak Singh and Dhak Dhak has been a very rewarding experience. The journeys and the films are distinct. Yet, the response to both was filled with positivity and resonated with love, and that’s an amazing feeling.

inset Sanjana Sanghi in Dhak Dhak 3 2
Dia Mirza, Ratna Pathak Shah and Fatima Sheikh in ‘Dhak Dhak’

What is your main takeaway from Kadak Singh?

So many, honestly. But I think my biggest takeaway has been that I have met some of the most beautiful and incredible people on the journey of Kadak Singh, and I don’t say that lightly.

I can assure you that not every film set gives you that. You don’t always feel entirely comfortable with or have that innate respect while working. But on the sets of Kadak Singh, it was like everyone was in love with each other, you know. It was one of those kinds of sets. From the director to the entire cast, I got to know people who I am going to be in touch with for the rest of my life. Yeah, that’s the biggest takeaway for me.

How do you look back on your action-packed 2023?

I am good at looking back and then analysing. I am not a person who plans meticulously, so I have no clue about what 2024 has in store for me. However, the past year has been a very special one because it involved working in Kadak Singh and Dhak Dhak and them turning out so well. So, it was a very eventful year for me. It has been one that involved a lot of learning and one that I will always remember as a very special year.

What do you expect from 2024?

I don’t know if it is an expectation, but, as an actor, my hope is to constantly keep improving. To just keep working more and more on myself and honing my craft in a way that it keeps getting better, hopefully with every film.

But there are also big expectations personally from this new year, you know, and that is understanding to achieve a balance in my life. I have turned 27 and realised taking time for yourself, and family and stuff like that is just as important. So, that is really way up on my priority list for 2024.

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