Come Friday, Bollywood will see the arrival of two new actors, Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher. Both of them come from industry families and are making their debut in this week's big release, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's (Delhi 6, Rang De Basanti) interpretation of the epic folklore Mirza Sahiban, Mirzya.
The story has been penned by Gulzar, who has written a film after 17 years (his last feature film screenplay was for Hu Tu Tu in 1999) and the music, composed by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, has been generally well-received.
Over a phone conversation, HuffPost India chatted with the film's leading lady, 24-year-old Saiyami Kher, who is actress Tanvi Azmi's niece.
When she was finalised for the role of Sahiban in Mirzya, family friend and supermodel Sushma Reddy took her for a drive, explaining the challenges that lay ahead.
"She told me upfront — the industry can really have a bad influence on you as a person as it is easy to get swayed away by all the attention. She told me there are actors who ruined themselves by getting used to alcohol and developed an addiction to drugs. She said that I will have to be careful with the choices that I make, particularly about the friends I keep. It took a while for me to take it all in, but she was making complete sense."
Saiyami says that Sushma, who's had a successful career as a model, knew well the perils of stardom and her warning has stayed with her, especially now when everyone has been showering her with attention.
"She also said the people you meet while going up are the same ones you meet while coming down. So never let the success go to your head or the failure to your heart. I think it was important for me to go on that drive. The point that she was making was that it is extremely difficult to stay grounded and not lose yourself in Bollywood."
Though it's her Hindi film debut, Mirzya is not Saiyami's first film. She has acted in a 2015 Telugu film called Rey and has quite a funny memory of that one.
"It was an over-the-top mainstream masala film with lots of song and dance. The whole experience was hilarious. But what it really did for me was that it made me shed my inhibitions as a performer. I opened up and wasn't camera-shy anymore. That eventually found its way in a more nuanced film like Mirzya. Hopefully, people will like it."
Ask her about the directors on her wish list and she says, "Imtiaz Ali, Sriram Raghavan, and Aanand L Rai."
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