Yami Gautam lead
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Yami Gautam, in a candid conversation, opens up about her wedding with director Aditya Dhar, her upcoming projects – including Bhoot Police and Dasvi – and the challenges she faces as an actress in the scrutiny-filled times of social media.

Edited excerpts:

Anupama Chopra: You have several films coming up – A Thursday, Dasvi, Bhoot Police to name a few. Does it ever get overwhelming considering how busy you are?

Yami Gautam: I’ve waited for this time since really long and it’s all come together suddenly. I’m very thankful for it. I feel my journey post Vicky Donor has begun now.

I think I just need to absorb myself, be happy and not complain about it. Yes, it can get a little overwhelming, especially when it comes to scheduling. I don’t want to be in a space where you’re not getting enough time to do some homework for every film and character. I don’t believe in just having a volume of films and announcements – which is great, but it doesn’t make any sense if you’re not adding anything to it.

I need to work a lot on myself, which I needed. I’m still doing it, it’ll happen with every film. But I’m also glad that whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m choosing to be a part of, they are all different from one another be it in terms of genres, or roles. And just a little time in between to work on them would be great. And yes, I wouldn’t complain to spend some time with my husband, which I haven’t got enough of (laughs).

AC: When, in the middle of all these films, did you find the time to get married?

YG: As much as it sounds like an irony, but I owe this to the pandemic, to the timing of it. It feels very weird to say this, but the kind of schedules and commitments we both have, we didn’t see this happening this year. We didn’t want to rush such an important moment of our lives. But as they say, when there is God’s will or whenever it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. We didn’t plan it and I think it happened in the most beautiful way. This is actually what I wanted, this is who we are. I’m glad it resonated with so many people. It just felt like they all came together and became a part of a small celebration.

AC: Was it an impromptu wedding?

YG: Absolutely. We started interacting during the promotions of Uri. That is when we started knowing each other and then the friendship started. It had been over 2 years and that’s about it. We were like, ‘Let’s get married.’ Our families were probably even more happy. We were just supposed to get engaged and then wait for the right time to marry. My nani (grandmother) suggested that we should get married. Aditya asked me if I was ready and I said, ‘I don’t know what it means, honestly.’ I still don’t know, I am still not able to absorb the feeling that I’m married. I just feel the same, maybe happier.

AC: You have spoken about the pressure on the women in the Hindi film industry to look a certain way all the time, the pressure to be a brand on an actress, the pressure to cater to your social media audience, which is a whole other set of people and in the millions. With success, do you feel that pressure more, or less?

YG: It depends on what success means to you. For me, it means when people accept you for what you are and you make those rules for yourself. As I said, yes, I am very much aware that we are in an industry where everything is out there, everything is expected to be out there about you, even some the most personal things. 

But I wouldn’t want to be in a space where I’m really overpowered or overwhelmed by this entire scenario. The kind of person I am, I don’t think I can do that. Of course, we have our teams, entourages and people taking care of our digital work. But you need to drive that too. Because this is a trend, we have to put out a picture. If you’re doing Yoga, you have to put out a picture. I say, ‘I can’t do this. If I feel like it, I would.’ The whole idea of Yoga is defeated if this is what comes back to me (laughs).

At times you just know when you want to share a picture. But I think social media started off with a very different purpose – to connect. For me, it was something to do outside my work. Something to do which interests me otherwise. But the problem is, they are talking about this pressure and branding and we’re ourselves somewhere contributing to it. So it has become a circle. We complain of too much paparazzi but then deep down everyone is expecting to be papped and you dressed in a certain way. There has to be an airport look or this is how you should look when you are coming out from somewhere. I would not want it to get into my head.

A couple of weeks back when Dilip Kumar sahab passed away, I went back to his films and saw the kind of work they [his generation of actors] have done, the legacy they have left behind. I thought to myself, “I’m sure they must be dealing with their own pressures at that time but was it because there was less distraction that they could focus more on the craft than these 10,000 things that we’ve [in my generation] become a part of?”

It’s your journey, make your own rules. I make my own. I’ve made my mind, I’ve made peace with, “Okay, if I need to repeat something I will repeat it.” I’m sorry, I will not hire somebody to dress me up to go from one place to another. I can’t do that. There is so much good work which is coming and a lot of talented people are getting really good work. The question is, how will you stand out? And I think it’ll only be with excellence. For that, you need that little focus. I don’t know how others do it, but I’d like to be happy doing whatever I’m doing and do something which I can connect with, not something which is forced on me. This is exactly why I took so long to reach here. Because I never wanted to do something which I didn’t feel from my heart.

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