By Asjad Nazir
She may only be one film old, but rising star Athiya Shetty is captivating the attention of Bollywood, media and a growing legion of fans.
The newcomer is becoming a fashion icon and is in demand with film producers. She has been shooting for her second film Mubarakan in London and plays a key role in the comedy of
errors, which also stars Anil Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Ileana D’Cruz.
Eastern Eye caught up with the beautiful Athiya on a sunny afternoon in London to find out more about a talented actress who will no doubt be in the industry for a long time to come.
When you become a movie star your life changes. Have you got used to all the attention yet?
I still think I am too new to answer that. I don’t think anything has changed. I don’t think it will ever change how my friends and people treat me. But I like that fact things haven’t changed yet and I can still be the same person. Obviously things have changed where I feel like I have become more independent, but nothing in terms of, like, me being an actor has changed anything in my personal life.
Do you feel pressure about the fact you have to be dressed up all the time when you are going out?
(Laughs) No I don’t. People always ask me this question. I also think its important not to take yourself so seriously and just be comfortable in your own skin and at the end of the day,
we are all normal people. I think it’s important to let others know that as well. Like when we do magazine shoots, that is not how we wake up. It takes a lot of effort to look like that, so I don’t feel the pressure to dress up every time I go out. Or put make up on all the time and do my hair. It’s really nice to feel normal.
Your father is renowned actor Suniel Shetty and you have many well-wishers in Bollywood, including huge stars. How are you making your choices and who are you listening to?
I would like to believe I am independent. My parents have always been my guiding force, but at the end of the day they always make sure that I make my own decisions. I think that is really important because then you don’t have anyone to blame. If you make mistakes its OK, it’s just a learning process. That is how you go forward in life. Not only in this profession, but I think in life itself and any career. You have to make your decisions at the end of the day that you feel were yours.
Have you made a master plan?
(Laughs) I do have a master plan Asjad! I think as of now I am just grateful for what I have. I’m trying to go with the flow. The thing is I am the type of person who doesn’t enjoy the moment and always think about the future. I am trying really hard to take each day as it comes and enjoy the moment because I feel that is important.
What has the experience of shooting for your latest film Mubarakan in London been like?
I love London! It is my favourite city. I come here twice a year, but I think through Mubarakan I have been able to see the different parts of London. Usually, I am always in central London shopping or eating, but I think through this film I have seen so much more. I have experienced more of the Indian culture in London, which is nice because there is so much togetherness and unity. It is so nice to see how everybody is so warm and friendly.
What has been the most interesting London location you have shot at?
There have been so many. We shot at one of the biggest Gurdwaras in Europe. It was just so nice to see how people care about you so much and make sure that you are OK. They didn’t
need to do that, but it was so sweet of them to let us into their homes and let us be a part of their community – they make you feel like it is your home.
Are you allowed to tell us anything about Mubarakan?
Nothing! All I can say at this stage is that it is a comedy and lots of fun. A lot of actors have said comedy is perhaps the hardest genre.
How are you finding it?
It is a lot of fun. I think it’s all about the timing and improvising. But yes, it is very difficult. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. You have to keep finding your own rhythm. That takes a bit of time, but once you are into it and having fun, it shows on screen. You just have to be honest to your work.
Anil Kapoor is known to have more energy than many actors half his age. How do you keep up with him and what is he like to work with?
He does. I can’t keep up with him. He has so much energy and it is just infectious. We try to steal some of his energy whenever we can. Even on a night shoot he is the most pumped and alive. I just admire that about him so much – that he is still, after so many years, excited to be on set.
Have you had any time to do anything else in London or have you just been working?
I have literally just been working. Whenever I am not working I try to eat as much as possible at all my favourite places in London. I’m actually doing that as well today.
What has been the best piece of advice you have received so far?
I am still trying to understand the advice and perhaps it is too soon to live by it. But my dad told me never to fear a Friday. Don’t base what you do and don’t want to do around a Friday. Fridays come and go; just be happy and that should be your motive.
If you could be romanced by any leading man on the big screen, who would it be?
Ryan Gosling, for sure, and Ranveer Singh. Those two are my favourites.
What is your favourite movie of all time?
It may sound clichéd, but it is Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. One of the main reasons I love it is because it was shot in Europe and it became my childhood dream to do the same – to shoot somewhere in Europe and experience winter in a film.
Your styling choices have been really eye-catching and unique. You
are becoming quite the fashionista. How have you decided on your fashion choices?
Thank you! I think I would have to thank my stylist Ami Patel for that. But besides that I have never set out to be known for fashion or anything like that. It’s something that just happened. To be honest, I don’t think so much about it. I don’t see it, but have been told about my fashion. I just enjoy putting things together, like clothes and like shopping.
What are your big passions away from work?
I love dancing. I just like doing very simple normal things. If I have a day off all I will do is just hang out with friends, go and eat amazing food and watch TV shows. I love TV shows and my favourite is Grey’s Anatomy. I like doing quiet things, I’m not a social person. I don’t like going out at night and stuff like that. I would rather do something quiet with friends.
Your brother Ahan Shetty is also entering films. He is getting a lot of attention even before his first movie. How is he coping with that?
I don’t think it has really hit him. What I really love about him is that he is extremely hard working. He focuses all his energy into his work and channels everything into that. He never takes it in as if, “oh everybody is talking about me”. He just responds by working even harder. I think that is really amazing.
What inspires you today?
To make my parents proud.
There are a lot of biopics being made. Which real life character would you love to play?
A lot of people have asked me this question and I really don’t know. Maybe someone in sports. I would love to do a sport or action-orientated film.
Why do you love cinema?
When you are on a film set you feel like you’re in your own little bubble. I feel blessed that I wake up everyday and do what I love. It doesn’t feel like a job.