You may have seen her on the television munching on Sunfeast biscuits with Shah Rukh Khan. If not, then you’ve seen her adorning the Miss International 2005 crown. Either way, Vaishali Desai is all set to make her debut on the big screen. The aspiring actress is the grand-niece of the renowned Late Manmohan Desai of Amar Akbar Anthony and Coolie fame. Back to Vaishali, the ex-model has shifted base from Bangalore to Mumbai and is awaiting June 12th when her entrance into the world of cinema will unveil her as an actress. Kal Kissne Dekha is all set for release, where Vaishali will be starring opposite Jackky Bhagnani. BollySpice spoke to this new kid on the block, as she speaks about her first film, modeling and expectations of her reputated last name.
From modeling to acting, how did you gain an interest in cinema?
I started modeling in Bangalore, I’m from there. In 2005, I went to participate in the Miss International competition. After that, I did a lot of commercials for Ponds, Raymond’s, Tanishq and the latest one being Sunfeast with Shah Rukh Khan. I had met Vivek Sharma when I had come to Mumbai; he’s like family to me. He told me he would launch me three years later and that’s what happened. Three years down the line, I am doing his film. That’s how I met Vashu Uncle. We had a couple of meetings and then it was decided that I would be the lead actress of Kal Kissne Dekha. So that’s how it happened. But as I was a model and always doing commercials, I was always interested in acting from beginning. This is my first break and I’m really excited!
I bet you are! Are you nervous?
I am nervous but I’m really really excited because of late whatever we have been doing right from our promotions to the music launch, the response has been very positive. So it’s making me more excited rather than nervous.
Did you have to go to any film school or take up any training for acting?
I used to do a lot of theater in school and college. But besides that, I did a month’s course with the Anupam Kher’s Acting Academy which was the equivalent of a summer class. Besides that, I don’t have any formal training. Though I have taken training in dance. I’ve done Bharatnaytam and Kathak. But no training in acting.
I guess that is because of the genes you have inherited from your grand-uncle right?
Yes, Manmohan Desai is my grand-uncle — my dad’s mama (mother’s brother). A lot of people have said grand-daughter, but he’s my grand-uncle.
Yeah, I had to research that! So is that nerve-wrecking or motivating because he has great reputation in the industry.
Yes, it is nerve-wrecking from my entire family. My mom’s side of the family is more into politics and my dad’s side are more into film distribution and exhibition. So from the beginning, they asked me if I would be able to act because all of them have been behind the camera, and I would be the first one to be in front of the camera. They were a little apprehensive in the beginning. But after they’ve seen the songs and promo’s, they are more confident now and know that Vaishali can act!
What’s your role in Kal Kissne Dekha?
I play this very rich, bratty, spoilt college going student, who is full of attitude and dresses like Paris Hilton. She’s like the talk of the town in college. But as Nihaal Singh, the hero of the film, Jackky Bhagnani, enters the film, her life changes. She becomes mellower and you see a softer side to Meesha Kapoor, which is the name of my character. There are a lot of different facets to the character of Meesha, so you’ll see all those different emotions in her from arrogance to attitude. So I think it’s a good graph.
Is she very similar to you or very different?
She’s not similar to me in terms of attitude and arrogance, but very similar to me when she is mellower and softer. That’s how I am in reality. I’m not as glamorous as I look in the film (giggles). I dress down in reality.
How did you prepare for the role?
We had workshops in the beginning. Vivek Sir used to brief us in the sense that everyday he would tell me something new about my character. We never used to rehearse that much but everyday before we would shoot, he would say that if you were Meesha Kapoor in the particular situation, how would you behave or react. It was more natural spontaneous reactions that he wanted.
I think the preparation basically was more focused on my look; acting, Vivek Sir wanted us to go by instinct more than preparing for a particular role as such.
How was it working with Vivek Sharma, the director?
It was great working with Vivek Sir. It was a pleasure working with him because as debutants you generally need some creative space, where you need to go through the dialogues and understand the scene. Also, in my first film, I’m getting to play my age. I’m playing a college student which is a great way to start off with, which I believe will help to do various characters in the future. So in that sense it’s been great working with him. And also, he’s been absolutely patient with us, where he has given us that space where we can be thinking actors rather than methodically doing something in front of the camera. So he has helped us grow as actors.
And working with the Bhagnani’s—Jackky and Vashu?
Well, it was a pleasure working with them as well. Vashu Uncle is the number one producer in the industry which everyone knows. He has given us a lot of input and has worked really hard regarding the promotion and media, the music, on the sets. He took care of everything right from the accommodation to the food to the technicians providing them with what they require, what they don’t. So he has always been there. For Jackky, from day one we hit it off as friends and started understanding each other very well. He has been very supportive, very nice, and very hard working and he’s a fabulous dancer. Absolutely amazing, because being a producer’s son, you would think he would throw tantrums and have demands, but he adapted to any circumstances, and never complained about anything. He was one among all of us so it didn’t make a different that he was the producer’s son. So it was really nice working with him.
How is the music of the film in your opinion? I’ve heard the music and it’s really great.
I love the music too! People have also started liking and loving the music of the film. The music, I would say, is for every genre and age. It is for the young people and the older people. If you see the soft romantic numbers, that every genre would enjoy, and then there are a lot of club mixes like ‘Jashn Hai’, ‘Josh Hai’ and ‘Soniye Billori’, for the young, then we have ‘Tere Bin’ which is the more sad and nostalgic. So it is a typical commercial album that people would want associate themselves with.
What do you hope to achieve from acting? Direction? Restart your grand-uncles production company?
A lot of people ask me that, do you want to get into direction or production, but as of now, for a few years, I am just looking at acting. With acting, I want to learn more about the mechanics of direction which I have already started with my first film. In the sense that, I’m beginning to understand the angles and lighting, all of that.
Which is easier—modeling or acting?
(Laughs) I think modeling is much easier. Modeling is walking on the ramp, carrying off the clothes, which is also not easy because of a lot things go into it right from fitting to your make up and your hair. More than difficult, I would say acting is more expressive place to be in because you have to connect with the audiences. There is a lot of physical and mental involved in it. So I think acting is much more strenuous, and people expect a lot more from you rather than modeling. And I enjoy being in front of the camera!
How was it working with Shah Rukh in the Sunfeast ad?
Oh it was great working with him! He is a thorough gentleman, makes you feel very comfortable. He helped me a lot when I did the commercial with him. He would come up and tell me, let’s do it like this or like that. He had a lot of input to give me which was really nice. He’s also one of the most approachable people I’ve come across. He has no airs, no attitude. I would say he’s real.
How has the move from Bangalore to Mumbai been?
I love Mumbai! It’s always been my second home, now it’s my first home. I used to come to Mumbai a lot to see my grand-uncle, my cousins from both my mum and dad’s side. So I always used to come to Mumbai whenever I had holidays. For me, it wasn’t difficult to come and settle here. I enjoy being in Mumbai. Bangalore is more laid back and is more “paradise-like” as they put it. But I love Mumbai and I think opportunity wise and whatever I want to do in my future, will happen here.
Who are your favorites in the industry?
I would say a combination of Madhuri Dixit, Madhubala, Sridevi and Rekha. (Laughs) I know that’s being a little greedy but they have always been my icons.
What advice have some of the senior actors given you?
Whatever interaction I’ve had with the senior actors in the industry, they’ve had to say only good things about us. And yes, they have given us tips for the future such as how to interact with the press, or the clothes, or even if they’ve seen certain songs or scenes, they’ve given us good advice on how to better it. They’ve told us how to improve so that way yes, it’s been very encouraging.
Two reasons why people watch Kal Kissne Dekha?
I would say firstly because, of the script. It’s something very different fun college based film. Secondly, I would say for the senior actors like Rishi Kapoor, Satish Shah; there are some cameos by Juhi Chawla and Sanjay Dutt who are doing special appearances for us. I would also say for the music. Lastly, but not least (giggles), for Jackky and I. We’ve put in a lot of hard work so everyone should watch it at least once!
Any message for your soon-to-be fans?
I would say firstly watch Kal Kissne Dekha. There is more to come in the future. Be positive in life, like I have been and also never lose hope! That’s one thing that I’ve learnt in my life—never to give up.
Vaishali Desai is confident, talented and here to stay. BollySpice wishes the newcomer the best of luck in her future projects. Catch Kal Kissne Dekha this Friday at a cinema near you!