She was truly the energy of the film. She set the screen on fire without being overly glamorous or swishing her hair around in the typical Bollywood style. Tanya Abrol brought her own touch, energy and most importantly her own special talent to the blockbuster release of 2007, Chak De! India. BollySpice caught up with the phenomenal newcomer to speak about her experience, her aspiration in the industry and the goals she’s set for herself in life. So without further a due, take it away Tanya!
Firstly, how did Chak De happen for you? Did it happen based on auditions or recommendation? Also, what were the emotions you were going through when it was officially announced that you would be working in a Yash Raj project opposite Shahrukh Khan?
I got the role through an audition which happened in Chandigarh. I was studying there and doing well in sports, Judo and Basketball, and one wonderful day Shimit and one of the assistant directors came here to Chandigarh and selected me for the character of Balbir Kaur. Initially, I was a bit scared because of the kind of image Bollywood has in the eyes of a responsible father and of course for me also, but I was happy that I would get a chance to work with King Khan.
Now this is possibly something you’ve been asked a billion times but we simply cannot resist. How was it meeting King Khan for the first time? Was it nerve racking or were you absolutely calm and relaxed? And what was he like when he met you all for the first time?
All the girls met him on the hockey field. I was calm and relaxed because I was never ‘star struck.’ I respect him a lot and I consider myself very lucky to have gotten the chance to work with him.
How was Shahrukh to work with on a day-to-day basis? Did you fall into a routine with him when shooting?
On the very first day he hugged us and played hockey and that was really supportive.
The plot of CDI was strongly based on a group of girls coming together, and this is exactly what happened on the sets when you all came together for the first time for this project. How was the experience of working amongst so many co-artists? Are you still close to all the girls post the release and success?
I was very comfortable with everyone on the set and the field. Artists and the whole crew had great fun working with such wonderful, lovely friends. Yes, I am still in touch with most of the girls especially Chittraashi (Aka Komal Chautala).
CDI is one of the rare movies that has attained both critical and commercial success. What were your expectations from the film?
The first day I read the script and was so sure that this movie will rock, but the problem and my concern was that what will attract the people to see the movie because nobody is interested in watching a movie based on hockey. More than 80% people cannot understand the rules but we had the King of Bollywood with us and the biggest production house with us!
Any particular memorable moment or funny incident from the sets?
Yes, the happiest moment for me was the second day of the shoot. It was 17th August and I still remember the date because it was my very first shot. The scene, my first interaction with Jharkhandi girls, was when I asked them ‘Jungle se aaye ho?’ (have you come from the jungle?) and ‘Haathi pe Delhi tak aaye ho?’ (did you come all the way to Delhi on an elephant?). My director screamed ‘Tanya Makhan (butter) Shot!” I was really happy and till the very last day no artist got the same compliment.
Now Tanya you’re an absolute newcomer to the industry so how is the industry from your perspective? Do you agree with the common notion that it’s a big bad world out there because of elements like the casting couch or has it been rather pleasant experience for you?
Well like I said before, it was a wonderful experience for me and after CDI I am still working in the same industry, but till today nothing like that has happened to me. I met so many people but they talk about work and I think it depends upon you. If you are good, everybody is good and nobody will harm. ‘Jaisi Drishi Vaisi Shristhi’! If you have potential in you, keep on putting in your efforts and keep on working hard and I am sure one day it will all pay off. But you have to be focused.
You’ve obviously had to work hard to get recognized and actually attain such a great debut. How does it make you feel when star kids get dream debuts rather effortlessly compared to those who are absolute newcomers to the industry, such as yourself?
Well, all I can say about that is today audiences are very intelligent and smart. People loved Bheja Fry which was a very small budget movie with superb artists. Today, only those can survive who are good at work, and if star kids are doing good then well, good yaar! Personally I accept them and I mean I appreciate their good work.
Post your debut, have you continued with your studies or do you intend to continue them? Is there an academic career in the making or are you dedicated in pursuing a career in cinema?
Well, I don’t think that I’ll be able to cope with my studies, but I am doing my post graduation diploma in Mass Communication. I finished my graduation only this year.
Finally, what have you taken away from the experience of Chak De as a whole? Has the experience changed as a person and have your grown from it?
Yes, Chak De has given me loads of exposure which builds confidence in you. And of course it has given me a different steam to flow with. Earlier, I wanted to be an IAS Officer but now, yes I am trying my luck in Bollywood with my 100% effort. And also I got to know from the experience that Bollywood is not that bad, but people usually take it in a negative manner here in India.
We are absolutely certain that Tanya’s hard work and effort will pay off and establish her as a prominent figure in Bollywood. But for now and ever, we will remember her as the inimitable and charming Balbir Kaur from Chak De!
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