After causing more than a few heads to turn in debuting opposite Sonam Kapoor in Aisha, Bollywood actress Amrita Puri is ready for her sophomore film, Blood Money, which opens this weekend all across India. Directed by Vishal Mahadkar and also starring Kunal Khemu, Ms. Puri shared some insight on how she approached her role as Arzoo in the diamond trafficking film formerly known as Jannat 2. She also shared her thoughts about how acting on stage helped her strengthen her skills in front of the camera, and her desire to diversify her filmography with unique roles.
Simran Mody: You’re not just a film actor, as you’ve done some work in theatre. Has one helped you become better in the other?
Amrita Puri: I have done a lot of theatre. I love it because there is a lot more creativity in it, and it helps me keep my acting skills sharp. I keep learning lots of new things when I am doing theatre.
SM: Blood Money is now your second film after Aisha. What is your impression of Bollywood as a film industry so far?
AP: It took me two years of auditioning, after which I got Aisha. For a person like me, who is from a non-film background, it is very difficult to get into films. The number of young people who want to get into the industry is huge, but very few make it big. I consider myself very lucky. But I had to work very hard for this opportunity. And it feels great that whatever work I got has been on the basis of my performance.
SM: It was not just the industry people you had to prove yourself to, but it also took you some time to gain acceptance from your family, right?
AP: I don’t come from a film background. It took me two years to convince my father. That was the hard part, because I did not want to do it without his support. Once he agreed, it took me good three years of struggle to reach where I am today.
SM: What has been your greatest challenge, working in Bollywood so far?
AP: I have spent a lot of time hopping from one audition to another. Sometimes the crowd would spill on the road and we would be standing and waiting for our call. This phase is very difficult. I have a lot of respect for newcomers because you do need a lot of courage for this.
SM: What kind of roles are you looking for? Can you tell us about your role in Blood Money?
AP: I did not want to get stereotyped. That is why, after Aisha, I was very particular about the kind of roles I select. My role in this film is very different from Aisha. I play a middle class girl from Mumbai who gets married to the character played by actor Kunal Khemu, who goes to Capetown. Kunal starts to work in a small business of diamond exporting, and then life takes a twist. I have a very nice character graph. I play a very sweet girl. She is a very black-and-white character, but her personality goes through a change when Kunal gets involved in the diamond trade. It affects their relationship, and she gets isolated and withdrawn, but she is a strong woman. I enjoyed doing the role.
SM: Speaking of Kunal, what can you tell us about working with him?
AP: He has been doing films since he was very young. His craft is very sharp. He was very helpful on the sets.
SM: It does not seem you are being typecast when you jump from supporting role in your debut film to leading role in your second film. What have the first two films taught you?
AP: Playing a lead role means getting the limelight, but with everything else, it comes with a lot of responsibility and pressure. I hope I am able to live up to the expectations and the film does well.
SM: You impressed a lot of people when you starred alongside Sonam Kapoor in Aisha, yet it took one whole year before Blood Money came around. Was that by choice?
AP: When I was doing Aisha, I was getting a lot of supporting roles, but I told myself that my next film has to be a lead because it is a different experience when you play the lead. It gives you a lot more responsibility. I did not want to settle for something which did not convince me.
Be sure to check out Amrita Puri in ‘Blood Money.’ The film hits theaters around the world on March 30, 2012.