Jayati Modi: I can do anything to act with Shahrukh Khan

Lalit Modi’s niece Jayati Modi makes her debut in Sonam Nair’s Gippi and plays a hoity-toity bully in the film

Jayati Modi denies rumours that she got the meaty role in Gippi ‘coz of her uncle’s recommendation. She found out about the auditions and all just worked out right, even though she still doesn’t know how, since her trial was terrible, she insists. There’s an aura of glamour and infectious confidence that surrounds her, as if she is meant to be a huge commercial star some day, when she is prepared to romance heroes and do jhataak flimi dancing. But all that has to wait till the 18-year-old finishes her undergraduate studies in the US, and returns after four years to pursue her dreams of working with super-cool hero Shahrukh Khan and the oh-so-gorgeous Deepika Padukone…

Tell me something about your role…

My character  is the role-model of the school. She is the most popular girl and is amazing at sports. She’s good-looking and has everything going for her, which gives her an ego boost, and she’s made that very apparent to everyone in the school. And because of that she has made a lot of enemies and friends – mostly enemies (laughs).

What are you like in real life?

There are aspects of the character I relate to, but at the same time I wouldn’t say that I am absolutely like the character. I am slightly more humble. I am just about alright in studies and sports.

Does it ever make you feel insecure that your identity will be restricted to being Lalit Modi’s niece?

I am proud to be his niece. Our family is very close to his. I am glad that I am related to him. It’s an honour.

How did the role happen?

Basically through word of mouth, and I just went for it. When I was there for the auditions, I completely freaked out. Sonam (Nair) and the assistant director coaxed me to audition for the film and it was terrible. I didn’t even think in my wildest dreams that I would be called back.

How was your chemistry with Riya Vij (Gippi)?

There is an age difference; I am four years older than her, but I am really good friends with Riya. We spent two months together shooting for the film. She is like my younger sister. It was great bonding.

I don’t see a trace of anxiety on your face even though this is the first time you are doing media interviews and  promotional events…

I have been nervous throughout the process, but it’s all going pretty smooth.

So you want to continue acting?

I am planning to go to college this year and I am not going to sacrifice my undergrad studies for acting, even though it’s a dream.

Tell me something about your first take…

My first take was actually without dialogues. We were shooting a song and the restless person that I am, I just couldn’t stand in one place. I was super hyper. Just to make me stand still, they placed sand bags under my feet. Also when the camera was on, I forgot all my dialogues that I had rehearsed time and again. The first scene was not too great, but over time it got better.

Any fun anecdotes…

There were times when a scene had to be re-shot or cancelled ‘coz there was a fly on my face. Then there were fun picnic scenes which had to be cut ‘coz someone would start eating in that sequence even though they were supposed to just sit still. We goofed up, we fell a lot – my role might be that of a perfect character, but there were times when I felt exactly like Gippi off screen. I remember there was a scene in which the camera had to focus on my legs and just minutes before that, I cut my shin.

Who would you kill to share screen space with?

The two people I would be honoured to be on the same sets with would be Deepika Padukone and Shahrukh Khan. It doesn’t matter if the character is small or big.

Kids should be allowed to act before completing their education – what do you think?

I feel like even though I am older and a very social person, I never had the experience of an independent work life. It really made me grow up, made me realise what hard work means. I was 17 while shooting, but for a younger kid it can be really taxing. That’s the only reason I think a child shouldn’t be allowed to act in films – it’s super hectic.