I didn't enquire about my role in Shyam Benegal's film: Amrita Rao

Mumbai, Sep 11 (IANS) After doing a cameo in "Shaurya", Amrita Rao will be seen as an illiterate village girl in director Shyam Bengal's first comedy "Welcome to Sajjanpur".

Amrita, whose featured in hits like "Main Hoon Na" and "Vivah", says she is a big fan of Benegal and accepted the offer without asking about her role in the film, which is Benegal's first comedy.

"Ever since I had seen 'Zubeidaa', I wanted to work with Shyam Benegal. When I got a call from his office, I was thrilled. When I met him I was in such awe of him - I didn't ask him any questions about the film at all," Amrita told IANS in an interview.

"Welcome to Sajjanpur" is about Indian villages. Like many other villages Sajjanpur has all the modern tools of communication - Internet, email, cell phones, but lacks literacy.

Amirta, who speaks a Hindi dialect spoken in rural Madhya Pradesh, says playing the role was neither too difficult nor easy.

"It was again not too difficult and not too easy. I worked hard on my dialogue delivery. Ashok Mishra, who is the writer as well as the dialogue coach of the film, used to help all of us to get our dialogues right," she said.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Why did you choose to do "Welcome to Sajjanpur"?

A: Ever since I had seen "Zubeidaa", I wanted to work with Shyam Benegal. When I got a call from his office, I was thrilled. When I met him I was in such awe of him - I didn't ask him any questions about the film at all. All I knew at that time was that I want to do this film.

Q: This is Shyam Benegal's first comedy film; what do you have to say about his comic sense?

A: Well, I would like to define Shyamji as somebody with a great sense of humour who just went against contemporary cinema, had courage to make such wholesome cinema, an entertaining film with a beautiful plot.

Q: What made you play the role of an illiterate woman in the film?

A: I loved the way my character develops in the film. The peculiar get up of a villager, the different dialect in which I had to talk, my costumes, the star cast of the film, everything excited me to play my character.

Q: How difficult or easy was it for you to play your character, did you take any references for it?

A: Well I won't say it was very difficult, but it wasn't a cakewalk either. I did take reference for my role by observing village women, watching news on them, spending time with them, visiting small villages, my own search through internet; so basically I did a lot of homework for my role.

Q: Since the film is about writing letters, do you answer your own fan mails?

A: Yes, of course, I do. Whenever I get time, I sit down to answer my fan mails. I write letters to a lot of my cousins too.

Q: How was it working with your co-stars - Shreyas Talpade, Divya Dutta, Ravi Kishan and Ila Arun?

A: Shreyas is a brilliant actor and an amazing co-star. I had a whale of a time working with him. Divya Dutta is super talented, it's fun to be with her. Ravi Kishan is a powerhouse of performance and Ilaji is just adorable, she used to make all of us laugh like crazy on the sets. It was an incredible experience to work with all of them.

Q: All actors speak Hindi in the films, but you have gone one step further and spoken a different dialect of Hindi, how difficult or easy was it for you to learn the accent?

A: It was again not too difficult and not too easy... I worked hard on my dialogue delivery. Ashok Mishra, who is the writer as well as the dialogue coach of the film, used to help all of us to get our dialogues right.

Q: Which Shyam Benegal's film is your personal favourite?

A; That's a difficult question. All his films are excellent but one, which I love the most, is "Zubeidaa". I think it was an amazing film.

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