Being Bhama

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neha-sharmaFor Neha Sharma, the movie Solo is a double delight. A bilingual, it marks her debut in two south Indian languages — Tamil and Malayalam. “I am so excited,” says Neha in a telephonic interview. “In Solo, I play a girl, who is full of life. Since it is a bilingual, the character has two names in two languages. In Tamil, she is Akshara whereas in Malayalam she is Bhama. She is vivacious and a rebel. Bhama is in a relationship with Rudra, the character played by Dulquer. They have a beautiful love story,” says Neha, adding, “The plot is amazing. It is something that has not been done before.”  The recently released lyric video of the Roshomon song from Solo had some beautiful stills, giving glimpses of Bhama and Rudra’s love story. “Did you like the song?” she asks and adds, “Bejoy has worked very hard on music.”

Solo, an anthology, comprises four stories. “I am acting in the ‘army track’, in which army forms the backdrop,” says Neha. “It was wonderful. This is one film that I will remember forever. And, Bejoy is one of those directors I have become a fan of. In the industry, people may have a lot of other reasons like money for doing a film. But Bejoy is passionate about his work. His script is important to him. Acting in Solo has truly been a wonderful and blissful journey for me. It was a young crew and all have played their part well,” explains Neha. “And, of course, Dulquer. It was easy to work with him. He is pleasant, kind, generous and makes sure the team is in sync. Above all, he respects women,” she adds.

It was, in fact, for a Hindi project that Bejoy first approached Neha. “It was long back. We were excited to work on that subject but due to some reasons it didn’t take off. I have been yearning to work with Bejoy because he tries to do things differently. Then, he called me and told me that he wanted to discuss an idea with me. He narrated one story (not ‘army track’) from Solo when we met. I was like, ‘Wow! This is so cool’ and then he briefed me about the ‘army track’. As actors, we are selfish. When listening to a story, we think of the significance of our character in that story. But when Bejoy narrated this story, all I wanted was to be a part of it,” says Neha with a smile. She explains, “When I reached the sets, I realised the depth of my character. She treads her own path and they have beautifully captured it. From day one, sitting in my chair saying ‘Oh my god! I have to do this’ to finishing the shooting with the feeling ‘Yes! Finally, I have been part of a film I can be proud of..’, it was a splendid experience.”

Was it difficult for her to render dialogues in Solo? “I speak only Tamil in this film. It was not so tough, but not easy either,” she says with a laugh. “I felt so much love on this film’s set. Tamil is alien for me. I was struggling with my lines. But everyone on the set was quite supportive. They were really patient.”  Although Neha made her acting debut a decade ago with the Telugu movie Chirutha directed by Puri Jagannadh, she then moved to Bollywood where she did a few films. She had an unexpected entry into films. She was a fashion designing student in Delhi when this episode happened. “It is called beginner’s luck. In college, students would do modeling to earn money. I was also doing the same. So, I had a few pictures taken. My agency sent those photos to Chirutha’s people, seeing a casting call. Somehow, my pictures got shortlisted,” says Neha.

The rest, as we say, is history. Her agency got a call from Puri’s office. There was a small screen test and Neha was in. The shooting was in New Zealand, which was the exciting part for Neha, the college student. “I was passionate about films but never knew I could be an actor. The movie was so good. I could travel and wear different kinds of clothes. Looking back, I feel it was a great experience. I could do so many things in a single movie — songs, action, and stunts. It was a joyful crazy ride,” she recounts those days.  And, she knows it is going to be a tough journey. She is well aware of how Fridays (when movies release) change an actor’s destiny. “It is not easy, even for industry kids,” she says. “Cinema has made me a calmer and more practical person. It taught me there is no shortcut. You will have to work hard and maintain the pace. Criticisms will always be there and you have to be brave to take that in the right spirit. But the joy of doing something you are passionate about will erase all struggles,” concludes the actor, who wants to act in memorable films.