Exclusive: Raashii Khanna on working with Sidharth Malhotra in Yodha, balancing industries and more

Exclusive: Raashii Khanna on working with Sidharth Malhotra in Yodha, balancing industries and more
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Exclusive: Raashii Khanna on working with Sidharth Malhotra in Yodha, balancing industries and more

Raashii Khanna is all set to step into Bollywood’s spotlight with Yodha, where she’s acting alongside Sidharth Malhotra. Portraying a character brimming with depth, Raashii effortlessly transitions from her established success in South Indian cinema to the grand stage of Hindi films. In this exclusive interview, she delves into her aspirations, dreams, and the delicate art of balancing two vibrant film industries. Excerpts:

Raashii Khanna

What attracted you to Yodha, and what can audiences expect from your character?
The first thing that attracted me to Yodha was very honestly the character that was offered to me. It was so fleshed out and it is difficult to get such characters that hold their own specially in commercial films. The next thing obviously was that it was a Dharma film backed by Karan and Apoorva sir. I have grown up watching their films and to end up being in one was a dream come true. And also the fact that I was going to act opposite Siddharth Malhotra who was just basking in the massive success of Shershah. Also, everytime I sign a film, I think about the kind of experience the audience would have watching it. It has to appeal to them. And the way my character is written, I am sure it will appeal to most women whose professional lives sometimes overlap their personal life and impacts their relationships.

Raashii Khanna

What challenges did you face while transitioning from regional cinema to Bollywood, and how did you overcome them?

I am always on a flight.That’s the only challenge I face. Haha. On a serious note, I don’t think there has been any transition at all. I am still actively working in the south. I am trying to balance work in all industries and trying to be everywhere to make it happen. All the industries strive to make good memorable cinema and all of us Indian actors just want to be a part of that.

Raashii Khanna

Are there any dream collaborations or directors you aspire to work with in the future within the Hindi film industry?

There is a huge list of people. I feel like I am just starting out! I want to work with Sanjay leela Bhansali, Raj kumar Hirani, Zoya Akhtar, SS Rajamouli, Aanand L Rai, Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty, Sidharth Anand, Vishal Bharadwaj, Sriram Raghavan, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Hansal Mehta, Meghna Gulzar Vikramaditya Motwane and so many more.

Raashii Khanna

Which character you’ve portrayed so far do you feel has resonated with you the most personally, and why?

That is yet to come. It is the film that I have just finished shooting with Vikrant Massey (written and directed by Bodhayan Chaudhury). I am very grateful to be able to portray an unconventional character that churned my soul. It resonated with me and will resonate with every person who has ever had a heart break and felt lost and dejected after that experience. It is literally like the phoenix story where you rise up after turning to ashes because quite honestly you have no choice. This is where you learn about the strength that’s always been inside you. The experience was extremely enriching and I can’t wait to share that with the audience.

Raashii Khanna

Farzi was an anticipated project where you starred alongside Shahid Kapoor and Vijay Sethupathi. What was the most memorable aspect of working with such talented actors?

When you work with actors like Shahid and Vijay sir, you are pushed to bring out the best version of you. They are like a walking-talking film school. The most memorable aspect for me was the learning curve as an actor. I would just observe them, their mannerisms, their approach to the scenes, have long conversations with them about our craft and talk about the mutual love we shared for this art form. I learnt about what made them the actors that they are today, about the challenges they faced, about how they cracked a certain challenging scene. I could have conversations with both of them the whole day.

Raashii Khanna

As an actor, how do you select your roles? What aspects of a character or story compel you to take on a project?

A character has to appeal to me in some way. I have to be convinced that I will be able to do justice to it. It’s not necessary for me to relate to it fully, I should just understand her story. My dream is to play a variety of roles that are very distinct from each other, convincingly so that I don’t stagnate and become a stereotype. The character should also have an arc or some meaning in the flow of the narrative especially if it’s an out and out commercial film. Sometimes if I like the story and not the character so much, I try to talk to the director to give me space to create my own person.

Raashii Khanna

What pivotal moment or experience in your life steered you towards a career in the entertainment industry?

Ironically, it was the experience I had on the sets of my first film Madras cafe. I felt like I was a lost child who had just found her path. I absolutely loved stepping into the shoes of a character so different from my own and still making her look and sound authentic. I knew in the moments of shooting those scenes that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Acting for me became a means for personal catharsis and with time it became a medium where with a certain performance I could move the audience and invoke different emotions in them, where I could laugh and cry with them and help release my emotion and theirs and heal together. This art form is so powerful & transformative both for the artist and the audience that there is nothing else that would have convinced me to look elsewhere.

Raashii Khanna

In what ways has your perspective as an artiste evolved since the beginning of your career?

I am still constantly evolving and changing as I gain new experiences, learn new skills, and develop a deeper understanding of my art form and the world around me. I have an unwavering commitment towards my craft and I am learning new skill sets everyday. I don’t take anything for granted. I am also not afraid anymore to take artistic risks and challenge myself with diverse and demanding roles. I have become more responsible as a person and as an actor and want to use my voice and the platform I have been given for positive change.

Raashii Khanna

Looking back at your journey, what would you say has been the most important lesson you’ve learned, either personally or professionally?

Personally, the most important lesson I have learnt is to forgive and let go. It is so painfully enriching. I have understood the transient nature of relationships and the complexity of human behaviour and how I can just observe situations and people without letting them affect me. Being non judgemental, empathetic and being centred has brought a lot of peace in my life. Another very important lesson I have learnt is to live authentically. Trying to be someone you are not is exhausting and unfulfilling, especially in this digital age. Embrace your true self, accept your flaws and strengths, and live in alignment with your values and passions. Professionally, I have learnt to be detached from success or failure. Success doesn’t go to my head and failure doesn’t go to my heart. I just embrace life as it comes. Every experience is a lesson. And every lesson helps me grow both personally and professionally. I am just grateful for everything.

Raashii Khanna

You’ve worked across different film industries. How does your experience in South Indian cinema influence your approach to roles in Bollywood?

Regardless of any industry, my approach to roles remains the same. My experience in the South Indian film industry has enriched me as an actor and as a person but I knew from the start of my career about the kind of roles I would choose. I have had my share of commercial films where the story mattered more than my character arc but I have balanced it with films where the characters drew the story forward. And I want to carry this balancing approach in whichever industry that I work in. However, I have more hunger for impactful roles today. I also feel today is a very good time to be a female actor with the diverse kind of roles being written for us. So today, we have better choices to make. Life is short and I want to be remembered for quality work more than quantity.

Raashii Khanna

What kind of roles or stories would you like to explore in the future that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

I feel the need to break certain barriers by portraying complex and nuanced characters that defy stereotypes. There’s so much for me to explore. I want to be part of stories like Rang de Basanti which had such a strong cultural impact on our generation or 3 idiots or just an intensely painful love story like Rockstar or a genre that has never been explored before that moves people. I can’t pinpoint on a certain kind of character I would like to play because there’s so much to explore. I don’t want to be limited by genre or convention. I want to demonstrate my versatility in diverse projects.

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