As Zoa Morani is gearing up for her next release Bhaag Johnny, which hits theatre this Friday, we had a candid conversation with the lady. Playing the female lead opposite actor Kunal Kemmu, Zoa speaks about her character in the film, how she bagged the movie et al.
Read on –
So how did Bhaag Johnny happen?
Vikram Bhatt called me one day and asked to come for a story he had in mind. It was really different and engaging, it kept me and my mother at the edge all along and was something I had not heard off in recent times. I said yes in an instant. Then he made me meet Shivam Nair, the director. He had a few meetings with me to know whether I suit the character and we started shooting eventually.
Always Kabhi Kabhi released in 2011. What prompted the gap before your second film?
It wasn’t intentional. I just chose to prepare myself better and do films where my character makes sense and a difference to the plot. Honestly, belonging to a filmy family I have seen the effort it takes to make a film and how essential it is to love what you are doing. I took time to settle for the script that would challenge me as an actor and Bhaag Johnny happens to be one of them. Also films aren’t the only medium of performance. Theater kept me busy in between. I worked in back to back plays, one of them written by Gulzaar Saab and the medium really changed me as an actor. But now that I am back, I would try that you see more of me in future.
How different is Taniya from your role in the previous film?
Well, she is miles away from Nandini of Always Kabhi Kabhi. Nandini was a school girl. She was brash, naughty and kind of rebellious. She was immature and hadn’t seen much of life. Taniya, on the other hand is much more stable considering she lives on her own in Thailand. However, you don’t see much of her personal self in the film as the story is situational. She happens to be in a situation where she has to trust a stranger who turns up in front of her and that’s how the story moves forward.
And how was Kunal Khemu as a co-actor to work with?
Kunal has been really fun and interesting to work with. He has a remarkable wit which use to keep us on our toes always. He comes with years of experience and the best thing about him lies in his ability to switch moods. One moment he is cracking jokes and laughing at something and the next moment, when the camera is on, he is fully into his character. That is a quality I would like to master as well.
Now that you have been on both sides. How different would you say is theatre from films?
As mediums, both are strikingly different. In theater, everything is larger than life so you need to open up and go all out. The connect with the audience is instant and so is the feedback. Whereas on the set, things are more minimized and tightened. Most importantly, there are no retakes in theater. You are on stage and whatever you do has to be in one go. That instills a lot of confidence in an actor. But at the end, it’s about performance and calls for the same skill sets.
Would you say you are a better actor now?
That’s for the audience to comment on but what I do know for sure is that I am much more confident now about myself, my work and what I portray on screen. Earlier, I use to be intimidated with so many cameras and tend to get nervous but that has died down. I continue to learn a lot from theater with every passing day, the finer nuances of acting and the ability to enjoy the art.
You have grown up on cinema. Share with us some favourites.
I have always been a fan of the Khan trinity. I love all of them, even Saif for that matter and have enjoyed watching their films. Hum Apke Hain Kaun, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and many others. I have seen them all for multiple times.
Romance seems to be your genre then…
Not really though I love the films. If you truly ask me, I would love to a comedy film next. I recently did this comedy play which I thoroughly enjoyed and that’s one genre I definitely want to do more of. But as an actor, as long as the story interests me, I am happy to explore all genres.
And what about the director wish list?
That’s never-ending. Every day some name or the other keeps getting added. There are so many notable filmmakers in Bollywood and I would love to work with all of them. Not only the popular ones, even the new lot of directors who are making content driven films, I wish to work with them as well.
What’s SRK like as a mentor?
He is as inspiring to me as he is to the rest of the world. His life in itself is a lesson for all of us to follow and learn from. For a man of his stature, to still put in so much effort in his work and be extremely humble and accommodating for everyone around are qualities we must strive to accomplish.
The music of the film has generated a good hype. What do you like about the soundtrack?
I believe the soundtrack of Bhaag Johnny is a proper mix of soulful renditions and peppy dance numbers which works with audiences today. My favourite track from the film is Kinna Sona, a slow romantic number featured on me and Kunal.