An India feature film maker, a television and theatre actor who has outshined in a number of roles…meet Aahana Kumra, who does not believe in adhering to the norms. She lives life on her own terms and values her dreams immensely! Here is a piece of conversation with her.
How did your journey begin as an actor?
My journey as an actor began with a workshop at Prithvi Theatre. I enrolled myself during summer time. I underwent this workshop with Neeraj Kabi who is an accomplished actor and theatre director and I loved what I did in the workshop. At the age of 14, I was exposed to masks, chow and different forms of movements of body and the masks, the face, even the voice. I was completely awestruck and I then worked with Prithvi theatre while I was waiting for my admission in a college. I started assisting Sanjana in the meanwhile. I did everything to be a part of Prithvi theatre, whether it was doing backstage chores for a play or selling tickets and helping out for a festival. I did just about everything in my capacity to be close to the theatre!
How much is privacy important to you in this age of social media?
Privacy is of utmost importance to me in the age of social media. If you ever see my social media page it has almost everything to do with my work and me. I hardly speak about my family and friends. They don’t like the fact that people unnecessarily start following them and it’s very important that you guard other people’s privacy. I am a very private person and I think this right should only be given by my family, if they are okay with me talking about them.
What does acting mean to you?
It means everything to me since I have taken it very seriously. I want to do it for as long as I last, something like Zohra Sehgal did. My inspirations are Naseeruddin Shah and Amitabh Bachchan because it really gives me an immense joy to be performing and to be an actor. I want to do this every day of my life and I don’t have a Plan B! A lot of people ask me that ‘what if this does not work for you, what else do you have in mind?’ they ask. I really don’t have an answer to that but acting is something I wish to do for the rest of my life. I had a lot of opportunities to take up jobs or to do other things. I don’t think I was cut out for those jobs or would enjoy doing it.
The most treasured item in your closet?
My pair of shorts! I love wearing my favourite pair of shorts on a free day. There is a pair of shorts that are very comfortable and a specific T-shirt which is very old, I think I bought it when I was in Class 8. I was 13 then and it still fits me. I love it!
What does your morning routine include?
It includes having a full bottle of water, a glass of lemon water in the morning. I like to go for a run in the morning. Usually when I have a shoot and it’s very early then I don’t have time to go for a run.
One thing you cannot live without?
I can’t live without my mother or my sister and now my nephew.
What is the best and the worst thing about being an actor?
Well, the best thing about being an actor is you get the joy of creating something every day and living different lives all the time. You can explore other people’s lives in one lifetime which I think is a blessing. I don’t think a lot of people get that kind of a blessing! The worst thing about being an actor is that your privacy is always invaded. People would always want to know what are you doing in your private life and I don’t think it’s a nice thing, by the end of the day it’s a profession and people should treat it like a profession, it should not be frivolous and it should not be considered frivolous. A lot of people have ideas about actors that they are very frivolous, I don’t think they are like that. The normalcy of your life sometimes goes away, I see that happening to other people and I don’t want to live by that example!
What advice would you give to a 16-year-old you?
Stay grounded, stay the way you are!
Three things that are always in your bag?
My cellphone, Phone charger and a power bank.
If your days had an extra hour, what you would do?
I would watch one more episode of Game of Thrones.
A millennial you would like to swap life with for a day
Justin Bieber and see what life looks like.
Most memorable acting moment?
The first time I acted in a play was directed by respected Naseeruddin Shah. It was the first time when I was on stage with Motley Productions (a renowned theatre group). For me, it was a big deal and it was a good show! It was the most memorable time when I performed. The other would be when Amitabh Bachchan clapped for me when I did a show in Yudh and he loved what I did.
Favourite movie-maker and why?
Woody Allen because I enjoy what he does with his actors. He allows his actors to do the job instead of the camera doing the job for them. His scripts are fabulous. It would be a privilege to get directed by him.
Favourite fashion designer and why?
Moschino and Webby and Westwood, I just love what they do.
Favourite makeup artist
Back in the days, I really loved what Mickey Contractor used to do. Now I really like what Punit Saini does! He is really like nice and minimalistic; I really like that kind of makeup.
Who is your 3 am friend and why?
I don’t have any 3 am friends because I cannot stay up till 3 am. I am not a night person at all; infact I have the worst moods at night. I sleep very early and if at all I had to wake up somebody in the night then it has to be my sister!
What is the best thing about Hindi cinema?
Music, dance and melodrama.
Do you watch TV shows? If yes, which is your all-time favorite show?
The house of cards, the performances are so gripping and fantastic. Both the male and female protagonists have an equal say and equal scene, a decent screen time and it is something that I haven’t seen before.
Your movie ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’ won 11 international awards prior to its official release. How was the experience?
The experience was phenomenal because I personally went to 6 festivals before the film released in India. I saw the phenomenal reactions it received in every country and every city, from women across the globe. It was exactly the same as was by the Indian women. It is something that completely shook my foundation and it made me realize that women all across the globe are fighting the same battle!
Your fitness mantra
Work out every day and do not skip meals. If I am skipping it then I control my food!
Tell us about your future projects?
I am doing a film called the ‘Accidental Prime Minister’ which should release towards the end of this year. Additionally
there is lot of interesting theatre work going on. Another film called ‘Yours Truly’ had a World Premiere at the Busan Film Festival in early October.