This week's First of Many features Shenaz Treasury. In the 95th edition of our series, the actor-host-travel vlogger talks about her Bollywood debut film Ishq Vishk (2003), co-starring Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao.
An actor, VJ, host, writer, travel vlogger and content creator — Shenaz Treasury is a woman of many talents. Shenaz might not have done innumerable acting projects, but she’s always been a face to reckon with in front of camera. Shenaz had a long association with MTV. Her select few movies include Delhi Belly, Aagey Se Right, Luv Ka The End and Kaalakaandi.
Today, Shenaz hops continents as part of her travel videos on her YouTube channel, but for many she is still the vivacious girl who made heads turn in Ken Ghosh’s popular coming-of-age romance-drama Ishq Vishk. The 2003 hit film starred Amrita Rao and Vishal Malhotra, and was also the debut movie of Shahid Kapoor. How did all of this fall into place when Shenaz was happy with her regular job of a VJ, and never aspired to enter Bollywood? Here’s what she shared:
How did you land a role in Ishq Vishk?
My first big acting role was Ishq Vishk. I had just taken a break from MTV at that time and was going to New York to study acting. I told them I will return in three months but I stayed for six months, and MTV was really upset with me. I returned sometime after 9/11 and it was chaos in the US. At the airport, I lost my baggage. Basically I had no job, no clothes, nothing. I had a film camera and was really into photography. But everything that I owned, all the pictures were gone. One day, I was at a nightclub, wearing my mom’s clothes, trying to have a good time. I met Ken Ghosh there. He looked at me and said “You’re the girl from MTV. Why don’t you come tomorrow to audition for a movie?” I never thought about doing Bollywood, but I thought something is better than nothing. I remember Shahid being there. We acted a few scenes together and by the end of the evening, Ken said I was in the movie. And once I was doing the movie, MTV started missing me as well and they invited me back. So I got my job at MTV back as well.
What do you remember of your first day on set?
First day on set was at Sophia College and we were shooting the song “Kaun Hai Woh”. I remember Ken put a lot of stress on me. He liked me as an actor but he thought I was too fat, which is true. And so he kept telling me I need to lose five kilos as other actress in the movie were so thin and we would look awkward together. I was trying to lose weight. That day on set, he said no food for me (laughs). They decided to do a slow motion scene with me lip syncing but no one instructed me how that is to be done. I remember doing that with a blow in my hair but not knowing how to do that slow motion. It was hot because it was the middle of summer and I was wearing a red dress. I just remember being really hungry.
Were you nervous?
I wasn’t nervous. I was just hungry. I was more nervous about Ken telling me I was fat all the time. That made me more nervous. I was trying to lip sync the song in slow motion, which I didn’t really understand, but it was fun. I had been in front of the camera before because I used to be a VJ. So that was kind of easy for me. I remember the choreographer teaching me the steps, and I was like, ‘I know that I’m a good dancer, I have rhythm, but I don’t do this choreographed dancing.’ And the other actress in the movie kept doing it. I though I need to also do it, so I was trying to get it.
How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?
I see Shahid sometimes at the gym. He’s a really sweet guy. We were good friends at that time. Although now we’re not really in touch. He used to tell me that I got to be something more than a VJ. I guess I wasn’t that serious about it. I had this regular job at MTV which I really enjoyed and I didn’t want to leave that for Bollywood. I had a good equation with Shahid. I had been on camera, he hadn’t. He was completely fresh. I guess when we went to Cape Town, that was the first time he was on a plane. It was fun. We really got along. Amrita and I didn’t really hit it off. That’s the truth.
If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
I would definitely not wear those contact lenses. In the movie, there is a line “Neeli neeli aankhon waali kaun hai woh,” so the director insisted that I wear contact lenses, and then the makeup artist used to poke them into my eyes. When I went to do the scene I would see two Shahids, two Amritas. I couldn’t even see clearly because my eyes just can’t take them. I would ask if I could take them off and just be natural. I think the contact lenses made me blink a lot so I didn’t like that when I watched the movie but it worked for the character because she was that kind of fun character. I would also insist on not wearing that much makeup. Now when I do my videos, I actually do it without makeup. Those were the little things I would change. But no regrets. Everybody loves the movie. They’ve watched it 20-25 times. So I’m sure whatever came out in the end was amazing.
I was very young and I think I did my best I could for my first movie. I was even nominated for Filmfare Award for Best Supporting role that year. Very few people are lucky to have hit movies. And my first movie was a huge hit and then Delhi Belly was a huge hit. I’ve not done that many Bollywood movies but I have two huge hits so that’s pretty awesome. I feel lucky and blessed. Seriously I feel like God’s blessed child because whatever I do, I put in my 100 percent, but I also think there’s some element of luck.
One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
I wasn’t allowed to watch movies as a child, my parents wanted me to read books and that’s it. So I’ve barely watched movies. Actually when people asked me what I wanted to do, I said I want to travel the world. I’m doing that now – traveling, making content, films, so I’m doing what I always want to do. Of course I love acting too. It’s really fun. But when you’re acting, your career is dependent on someone who’s casting you. You’re always in that very needy position which I hate, like “oh please pick me, cast me.” Whereas now, I shoot myself, I edit, I make the content. My life is in my own hands.
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