First of Many: Ayesha Raza Mishra revisits Andhakar

Ayesha Raza Mishra, whose plays, television shows and web series have been credited with Bollywood’s heartbeat with Dil Dhadakne Do (2015). She played memorable roles in films like Befikre, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Veere The Wedding and Student of the Year 2.

Last year, the actor was seen playing important roles in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Ginni Weds Sunny and Laxmi Devi.

But how did it all start for Ayesha Raza Mishra? What has the actor shared here

1. Which was your first project? How did the project come to you?

During my theater days in Delhi, I used to take part in a show on ETV Urdu and also did small roles. Its sound engineer Anil Saxena asked me to call me when I came to Mumbai. Finally, when I came here, I stayed with a friend for a week and then in PG. I wanted to make it on my own. I called Anil Saxena and asked him to tell me that there was no work. He told me that he was shooting for the Doordarshan show and that I should come to Mad Island. It was within a week or ten days of arriving here. I was very new. I had to ask my friend how to reach this bungalow on Mad Island. I managed somehow. It was an episodic horror series called Darkness and this particular episode was being directed by Irrfan Khan and Tigmanshu Dhulia. Irrfan did not achieve Bollywood stardom then, but was an established TV star, and I was upset with him. He came to me and asked my name. He explained the role that a woman in the area had. They asked me if I was interested in doing it and I agreed. I was signed for about a thousand rupees per day. We spent two days shooting there.

2. What do you remember of your first day on set?

Publi Sanyal of NSD was playing another local woman. Tannishtha Chatterjee was playing the role of a suspicious woman, who lives in the neighborhood. Pabli and I come to sell Tannishta a small room. This was the scene.

I was told in Delhi that I do not know anything about the camera angle. So I went to Irfan and asked him where the camera was. Irrfan with his straight face asked me to focus on his acting, and told me that it was his job to capture on camera. Therefore, he refused to tell me where the lens was. This made me really happy because it meant that I wouldn’t have any problems about angles.

3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

The scene required me to bow my head as if trying to see who had arrived. I did this with an upward movement and the shot was cut. Irfan came to me and asked what I was doing. I said, “Dekh Rahi Hoon (I’m trying to see).” He said, “Are you staying, are you not?” Who are you looking at me? Look Look mat. (Then why are you showing me what you’re watching? Just naturally look.) “For the next three minutes, we turned the acting down. But Irfan was not happy. So in the fourth take, me and Pabli peeped out of the window, looked at each other and got off. Irfan said that this is what we had to do.

4. How was the rapport with your co-stars when you met them or worked with them again?

I did not get to work with Irfan or Tigmanshu after Andhar. I later met Tannishta.

Q. If you are given a chance to return to your first role, what is it that you want to change or do for the better?

At that time, I did the best I could. As an actor, you keep analyzing yourself and growing. The day you are satisfied with your work, your craft will die.

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6. A film or role that inspired you to become an actor?

My mother’s influence was strong because she was an art and cinema person. Therefore, I grew to recognize Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Supriya Pathak, Deepti Naval and others. I wanted to emulate his performance. I was not big in the 1980s stars. Later, as a commercial actor, I liked Juhi Chawla a lot. I loved his vibrancy, comic timing, energy and innocence.

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