Actor Sanya Malhotra still finds it hard to let the feeling sink in that she co-starred with Bollywood star Aamir Khan in her debut film, Dangal. All praise for the perfectionist Khan, Sanya says Aamir is a friend, a mentor, a godfather, a guide and well, also very papa type.The last one’s intriguing, right?
After playing the 52-year-old’s on-screen daughter Babita Phogat in the December 2016 film, Sanya and her onscreen sibling, actor Fatima Sana Shaikh — who played Geeta Phogat— joined Dangal’s post-production team, and interned under Aamir.
Was Aamir a strict boss, considering he wants everything just perfect? “Oh no, not at all. He’s the coolest boss one can ever work with. At times when I’d call him asking for a leave, he’d say ‘Haan, don’t come, it‘s okay.’ He’s very cool,” says Sanya. Even on the sets, he was very calm. “I don’t think AK can ever scream. I’ve never seen him getting pissed at anyone. He’s very papa type on the set ... someone who can never scold anyone. He’s so humble, calm and simple,” she adds.
While during the internship, Sanya got to learn a lot from Aamir, tables turned later, as she got the rare opportunity to turn her mentor’s mentor. A trained ballet dancer, Sanya is lucky to have had the rare opportunity to mentor her mentor. She has choreographed a music video for Aamir’s next film, Secret Superstar.
How’s Aamir as a student? “He’s fabulous! Teaching him has also been a learning experience because he never gives up. Main kitna bhi mushkil step deti thi, he used to do it. Even if he looked funny doing a step or if people laughed at him, he’d still do it till he got it right. It’s so inspiring to see him put so much dedication in his work.”
Recalling the days of shooting for Dangal, Sanya shares an incident when Aamir was rehearsing for a video for the song, Dhaakad. “Fatima and I used to go for the dance rehearsals, though we were not dancing, sadly. There, I saw AK rehearing, and realised that he’s so passionate about the whole process of movie-making. Even when Bosco (the choreographer) gave him tough steps, he never used to say things like ‘No, please change it according to me, it’s difficult or I won’t be able to do it’. Fatima and I would bully him during rehearsals, but on the day of the final shoot, he nailed it. We were shocked. He gave a shot, came back behind the monitor and asked us about his performance and we were like ‘how did you do that’. We even told him that aap toh natak karte ho, aapse hota hai dance, you don’t do it in rehearsals and you do it in front of the camera,” says Sanya.