They bicker and argue like every brother and sister and are quick to make up as well. “People actually think we are siblings,” laughs Hetal Gadda. The Class 8 student plays the role of Pari in Nagesh Kukunoor’s film Dhanak which released this week. The film traces the magical journey of Pari and Chotu through the barren deserts of Rajasthan. Pari has promised Chotu to get his eyesight back before he turns nine and their only ray of hope is Shah Rukh Khan.
Krrish Chhabria and Hetal, the backbone of the film were in Pune for a screening of the film at ‘Lost the Plot’, a rooftop cinema in Aundh at Seasons Hotel, as we caught up with them amidst their nervousness and extreme delight. “I love Pune, I have shot a film in the past here as well,” smiles Hetal. Krrish who has been acting since he was five is quite excited for his first full-fledged role as the lead, “My character Chotu is visually impaired, but to get the part right I visited a blind school and spent time with the kids there to understand their behaviour and mannerisms.” The dedication and hard work put in by these kids, who have received accolades from directors within the industry is evident from the trailer itself. “We were selected from 500 boys and 500 girls, after which we went through a two-month workshop. Nagesh sir had warned us about the harsh heat in Rajasthan but the shooting turned out to be so much fun we did not feel any pressure,” boasts Hetal. On being asked how was the experience working with Nagesh Kukunoor, both of them reply in unison, “Nagesh sir was a very nice, he was never strict and would sit down and make us understand the scenes.” To bring out the best in them, they would never be allowed to watch the monitor after their scene as per Kukunoor’s instructions, “Sir would treat us as adults, he would say that we are professional actors and whether you are an adult or child it doesn’t matter.”
The playful squabbling reinstates as they argue about who is better, Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan. Chotu and Pari pledge their alliance to Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan respectively in the film as well as hold the same views in real life. “One of the best compliments we have received is from Shah Rukh Khan who tweeted about us,” says an over-the-moon Hetal. Quick to retort is Krrish who adds, “We met Salman sir also at a film festival and he wished us luck,” as he plays with his Salman imitated bracelet.
Hetal and Krrish who shot in the scorching heat of Rajasthan for over a month and have been busy with promotions have vouched that this is a once in a lifetime experience and they’ve learnt a lot. “When I started shooting, since I have done television before my acting was so dramatic but Nagesh sir would teach me natural acting,” says Hetal. Krrish nods in agreement and adds “Sir would make sure we study regularly,” as they managed their time between takes.
Hetal wants to become a big actress, “just like Kareena Kapoor and Deepika Padukone”. But some dreams she’s already on her way to fulfilling, “I had promised myself that I would make my grandparents sit on a plane for the first time, that came true as I took my nani to Rajashthan.” She proudly continues, “My mother allows me to do whatever I want but never give up on education in return I want to give my mother all the happiness in the world.” Don’t let the playful antics fool you for the mature and smart kids Chotu and Pari are, Krrish says, “My father has always taught me to stay grounded and not throw tantrums no matter how big I become in life.” Well said.
Photo credits : Rakesh Oswal.
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