There are some people who radiate positivity, energy and happiness – what we call ‘good vibes’. Yami Gautam is one of those people. And she has reason to be. Not many actors from television make the cut to Bollywood. Her debut film Vicky Donor, directed by Shoojit Sircar was a sleeper hit. Made on a shoe-string budget the film not only vowed both the audiences and critics but also earned her many female debut awards.
But how did a girl born in Himachal Pradesh and raised in Chandigarh land up in Bollywood? A civil servant aspirant Yami was pursuing a law degree when her uncle sent her pictures to a production house. An audition for a television serial landed her in Mumbai and Yami never returned.
Mumbai, Yami says drily, was a bit of a culture shock. “Being independent is ok. But being independent and physically away from family is tough. Back in Chandigarh everyone knew everyone. When I first landed in Mumbai the city seemed so scary. I was also disappointed as I thought everyone in Mumbai stayed next to the sea. That’s what I had seen in the movies!” she laughs.
The journey from television to the movies was a long and arduous one. But Yami held on. “There was never a plan B in my scheme of things. I had to make it. Of course there were moments I when I felt I couldn’t go on. Numerous auditions, rejections, unforeseen delays, etc take a toll on you. What you see in films like Fashion is actually true. I have had several people tell me that I am ‘different’ and not typical Bollywood,” she remembers.
Yami’s first film was about a sperm donor and understandably she was apprehensive about signing on the dotted. “I handed the script to my mom, but she asked me to tell her what the film was about. When I told her, she was chilled out. But I felt very awkward about telling the film’s story to my dad, so I handed over the script to him and told him to read it at his office. Much to my relief, he also liked the script.” It helped that her co-star Ayushmann Khurana was a family friend from Chandigarh.
Dealing with the constant scrutiny and double standards of the industry was even tougher for the emotionally sensitive Yami. “Time and experience toughens you up. Initially I used to be very upset with what’s written about me or when someone spoke bad about me behind my back. But I guess that’s how they welcome you to the big bad world of Bollywood.” The Badlapur actress meditates regularly to distress and calm her nerves.
Yami is acutely aware of the fact that it’s doubly hard for girls from non-filmi backgrounds as the probability of a second chance is low. And that’s probably the reason the actress is cautious with her choice of films. After all her second film Total Siyappa a romantic comedy directed by Eshvar Niwas and produced by Neeraj Pandey of A Wednesday fame proved to be a damp squib at the box office. “It was all too sudden – the applause after Vicky Donor and the pressure of singing the right film. I had to do it all on my own. It’s during times like these that you miss someone hand holding you through these difficult decisions. But that phase taught me lot,” stresses the actor who has been the face of a leading fairness cream for a really long time. Friendly and unpretentious, she has no delusions about the ephemeral nature of fame. Values fluctuate with every Friday and then it all disappears one day, believes the petite actress.
While Bollywood circles are abuzz with rumours of the actor dating her Sanam Re co-star Pulkit Samrat (with whom the actor shares a passionate kiss in the film) Yami has however refuted the rumours. But she is not averse to love when it finds her. Men with good looks and skills in the kitchen have a greater chance. “He needs to be a foodie too. If he can cook that will be the icing on the cake. Or else we could even cook together. All said and done he needs to pass the chai test. I make a really good chai and my man should be able to make a better one,” laughs Yami. Having grown up on Casablanca, DDLJ, Maine Pyar Kiya and Titantic Yami is a dyed in the wool romantic. “He doesn’t have to do something extraordinary. Just cooking together or going on a long drive are exciting enough for me.”
Some more Yami…
Shy, sensitive, soft hearted and a die-hard romantic
Daughter of the sun. As a child I would be petrified if my name was to be announced on stage. It was always mispronounced as Yummy or Yamini – anything but Yami.
I fantasise about
Food. I just love food. Just check my Instagram feeds for proof.
I wish I could
Eat all that I want to and never put on weight
I am proudest
Of the fact that I am self made
I am a fan of
Gardening with my father in Chandigarh. It used to be a Sunday ritual for us.
Most difficult scene ever
For Sanam Re we shot in freezing temperatures in Pangong Lake and Calgary and then we shot in sweaters in the sweltering Mumbai heat of 46 degrees!
Stay in tune with the trends but respect your body type. Trying too hard is so uncool.
Biggest faux pas
I got clicked wearing an ugly pair of chunky black heels with a beautiful red gown. I thought no one would notice but it was all over the papers.
I love the way Tyra Banks dresses up – she looks so elegant and glamorous in whatever she wears.
London and New York.
I am not a gym person, but I stay fit by playing sports. I try and stick to a balanced diet and drink lots of water to stay healthy.
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR