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Tina Desai is a well-known name both here and there. The model-turned-actor has featured in films like Table No 21 and Yeh Faasley, but it’s her career in the West — she’s starred opposite Dev Patel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, as well as the globe-trotting series Sense8, that has made her more popular. Come September 9, Tina will be seen alongside Konkona Sensharma and Mohit Raina in Nikkhil Advani’s Mumbai Diaries 26/11, that looks at the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 from the perspective of frontline workers and first responders. A t2 chat with Tina.
Everything, actually. I think Nikkhil (Advani) is very good at doing things that are hard-hitting and gritty. I was very happy to collaborate on this because when I watched D-Day (directed by Nikkhil), my tummy was actually churning, and that doesn’t happen to me often. So when this project came along, I was really thrilled. The script is really tight and there was nothing that hit me as somewhat weak or inaccurate. On top of that, my character (Ananya Ghosh) is a calm and strong heroic girl. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and yet she’s incredibly competent and smart.
As a person, I like to face things head-on and this girl does that too. I don’t think anyone can be so strong in a terrorist attack, and yet she holds it so well together. She looks after and protects people during the attack. I am probably a percentage of that, but I loved that I got to play someone who is that calm. I was very worried about the parts where I had to interact with the terrorists, as well as some other high-drama scenes.
I was wondering how I could hold on to this strength for hours because the process of filming, depending on individual directors of course, is lengthy. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that intensity for so long, and it would kind of get mechanical. But then, Nikkhil’s style of shooting is so beautiful... he creates an environment where you can absorb off it and add more. He shoots so quickly that you have to only do a take a couple of times. And so it remains fresh and organic.