Purvaja Sawant (BOMBAY TIMES; May 6, 2017)

Despite having no filmi connections, the pretty girl from Chandigarh made everyone sit up and take notice of her when she made her Bollywood debut in the surprise hit Vicky Donor (2012). In Yami Gautam's five-year career, she has seen not just successes, but also an equal number of misses at the box office; yet, that hasn't deterred her from pursuing her dream -movies. After portraying a vulnerable character in Kaabil earlier this year, the actress will soon be seen in Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar 3, in which she is essaying a dark character for the first time. In a tête-à-tête, Yami shares her experience of working on the crime-drama franchise, how her failures have been instrumental in helping her climb the ladders of success and contrary to all the rumours, why love isn't on the cards...

Are you deliberately trying to shatter the girl-next-door image?
Honestly, as an actor, I prefer not having any image. I am trying to be more versatile, but it's not like I am out there to prove a point. Luckily, I have got a film, where I can fit in my character really easily. When Ramu sir approached me, I realised that it was an opportunity to attempt something different. The audience hasn't seen me in something like this and it's exciting. I am not nervous because I know how it has shaped up. It's scarier when there is ambiguity in your thoughts, but I was very clear about what I was doing in this film.

You initially rejected the idea of playing a negative character...
Actually, I was surprised and curious to know why Ramu wanted to cast me. I never imagined myself picking up a gun and shooting. This is the first time in my career that someone has approached me for a grey character. I was anxious and wondered what it was all about, but Ramu convinced me there was nothing negative - it was all grey. It's not like I have to mouth gory dialogues or that the character is caricaturish. I was jittery and had a hundred questions before going on the set. I remember asking Ramu how I should prepare for the role. I wanted to put in my best, but he told me that he wanted me to be effortless. He didn't want me to think too much because my character is very mysterious and the more he told me, the more I would think about it and carry baggage on the set.

Ramu is a man of many words. He is said to be moody and eccentric. How was your experience working with him?
As a person, he is very interesting. He can engage you in any kind of conversation. But on the set, he is very different and he doesn't talk much. He is absolutely clear about what he wants from a certain scene. He thinks like an editor when he's directing a scene. He knows exactly where a shot needs to begin and where it needs to end. I don't know if I should say this, but when I saw the rushes of the film, I thought, 'God, this girl isn't me; she's too mean.'

You once mentioned in an interview that failure is important in life. How have your setbacks helped you?
I want to rephrase that. It's difficult to define what failure is. Failure could be a movie not working, or something more emotional and personal. I think hardships can help you. I am referring to my box-office failures. And all the hardships I have gone through my career, even before Vicky Donor, have helped me a great deal, especially because I come from another city. I have always been an extremely shy person and I don' have any godfather in the industry. When you start from scratch and make your way up, all that experience counts. When you are on your own, the only thing that will take you ahead is confidence and your experiences. I didn't have too many choices, but I did the best with whatever opportunities I was given. After Vicky Donor, when Total Siyapaa didn't do well, I was very disappointed. I won't lie; there was a lot of pressure from everyone. Today, an actor's job isn't just to act - you have to take care of brands, media, PR etc. I used to wonder, if someone asks me a question about my failure, how will I answer that? I was very upset. And then, even the next film didn't work! That's when I realised that it is fine. I kept asking myself if I was capable enough to keep working in this industry and reach where I wanted to in life. I give my best, but whether a film works or not is not in my hands. The key is to keep moving and keep working hard. The day you embrace and respect your failures, everything falls into place. That's what happened with me and I magically bagged Kaabil.

With the recent debate around nepotism, do you feel the industry takes a long time to warm up to outsiders?
Well, it's not just the industry, even an outsider takes time to adapt to this place. It's a two-way street. I think everyone has different kinds of pressures and struggles. It all depends on destiny. If someone is not meant to make it here, it won't happen, no matter what. Of course, it is very hard for outsiders. But the moment you start thinking, 'Oh, I am an outsider', it becomes an excuse when things don't work out for you. There's a certain high when you reach your goals on your own, with your values intact. I have always believed that your work speaks for you. I'm happy and proud of my roots. I have surprised myself by reaching where I am today. After all, I am the same girl who ran away from the stage in school because she was too scared to recite a poem!

Your career's on the upswing... is there time for love or a relationship?
Not at all. I am absolutely in love with movies. God gave me an opportunity and so, it must be for a reason and the reason is movies, not love.