Welcome back to Maxim, Ali! We took you outdoors in the Mumbai monsoons this time...
The shoot was grungy and cool. We had quite the adventure lined up for us! I like edgy shoots.
Do you like going on road trips?
I love road trips. My most memorable one was from Filmistan (Andheri) to Yari Road (also in Andheri), clocking three hours during the Mumbai floods—that’s if you call it a road trip and not a float ride! But I think the one that sticks with me is my trip to Ladakh a couple of years ago. My friend and I walked, took rides, pitched tents... the works. It was crazy. Also, it’s the most memorable one because we had no phones, only one old-school roll camera.
That sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to disconnect from the world. What other adventure activities are you fond of?
Trekking. I was into rock climbing but I doubt I can do it now. It requires a lot of practice and stamina. I will go back to it soon.
We’re willing to try, if you are. On your day off, you...
Netflix and chill—ha! I’m a movie buff... to the point of it being an obsession. I go to movie halls on my own sometimes. It’s the most peaceful time for me. Almost like meditation. Or I cook—cooking is a stress-buster for me.
Your personal style is a big bag of mixes—does that take a lot of effort?
We all make the effort to look the way we look. You need an insight even if you’re dressing casually. My dressing is often drastic. Sometimes I can really loosen up and sometimes I like sharp. But my go-to is denims with boots.
With a background in theatre, one assumes you must enjoy reading. Your favourites?
I wasn’t much of a reader up until college. I only read plays because I liked doing them on-stage. Dialogue made sense. I think anyone who wants to become an actor today should try and study Shakespeare. Not because it’s cool to know Shakespeare but because the guy was a genius! The way those plays are written is almost mathematically musical. Like Mozart and his symphonies. One of my favourites these days is a book called House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. It’s quite twisted and gripping. I would suggest you start with a book called The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak---—it’s a page-turner. Or The Devotion Of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino. I can go on and on...
From performing onstage to being on the silver screen, what have you learned about your self over time?
That I can get horribly lazy sometimes and acting has to have a sense of discipline. For the first time in my life I felt discipline wasn’t just a word coming out of my teacher’s mouth. I learned that no matter who you play, onstage or on screen, you will never fully engulf the part if you don’t love your character. I learned this from two of the greatest actors I know, both women. I fall in love with the people I play. I learned that art, and being part of it, can make one powerful enough to bring about change. Our films and our performances all mirror the times we live in. Maybe not literally, but in manner. It’s important to be an artiste in these times. It’s not like the ’90s, when we could all be just a bunch of apolitical hipsters doing our little thing and making movies and partying. We have world leaders pretty much ripping humanity apart. I learned the difference between art and entertainment. I hope others do too.
We’ve been dying to ask—is Dame Judi Dench a bad-ass in real life too?
She owns a fidget spinner and she’s just rapped in a song! As I like to call her now—she’s Ju to the D, JUDI. She is so cool and beautiful.
If you had to go around the world in eight cities/countries...
Venice, because it wasn’t enough the first time and it’s way too romantic to not go again. Iceland, because I grew up watching the National Geographic channel. Istanbul, because the whole world has gone there, and I haven’t and it eats me up to not be able to say I have. Cuba, not for the cigars but just for the party. Croatia, everywhere there is so beautiful. Sarajevo, because for some odd reason that was one of my first words as a kid. It’s an eerie story but it’s true! I didn’t know what it was until much later. I just knew the word and it felt so familiar, so I have to go there. Sweden, because I don’t really know. Just want to see it. And Lucknow because... my mom and grandparents have been waiting to see me—it’s been three months now, and maybe it’ll be five by the time I will get to go there.
The secret to a woman’s heart is through…
The power of the eardrum. If you can listen, and compassionately listen to what is coming out of that mouth, you have gained points. Everybody wants to be heard. Today, with the social media so strong, it’s hard for people to sit down and just listen. But that really is the key to the heart, I guess. And wit, I suppose.
PHOTOGRAPHS: AMIT SHARMA
STYLING: ISHA BHANSALI
GROOMING: CLAIRE MARRINAN AT TOABH TALENT MANAGEMENT
PRODUCTION: GRAVITY GRACE