An NRI with a Desi heart, that’s Sapna Babbi for you. She made her debut playing Anil Kapoor‘s daughter on the show ‘24’ named Kiran Rathod where she played a complex character. She then made her big Bollywood debut in ‘Khamoshiyaan’ opposite Ali Fazal and Gurmeet Choudhary. She also ventured into web series with ‘The Trip’ and now she’s back in another one titled ‘Breathe’ which is being showcased on Amazon Prime Video India, opposite Amit Sadh and R. Madhavan.
Cinespeaks chatted with her on the series, her Bollywood journey and more. Let’s take a look at what she has to say:
Sapna Pabbi on working with her ‘Breathe’ co-stars R. Madhavan and Amit Sadh, “I started shooting with Maddy (R. Madhavan) much later, my first few scenes were with Amit (Sadh). There was nothing daunty about it. I knew what I was getting into. They weren’t intimidating. Nobody made me feel like I was a junior to them. It was easy working with them”.
On landing the role of Ria Ganguly, she said, “I asked for it. My team brought the casting for this role to my attention. They convinced me how I was fit to do the role and how I always loved doing cool stuff. They however were hesitant because it was the role of a mom and it would have been too early for my career. But I somewhere down the line felt like I would be great to be a part of such a web series and insisted they set up a meeting with the director. However, I was dressed too casual for the first meeting and the director was shocked to see my look and even questioned if I really wanted to play ‘Ria Ganguly’. Although I felt like he was skeptical of me, it took an audition for him to be convinced and I had landed a role”.
Talking about her upbringing and the stereotype that prevails against foreign actors, Sapna said, “I have a British accent but when it comes to my characters I can adopt to whatever dialect the character speaks. But yes, thanks to my dad who is similar to Amrish Puri from ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, I know how to write and speak Punjabi. An actor’s job is to mould themselves into the character, they aren’t born into it. There are actors who reshape themselves for roles and that’s inspirational. I am from an NRI family with strict Indian values. Sometimes I feel like we are more Indian than my friends in Mumbai. The perception of anyone who comes from abroad and may not get the typical Indian characters to understand is wrong and that needs to change among filmmakers”.
“I’m an Economics graduate from London School of Economics. I have worked with the European Parliament in Brussels. I always wanted to be an actor but my father didn’t allow it until I got a degree. Although I modeled during my university days just for the extra cash but nothing was taken seriously. While modeling, I was approached to audition for an Indian television show, I was too busy for it but was requested to help them getting a certain number of auditions. I was just trying to help my friends when after a month I got a call saying I had got the part. I was hesitant to be moving to India but I still asked for my dad’s advice and that’s when he let me take a step into acting. It was a show for Colors but somehow it didn’t work but and I had a month in hand in Mumbai. I was advised to give auditions and that’s how ‘24’ happened”, she added on her Bollywood journey.
Giving a brief on her role, she said, “I play Amit Sadh’s wife in the series with a child battling with issues. I’m very bad at dealing with children unless they are above 10 whom you can communicate with but I have been so fortunate that the kids I have gotten to work with were very well behaved”.
“Yes I play an important role in Karan Johar’s ‘Drive’ (starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez). I got to do some car action which was quite fun”, confirming her presence in Dharma Productions’ ‘Drive’.
On the difference between working on a TV show, film and now a web series, she said, “For me, there’s not much difference, it’s just the shooting extends according to the platform. ‘24’ has taken an year to complete. Longer the process, more comfortable the actor gets with the part”.
“I want to do comedy. I feel like being an NRI, the producers are doubtful of your abilities”, she added.
Talking about her current favorite web series she said, “I am in awe of ‘The Crown’. Although I’m from England, I’ve been exposed to the royal family as much as anyone living outside is. So it’s good to get an insight. Even my 80 year old grandmother who barely knows English is glued to the web series”.
“Change comes with effort. Until we start getting things out there, people will start becoming less sensitive about little things and it becomes easier to communicate. We may not be at the level of Hollywood but we are getting there. There has to be an understanding on what is being offered, analysis and solution rather than havoc”, Sapna on the ‘Padmaavat’ controversy.