Sanjana Sanghi on why box office 'failure' does not deter her: 'You have to take it in your stride' | Exclusive

Sanjana Sanghi opens up on her upcoming film Dhak Dhak and the unusual start to her career as a leading lady during the pandemic.


Abhimanyu Mathur

Updated: Jun 28, 2023, 12:45 PM IST

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Sanjana Sanghi is only two films old as a leading actress. Of course, the 26-year-old had also done four films as a child artiste prior to her ‘debut’ but despite the passage of time, hers is a relatively young career. In that, she is yet to taste box office success, something she herself admits. In an exclusive chat with DNA, the actress talks about her life, career, and recent philanthropic activities that have roots in her childhood.

We meet Sanjana on her trip back home to Delhi. The reason, however, is her association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through which she is helping skill development and education of underpriveleged kids. Talking about why she chose to be associated with the cause, the actress says, “It’s my honour that I was chosen to be entrusted with this responsibility because I have actually been very academic my whole life. I come from a very regular middle-class family from Delhi. It was made very clear to my brother and me that ‘you have to make something of yourself’ because there was nothing to lean back on. In that, I found my solace in arts that whenever the world seemed overwhelming, I would go on stage or read my books. That’s when I learnt that when a child is nurtured in the right way, things that seemed distant, dreams that seemed impossible, they somehow start coming closer.”

In her next film Dhak Dhak, Sanjana is starring alongside three actresses who are very different from her in terms of age and experience – Ratna Pathak Shah, Dia Mirza, and Fatima Sana Shaikh. Talking about how they fund common ground to bond, Sanjana says, “That’s the magic of human experience. The four of us have had such different life experiences. Being women is the first commonality. That experience of being able to share notes with Rata ma’am and her telling us stories about how different it was in her days was something. Even Dia would talk about her early days and how female actors did not have a voice back then. Just in between takes, the chai I would have with Ratna ma’am by the side of the river in Ladakh, those moments feel surreal.”

The film follows four women on their bike trip from Delhi to Ladakh and riding those Royal Enfield bikes on treacherous mountaineous terrain was one challenge Sanjana and her co-stars had to face. When asked if it was scary, the actress replies, “Conquering fears is an everyday thing when you become an actor, be it the fear of going to an audition room or the fear of putting yourself out there. Then these fears turn into thrills. So when Taapsee Pannu tells you that she will produce a film where I have to ride an Enfield to Ladakh, I just say ‘sure’. We had the best time.”

Sanjana sees this time in her career as a proliferation after a rather subdued time as she began life as a leading actress. She explains, “The best way is to see this time as an opening up of opportunity. I could very well have said ‘Dil Bechara was supposed to be a theatrical’. The pandemic was never supposed to happen. Things have not happened the way they were supposed to. Spending the first 2-3 years of your career as a lead actor with the world closed is a very uncomfortable feeling. You see the millions racking up on Instagram but you don’t get to see or feel it.”

Dil Bechara, her debut as a heroine, released on Disney+ Hotstar. Her first theatrical – Rashtra Kavach Om – was also not a box office success. Talking about the experiences, Sanjana says, “You have to take it in your stride. For me, what was important was that an Ahmed Khan and Zee felt that I can be an action girl opposite Aditya Roy Kapur that early in my career. That was a pat on my back.”

She argues that if it wasn’t for the pandemic, Rashtra Kavach Om may have fared better at the box office, something many analysts have said too. Talking about the film not performing at the box office, Sanjana says, “I don’t take ‘failure’ very well but oddly enough, it did not deter me. Rashtra Kavach Om did so much for me as a person. To be shooting a film during the pandemic was a ‘thank God’ moment. Om finished and I had signed Dhak Dhak and was looking at Kadak Singh. Mentally I was on to different things very quickly.”

The other things she mentions are Dhak Dhak and Kadak Singh, her other upcoming film where she stars with Pankaj Tripathi. Both films will release this year.

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