EXCLUSIVE: Bad Cop actor Aishwarya Sushmita talks about working with Anurag Kashyap and being launched by Neeraj Pandey; CONFIRMS that she was named after Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sushmita Sen: “Sushmita is even aware that my name exists because of her name!”

The quirky action thriller Bad Cop dropped on Disney+ Hotstar last week and one of its actors who left a mark was Aishwarya Sushmita as Kiki. And that hasn’t come as a surprise as she had done a fine job in her debut show, Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story and also Khakee: The Bihar Chapter. Incidentally, both were backed by Neeraj Pandey. In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Aishwarya Sushmita spoke about Bad Cop, her previous works and also the story behind her unique name.

What feedback have you got for the first two episodes of Bad Cop that dropped last Friday?
People are really looking forward to the rest of the episodes. So, that’s a plus. Some of them were a bit upset that only two episodes were released at first. Even I was very surprised. Also, I haven’t got a chance to see it because we just finished the shoot. Simultaneously, the editing was also happening. And then we were also busy with promotions. The good thing is that it’s keeping the audience on the edge, especially the cliffhanger at the end of every episode.

How did you bag the show?
I strongly believe that work gets you work (smiles). I come from a non-filmy background and hence, you have to make sure that I deliver such performances so that people remember you. This is what has happened to me. The production team for Bad Cop recommended my name as they had seen my work before. Casting director Kunal M Shah told me about this part opposite Gulshan Devaiah. It was a no-brainer, looking at the ensemble cast in the show. I read the script and realized that Kiki has an interesting part. Hence, I decided to go ahead with it.

How was it working with Anurag Kashyap?
He comes with a wealth of knowledge and also with experience in direction and acting. There’s not a single time when you meet him and not learn something. Hence, working with him was a privilege. I also wanted to work under his direction because his process is such that it makes an actor deliver an authentic performance. He has an organic way of creating his art. In the process, you learn so much that aapki acting ki aadhi training wahin ho jaati hai. Nevertheless, working with him as a co-actor was also good fun. I had very limited time with him as we didn’t have many scenes. But he was brutally honest about himself and everything. Hence, when he says something, you make a note.

And what about Gulshan Devaiah?
He, too, has a lot of experience. Shooting can get quite hectic at times. How you deal with such a situation also matters. There were times when Gulshan and I had different views. Still, he was so humble. When you have a name and fame, toh arrogance aa jaati hai. Gulshan, however, was very grounded. His process is different. He’s always chit-chatting and keeping the moment light to let go of his nervousness. It was fun to watch and learn that from him. Also, he’ll pick a word from the sentence you uttered and sing a song that starts with that word!

You did action in your debut show, Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story. Did that come in handy for Bad Cop?
You are right; it did. We were shooting in Ukraine for Special Ops 1.5 and we had body doubles. There was a scene where the car turned 360 degrees. It could have led to injury and yet, Neeraj sir allowed me to do it. The next day, I could feel a muscle pull in my neck! But I was glad I managed to do it and even enjoyed it. This experience and the one on Runway 34 (2022) gave me the confidence to do the action in Bad Cop. Maybe, if Bad Cop was my first action-packed role, I would have given thought as to whether or not I should do it. Gulshan, meanwhile, was scared of stunts! But he was right as you never know; action mein kahin kuch ho jaaye upar neeche. He was being practical.

You were launched by Neeraj Pandey. In the past, he gave great roles to several new actresses like Kiara Advani, Rakul Preet Singh, etc, and today they are doing quite well. Hence, it must have been a high to be guided by him…
Yes, that’s one of the reasons you remember Neeraj Pandey. He gave opportunities to certain people who are today successful and it shows that when you work with people like him, you’ll never go unnoticed. In the script of Special Ops 1.5, my role was not as big. I was supposed to shoot for just 5-6 days, but I ended up shooting for 15 days. When a director also sees potential in you, you never know when the script changes and what happens. Also, I never knew him before. I had never met him. I only tested a two-liner for him, and I landed the role and also on the poster!

Kiara also had a small part in M S Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) but it was a significant one. The same goes for Disha Patani as well as Taapsee Pannu in Baby(2015). But he made sure that the women in his films or shows have a very substantial role. They are not added just for some glamour. He put faith in me and so did I in him. And it paid off. I am also thankful to him for giving me the role of Mita in Khakee.

Everyone has their own journey. You mentioned Kiara and I don’t know if I would ever make it there. But you should do instinctively what you feel is right.

How was it working with Ajay Devgn the actor and director in Runway 34(2022)?
He not only acted and directed but also produced it. I shot for it for nearly 30 days though I had a cameo kind of a role in the film! However, being on sets with legends like Ajay Devgn, Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani etc was one of the big reasons why I took it up. Also, it was the first film I signed though Special Ops 1.5 ended up releasing first. I wanted to understand the process of filmmaking as I didn’t have any exposure. That was important for me. I remember, during lunch time, while everyone was having their meal, I used to make notes on how Amit ji performed and prepared for the scene.

Ajay sir was managing a lot of things at the same time. He had a very calm energy around him. At times, however, he used to scream and shout when things didn’t go his way. Aur woh accha khaasa chillate the, with slangs and all though it was also said as a fun banter. Apart from that, he was very calm. He was also quite an observer. He kept an eye on everything. Even if it was a junior artist, he’d know what they were up to. I am really looking forward to working with him again.

Which scene of yours got deleted in Runway 34?
We shot a lot. And when the plane crashes, all three air hostesses fly in the air from their seats. This portion was cut. I was on the harness, and I was performing my own stunt. I was a little disappointed after it was axed. Anyway, I was not expecting much out of it, and I did it for experience.

You were born in 1994. That was the year when Aishwarya Rai Bachchan won the Miss World while Sushmita Sen won the Miss Universe pageant. Were you, by any chance, named after them?
(Smiles) Yes. They are the reason for my name. Sushmita is even aware that my name exists because of her name! My parents were quite inspired by their victories. During those days, beauty pageants were a big thing, especially for women who were representing India on a global platform. Also, those were the days when do naam rakhne ka chalan chal raha tha. Hence, they thought that Aishwarya and Sushmita are a great combination. And yes, I was born in the same year. Hence, the parents saw it as a sign and today, I landed in the same industry (laughs)!

Have you ever met Aishwarya Rai Bachchan?
When I was a model, she did come for a show by Hindustan Times. But I couldn’t catch up with her as there was too much rush. I have met Sushmita 2-3 times. She’s very warm.

Your body of work is great. Do you think the industry would have celebrated you more if you were a star kid?
There’s no denial about it. When you come with a certain background, you have an advantage. And I don’t feel there’s anything wrong about it because you have grown up in that environment. People would naturally know who you are. That somewhere adds when you are starting your career. I believe this would happen in any career. When you are an outsider, the struggle is more. You can prove yourself only by your work or your talent.

It’s not like every star kid has made it big. There are so many of them who came with that privilege but if they didn’t deliver, people didn’t want to work with them. So, as an outsider, to make a name for yourself, aapko mehnat toh karni padti hai. That’s fine. Hard work and perseverance will take you ahead.

Your birthday is coming up on July 12. What have you planned?
Oh, wow! You have done full research. I am waiting for my gift now (laughs). I spoke to many people off late, but nobody remembered or knew my birthday was coming up.

To answer your question, I love to travel, and I ensure I go somewhere at least twice a year. This year on my birthday, I am planning to go to Africa, to Masai Mara in Kenya and Tanzania. It’s a culturally rich place and that interests me. Moreover, I love to stay connected with nature.

About the Author

You may also like these