Ananya Panday and Dhairya Karwa on Gehraiyaan: Intimacy is not just about the physical
Ananya and Dhairya open up about what it means to have been a part of the Shakun Batra directorial and how working on the film has given them a different perspective of what intimacy mean
Relationships can hit you with the force of a tornado. Sometimes, they come without warning, creep up on you, and transform your life. Gehraiyaan's portrayal of one such tumultuous relationship has been met with polarising reviews from critics and audiences alike. The lead roles Aisha (Deepika Padukone), Zain (Siddhant Chaturvedi), Tia (Ananya Panday), and Karan (Dhairya Karwa) and their performances, however, were appreciated at large.
The film is mainly about the extent to which human beings can go to feed their ambition, greed, and love. The characters essayed by Ananya and Dhairya are on the receiving end, with their partners cheating on them. In the film, neither Tia nor Zain realise the truth about their partners, and they are left to think the best of Zain and Alisha. Speaking of playing a role from an emotional perspective that he has never experienced before, Dhairya says, "It was new for me; it was nothing like I have played before. When we started prepping for it, Dar Gai, the intimacy director, played a big part and took us on a process, trust-building exercises, getting to know each other, getting to know the co-actors, boundaries… It was all a revelation and a learning that I can use in my career ahead."
Ananya agrees and adds that she built Tia with the help of stories that she had heard of from friends and family. In Gehraiyaan, she plays Zain's girlfriend, who is not only cheated on but is also conned into selling a farmhouse by Zain and his partner. Ananya clarifies that she hasn't experienced something as extreme. "However, I have felt similar emotions, even if not necessarily related to this situation." She explains, "For me, it was about contextualising and transferring the emotions that I have felt in my life, over to Tia. I had several conversations with Shakun, a lot of observations—about situations, people, stories I might have heard before, when I was young." Ananya also finds certain similarities between her character Tia and herself. "Highlighting those aspects of my personality involved a lot of breaking down of barriers you put up to protect yourself and your emotions. It demanded that I truly let go in front of the camera."
The film is intimate, not just with its unrestrained portrayal of relationships, but in its overall treatment as well. It tries to capture the intensity of feelings and emotions through shots that sometimes even feel pervasive. The interactions between characters are translated through looks and gestures that we see in relationships, including, say, clandestine eye contact. Gehraiyaan helped Ananya realise that intimacy is as much about understanding oneself as it is about understanding another person. The time with Dar Gai helped her, she says. "In a lot of those exercises, we had to learn to accept our own bodies and our own flaws and learn to love ourselves. That builds a level of comfort from the get-go. When you get comfortable in your own body, with your own movements, that’s when it translates into intimacy that you can share with another person."
Ananya shares more lessons she learned about intimacy. "People always associate the word with physical intimacy but it is a lot more than that. There's emotional intimacy, there's look, touch… there's so much more. I think this film really helped us open up our minds to what intimacy actually is."
Dhairya adds that the entire experience has helped them become empathetic not only towards each other but also towards themselves. He agrees with Ananya and shares that being comfortable with oneself is vital. "It starts with you and then you move onto your co-actors and how you are with your surroundings." He too reiterates: "Intimacy is not physical. It is about revealing your most vulnerable side and being comfortable with it."