'Cinema is the closest thing to magic'

...says Sasha Agha, the heroine of a short film that is to be premiered at Cannes Film Festival in a week
'Cinema is the closest thing to magic'

Five years after making her debut as a heroine in Yash Raj's Aurangzeb (2012), Sasha Agha has reverted to her real name, Zara Khan, and will be seen in a short film, Khoj. Her new project highlights the plight of an abandoned NRI bride and will be premiered at Cannes in May 2018. 

How did you land in Khoj?

My mom, (singer-actress) Salma Agha, and Khoj director Kajri Babbar’s uncle, Raj Babbar, have worked together in the 1982 superhit Nikaah. I really liked their pairing in Salma (1985) too. Our families are very close, and so when Kajri made her first short film, Parda, I asked her to send me a copy. After seeing the film, I messaged her and stated that I would love to work with her. Kajri was working on a short film, Khoj, but said she wouldn’t be able to cast me since it was a British production and required British actors. I immediately responded with, “Great, I hold a British passport!” We did a reading on Skype and she felt I was perfect for the role.

How did you work out the look of a deglamorised teenaged Punjabi bride?

I play a 19-year-old girl from a small village in Punjab who can’t speak English properly. Everything about her was alien to me but I related to the indomitable spirit of the character which I wish for women of all ages. My makeup artist Charlotte Annice Spruch helped me get into the skin of my character, Gurpreet, with her authentic touches.

What was your mom’s reaction to your look in the film?

My mom hated my 'monkey ears' look but I think I was okay. I can look pretty or beautiful at any given time but to look real is my kind of beautiful.

In the film, the London-based NRI husband turns out to be a selfish boor. Generally, NRI husbands are considered to be a catch in our society. 

If you want to find a good proposal for your daughter, you should look out for a good human being who is going to treat her well. Whether he is an NRI or the boy-next-door is secondary.

What approach would you advise when dealing with a marriage proposal from abroad?

We let girls go out in the night only after ascertaining that the boy she is going out with is decent. So how can we get her married and send her across the border without a proper background check? Also, a marriage should be registered because it ensures you legal rights.

Is it true you chose Aurangzeb over Heropanti as your debut film?

Yes, the director Sabbir (Khan) sir had called up mom when he was starting Heropanti. But I had auditioned for YRF and Adi (Chopra) sir was convinced about me. So I decided to do Aurangzeb in the spirit of being loyal to Adi’s belief. I have no regrets. I trust in god.

Do you intend to pursue a career as a singer too, like your mother Salma Agha?

I have immense love for music and whenever I am ready to sing professionally, it will be straight from the heart. But currently performing in front of the camera makes me feel like a magician. Cinema is the closest thing to magic.

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