Location Diaries: Aaditi Pohankar — To reach for the stars

This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, actor Aaditi Pohankar talks about her Tamil debut Star
Location Diaries:  Aaditi Pohankar — To reach for the stars

When Aaditi Pohankar arrived in Chennai to shoot for director Elan's upcoming film, Star, she felt a sense of excitement and was eager to onboard the project. 

The actor who has previously worked in web series like Aashram and She, explains, "I stayed in Chennai for an entire month, before the shooting began. I wanted to get to know the world of my character, Surabhi. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere and observe the people and their mannerisms, which would help me get into the skin of my character better. So, I visited malls and interacted with people, especially young girls. While speaking with them, I picked up many gestures, expressions and their body language which I used for my role.” She also adds, “I started enjoying the process. Soon, I started dressing differently, wore a bindi daily and changed my hairstyle. Director Elan accompanied me to the beach where I watched people and picked up more tips. All of this helped me immensely to get the finer nuances of my character right," says Aaditi. 

But Aaditi admits that she was anxious about one particular monologue that consisted of 28 lines which she had to shoot in a single take. "It was a huge challenge for me, as I had to master the lengthy Tamil dialogue and convey many different emotions at the same time. It took me 12 days of preparation to get it right. Director Elan was very helpful. He sat with me to explain the lines and sent me voice notes as well," she says.

Despite being new to the city and the language, Aaditi felt warmly welcomed. She elaborates, "I found everyone to be extremely sweet, easy-going and humble. The atmosphere was relaxed, but there was no compromise on the work. Director Elan was very professional, but also very approachable. Since the language was new to me, I wanted to give re-takes a few times. But he would assure me not to worry and no retake was necessary."

It was on her first day of the shoot that Aaditi met her co-star Kavin. The duo had to shoot a romantic scene inside an auditorium. "I went up to speak to Kavin to break the ice. Since it was my first Tamil film, I requested him to bear with me all through the shoot just in case I didn't get something right. He was very jovial and put me at ease. He also revealed that he had watched my shows on OTT during the lockdown. The bonhomie we shared from the first day lasted all through the shoot," she says.

Noting that this camaraderie they shared helped during the shoot, she reveals, "Since we became friends, we both would have a discussion and then rehearse our scenes, before our takes. After shooting for several intense scenes in the film, we would both break into laughter, to lighten the mood."

For one montage song sequence, Aaditi and Kavin had to sit atop some furniture loaded onto the back of a moving lorry. Recalling the interesting scene, she says, "The camera team was following us from afar. The heat was unbearable and the journey was uncomfortable. Due to the camera movement on the uneven road, we had to give many retakes. After a point, it became confusing when we couldn't hear the director's instructions. Crowds too had started recognising us seated in the open lorry. In the end, we were told to just improvise and complete the shot."

With her first experience being unforgettable, Aaditi expresses her enthusiasm to continue working in the Tamil industry. "To understand the language and enjoy my work even more, I have started taking Tamil lessons from a tutor. Shooting for Star has been a very memorable experience and I want to take up more projects here," she remarks before signing off.

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