Sakshi Agarwal is quite on cloud nine and has reasons to be. The pretty actor has recently completed shooting for Rajinikanth’s Kaala and is overwhelmed about working with the Thalaivar himself. “On an international level, everybody knows that Rajini sir is a legend; but experiencing it and visually watching him is a delight in itself. When I was called for the audition, I was in the mindset that I would be happy even if I get a single shot with Rajini sir,” says the visibly excited actor. “I don’t know what is in store next for Rajini sir. We don’t know what movies he might be doing. I don’t know if it will possible for me to be his heroine. I am elated to be a part of a Ranjith-Rajini sir film,” gushes Sakshi.
While she has acted in a couple of Tamil movies, Kaala is Sakshi’s big break. And she fondly remembers being star struck when she first met Rajinikanth. “I was out of words for the first few seconds. I touched his feet and took his blessings. There is no concept of big or small for Rajini sir. He treats everyone equally,” says Sakshi. “One day, he looked at me as I entered the set and said you are awesome and gave me a thumbs up for a scene I shot the previous day. Every small gesture he makes is motivating and he does this for everybody. However big or small my role might be, these are my biggest takeaways,” says a gung-ho Sakshi.
While Tamil might not be Sakshi’s native language, the young actor is comfortable with it. In fact, she also has a strong Chennai connect having studied at Good Shepherd school. “I have put in the extra effort as I feel that you need to know the language if you’re part of the industry. It makes performing, communicating, and interacting a lot easier. Also, they wanted a girl who could speak good Tamil. So it helped,” she says. Does that mean we can hear her voice on screen as well? “I don’t know. We haven’t discussed it yet. I just wrapped up and they are still shooting in Mumbai. But I would love to dub for myself,” she said.
Interestingly, Sakshi wanted to be an IAS officer during her school days but ended up being an engineer. “I got carried away in the dot-com boom and chose IT engineering. I have always been a good student, a topper. Then MBA happened as well,” she recalls. While fashion had always been an interest, the primary focus was on academics. “Now that I had a steady career and a fancy paycheck, I was in a place where I can experiment. I took up part-time modelling. I didn’t even have a serious portfolio for the first two years, I just took up assignments as they came. One thing led to another and I was caught up in the web. Then I took the plunge,” reminisces Sakshi.
While a lot of senior actors aspire to work with Rajini, Sakshi has got that opportunity early in her career. However she maintains, “My dream would be to work with all performers in the industry. I want to play roles with substance. But personally, I admire Ajith sir a lot. His story is an inspiration for artistes like me who don’t have a background in Cinema. While I haven’t met him in person, he seems like a very genuine person.”
Nepotism might be a point of heated debate in Bollywood, there is not much need for it down south, believes Sakshi. “I can very proudly say that south cinema has proper entry points and is very warm and welcoming to good talent. For me to even reach the stage I am, I couldn’t have done if nepotism had been in play. If you are passionate and committed to your work, you will get your place in the industry,” she states.
A couple of years ago, Sakshi had made headlines for sharing a casting couch experience. But the actor clarifies that it was a case of cheating. “That guy who was involved was not even a part of the industry. He was cheating women of money and I just wanted others to be careful. The whole thing panned out differently as a case of the casting couch,” she says. “There are good people and bad people in every industry. It is about taking the best and going ahead. In these past four years, I have not had any bad experiences,” she adds.