Saunskruti Kher on coming from a legendary acting background, her close-knit relationship with her sis Saiyami and making her way through this industry.
How has your journey as a model/actor been so far?
It’s been a huge learning curve. I started with doing backstage for Nadira Babbar’s Ekjute, a Hindi theatre group. It would involve sweeping the rehearsal hall, serving chai to the actors, setting up props, etc.
It gave me a strange kind of grounding which is so essential when you’re in this field. Every show is so different from the last one. You could have had a fantastic show the previous day, and failed miserably in the next one. It’s exciting and you constantly need to be on your toes!
What do you enjoy more-acting or modelling?
Acting definitely. I haven’t modelled much, but I’ve loved doing theatre. The process is so enjoyable. I remember we did this play in Ekjute based on Natyashastra. We’d rehearsed for six months, and when it finally premiered, we felt like we’d won some kind of a war. Also, while filming Swami Public Ltd, I did my own stunts. I had jumped and rolled off a cliff. I was completely battered and bruised, but it was so much fun. Had I not been an actor, I don’t think I would have ever done it.
How do you handle the pressure of being from such a successful family and with a background so rooted in the arts field?
I know both Saiyami and I have big shoes to fill. But as cheesy as it sounds, because we’re enjoying ourselves so much, we don’t look at it as pressure. Sure people have expectations, but it’s so great having so many experienced people at home to give us advice on how to do things. Our mom [Uttara Mhatre Kher] was an ex-miss India. Both she and dad [Adwait Kher] have been a part of over a hundred ad campaigns. My grandma, Usha Kiran was a renowned Hindi and Marathi film actress. So because our parents have seen the glamour world at such close quarters, we’ve always been taught to keep our head on our shoulders. It’s definitely more a blessing than any form of pressure to have a family from this field.
Tell us something about your growing up years?
My parents wanted Saiyami and me as far away from the filmi duniya as possible. So they relocated to Nashik before I was born. We hadn’t watched a film in a theatre till we were in our teens I think! Though it sounds surprising, we never really missed films. We’d go swimming in different lakes everyday, climb a new mountain every week. We’ve seen wolves, foxes, peacocks and so many other animals in the wild. It was like a surreal dream growing up in a small town.
My parents had three restaurants in Nashik. After school, very often we’d be working in them. People would be so amused looking at a 9/10-year-old coming to take their order. Saiyami ran the kitchen, while I managed the service. We both would love to start a restaurant of our own sometime.
How did Swami Public Ltd. happen and what about the script made you do it?
Ashwini Ternikar, the line producer had seen some of my work. Random as it sounds, she messaged me via Facebook and I ended up doing the film. I loved the concept of the film. Although am a deeply religious person, this commercialisation of faith is something that always bothered me. So before I even heard the script, I was convinced I wanted to be a part of it. After I said yes, I realised that I was basically going to be acting with stalwarts of the Marathi industry. That just convinced me to be a part of it even more.
Greater Elephant also has philosophical leanings; what were your thoughts about the film’s subject when you were approached for the role? Also tell us a little about your role and the fact that the movie has been premiered in New York and San Francisco?
Greater Elephant was undoubtedly one of the most fun projects I’ve been a part of. It sounds odd because as you said the film is supposed to be philosophical, existential and all that… Srinivas, the director was my senior in college and I’d seen this short film he’d made called Vaapsi. Even his first feature film, The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project was one of the better Indies I’ve seen. So when he spoke to me about Greater Elephant, I knew I wanted to be a part of the film. It’s an ensemble and I play the role of “Parvati”. Every character in the film starts off having lost something, and unconsciously finds their purpose while looking for what is lost. We’d all gone to New York for the premier, where it won the Jury Award for the best film at the South Asian International Film Festival.
What is your equation with your sister – do you guys share tips and suggestions about each other’s work?
All the time. We’re both brutally honest with each other. That’s the best part of being sisters. And because we’re both roughly around the same age, you end up being more a friend than a sibling. It’s a weekly Friday ritual to catch a film at gaiety-galaxy in Bandra. Technically, we both have separate wardrobes, but we know that when either of us buys something, it’s implied that it belongs to the other person as well. So, yeah, we definitely end up sharing more than just tips and suggestions.
Whose critical judgement do you most trust? Why and what has been his/her/their review of your work so far?
Saiyami, my parents, my uncle and aunt [Baba and Tanvi Azmi] . I don’t think I’ve ever taken a work decision without consulting at least one, if not all of these people. They’ll never praise me to the skies nor criticize what I do. They will always give me honest, realistic opinions regardless of what the world says. Really really value it!
Your upcoming projects.
I’ve recently done a role in this film called 3 Storeys. It’s an ensemble cast produced by Excel Entertainment. I absolutely LOVED the script. Hopefully it should be out sometime next year.
Some ad videos and trailers of Saunskruti Kher
Swami Public Ltd:
Arranged Marriage (actor: Areesz Ganddi):
Greater Elephant – Trailer:
Star Utsav – Be! Idea Ho To Aisa:
#AurDikhao – Amazon.in TVC:
Follow Saunskruti Kher on Twitter!