The Kerala Story is well on its way to becoming a huge success. How are you feeling?
In spite of not belonging to a film family the love I’ve received from one and all is unprecedented. The whole nation is rooting for me. I’m humbled and numb. The dreams I had for myself have been so tiny. These are all the dreams that my loved ones have for me that are coming true.
Director Sudipto Sen, producer Vipul Shah and you had to combat aggressive opposition to the film’s release. How did you cope with the crisis?
The awareness that the film has created will save lives of so many girls. The support we have received is huge. I feel grateful.
The film addresses itself to a very sensitive and disturbing issue of Islamic conversion. Did you have any reservations on accepting such a controversial subject?
From the start, the first day I was narrated this story, to me reading it and the process of shooting the film were always about a naive girl who gets embroiled into the ISIS nexus. Terrorism is dangerous. But someone had to tell this story.
How deeply were you scarred by playing the character?
Playing Shalini Unnikrishnan has physically and emotionally scarred me. These are scars to the depths of my soul. Scars that won’t be healed in a lifetime.
What is your advice to young impressionable girls who get trapped into the conversion crisis?
In any situation in life, where you have to make any decision small or big, as a young girl think twice, seek advice from your elders.
The Kerala Story is probably going to be the biggest hit of your career. How are you celebrating?
By knowing that The Kerala Story is going to change the course of many lives, knowing that we are the voice of so many untold stories, gives me fulfillment. That is my celebration.
So far Hindi cinema has not done justice to your talent. Do you feel your time in Bollywood starts now?
Everything is by the grace of the Almighty! Yet, it is only when the Divine chooses that the flood of his grace descends on select individuals as blessings and specific instructions.