As Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jawan crosses the Rs 1,000-crore mark at the worldwide box office, actor-musician Aaliyah Qureishi, who plays Janvi — one of Chief’s trusted girl gang members in the film directed by Atlee — is hopping from one success party to another. Having had an unforgettable experience of working on the film, Aaliyah, a niece of celebrity fitness expert Yasmin Karachiwala, spoke to The Telegraph Online on partying at Mannat and life after Jawan.
Jawan’s cast and crew must have predicted the grand outcome before its release, didn’t they?
Aaliyah Qureishi: It’s awesome to hit it out of the park on the first try! (Smiles) Well, I knew it subconsciously that Jawan would do well. After Pathaan, I had predicted that this was going to happen, so it’s great to see it happen.
It must have been a lot since the film’s release. How have you been?
Aaliyah Qureishi: Yes, it’s been crazy with so many sudden influxes of messages. I am enjoying success before looking at new scripts. I just finished shooting Bandish Bandits Season 2 (for Prime Video).
How do you think the success of Jawan will impact your career?
Aaliyah Qureishi: I hope to get meatier roles. I hope to play strong and independent women. It can be multilayered characters or even vulnerable women. Basically, I want to play women with rich stories.
More than the recognition and how it turned out, the experience of being on such a big set, working with such a large organisation, being with so many stars and working with such a big crew has prepared me for a feature film because nothing is going to be as big as Jawan. I feel confident that I am trained for the film industry. Hope I will get projects that are creatively stimulating and interesting to do.
Going back, how did Jawan happen in the first place?
Aaliyah Qureishi: I bagged the role through an audition. Atlee sir wants to take newcomers in his films. He had written an audition scene for me. After I did it, he called me to the office, and we spoke. He asked a few questions about fight training and changing my hairstyle. I was willing to do everything. He called a week later to tell me that I had got the role.
What was your first exchange of words with Shah Rukh Khan?
Aaliyah Qureishi: I was excited to meet him. I met him just after shooting the intro scene. I told him we were excited to shoot with him. He said, ‘Not more excited than I am.’ He is kind, humble and down to earth. He hugged us warmly.
How many Jawan success parties have you been to yet?
Aaliyah Qureishi: (Laughs) We have had a lot of success parties. We had an after-party on the night of the screening and then another one after the first day; Shah Rukh Khan sir had invited us to Mannat. It was a dream-come-true moment. Then, there was another party at Atlee sir’s place after the press conference.
Did you get to chat with Shah Rukh Khan or ask for his advice during these fun parties?
Aaliyah Qureishi: It was a fun experience to kind of talk to Shah Rukh sir off the set as he is a different person on the set. He goes into a different zone. He is so much fun off the set. We partied with him, his family and friends. It was a very sweet and intimate experience. He was gracious and generous to us the whole time. He has given acting advice. After the screening, I wanted to know what was on his mind. He said, no one knows what’s good and bad. It will unfold. Keep working. It will get better…. He has a calm headspace even before the release.
You are a musician as well as an actor. Do you feel Jawan will benefit both careers?
Aaliyah Qureishi: My character in Jawan is a musician. There’s a scene where I was asked to hold a guitar. It was easy as I even knew how to play it. In one of the scenes with Shah Rukh Khan sir, I made up a melody. Even in Bandish Bandits Season 2, it helped the acting process. They complement each other.
(Jawan co-actor) Sanjeeta Bhattacharya and I are collaborating on a song. It’s a fun English song about hyping up your fellow women. We have plans to record it soon and we can also come up with a music video. We have written, composed and sung it. Sanjeeta has become my best friend. She lived in my house for a month. We studied in the same country.
What else is keeping you busy?
Aaliyah Qureishi: Besides acting, I am also working on my music. I worked on Jawan for two years. It had challenging stunts, so I am taking time to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labour as I don’t want to burn out.