After a power-packed performance as an upright journalist in Anirduddha Roy Chowdhury’s Lost (streaming on ZEE5), Yami Gautam Dhar has taken a 180-degree turn with Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga, set to release on Netflix on March 24.
Directed by Ajay Singh, Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga is a heist/hijack thriller in which Yami plays flight attendant Neha Grover. The film stars Vicky Kaushal’s younger brother Sunny Kaushal as businessman Ankit Sethi. Ahead of the film’s release, we caught up with Yami at Netflix’s Mumbai office.
Talking about how she went about deciding on Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga, the 34-year-old actress said, “Is it exciting for me as an actor and audience? Would I watch this film? That’s what I’m thinking when I am reading a script. I thought Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga was one of those films. It’s very different from the films I have done in the recent past. It’s a popcorn entertainment heist thriller. I watched the film a few days ago and I had fun watching it.” It has been produced by Maddock Films, the house behind films such as Love Aaj Kal, Badlapur, Mimi and Bhediya.
Yami hasn’t had a theatrical release since Bala in 2019, directed by Amar Kaushik. Does the platform on which her film is releasing – whether cinemas or OTT — matter to her? “I have had my share of good theatrical releases – Vicky Donor, Badlapur, Kaabil, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Bala. Theatrical release has its own fun. No other medium can give a cinematic experience that a theatre can give, which is how films were designed to be watched. It cuts you off from the outer world, the director takes you into his world, and you forget everything else,” said Yami. “But we adapt with time. Nobody would have thought that OTT would change the demography of watching cinema. My sincerity towards my performance will remain the same, whether the film is going to release in cinemas or on OTT,” she added.
Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga is Yami’s sixth OTT film and the third Netflix Original Film in India. Besides, Yami was last year’s breakout star on OTT, with Disney+Hotstar’s A Thursday – starring her in the lead role of a schoolteacher who takes several children hostage — being the second most-streamed film in 2022.
Have these OTT releases widened her reach among audiences? “Definitely. It’s challenging to find your audience. And the kind of shift I have seen in my audiences based on what I read about myself, and I take it seriously, is that ‘If Yami is part of a film, then it must be something different, let’s watch it.’ I respect my audience a lot. I value their verdict the most,” said Yami, who also saw success with the direct-to-digital release Dasvi last year.
Yami made her feature film debut in 2012 with Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor, which was made on a modest budget but became a big commercial success. Her 2019 release Uri: The Surgical Strike, directed by her now husband Aditya Dhar, was also made on a medium budget that went on to become a blockbuster.
“Where a film should land is a producer’s prerogative because it’s their money, especially with mid-budget films. Although Uri was a huge surprise for a mid-budget film, the math for a mid-budget film is very different. The makers have to be safe and make sure that they will be able to recover their money,” explained Yami.