Gracy Singh has quietly transitioned to television and is currently headlining the mythological show Santoshi Maa. The unit has recently wrapped up shooting in Silvassa and after returning to Mumbai, we caught up with the actress to discuss her iconic film Lagaan, which has completed 20 years since its release. She stresses that even though she had a tough time shooting in Bhuj, Gujarat due to various reasons, it turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience and the learnings will always remain with her.
“This film is very special to me. It was a learning experience. We were not just shooting it, but living the life of those characters at every moment. We were so invested in it that it never felt like we were working. It was not easy going through all those moments. The backdrop of it may have been historical, set in a period, but the story is for the future generations. Children can learn so much about life watching it. In life there are ups and downs and you have to remain strong throughout. I learnt that while filming for Lagaan. Then the song O Palan Hare emphasises on the power of prayer. Prayer can make everything happen. It is a motivation," says Gracy.
About getting selected for the role and the preparation ahead of shoot, Gracy shares, “There were several screen tests. I remember doing 2-3 of those. At first, I met Ashutosh (Gowariker) sir and the first audition was for the dance. I performed on Hothon Pe Aisi Baat, my favourite song. Then there were several look tests also. The prep for this role was extensive. We prepared for nearly four months before visiting the sets in January 2000. By the time we started shooting, we had almost remembered all of the script. I had practiced a lot. Once we reached there, we interacted with the locals so that we got to know what life there is like."
About the shoot experience and the challenges she faced while making Lagaan, Gracy adds, “We thought the film would get made during the first few months but summer came and went and so did Monsoon. It really took time. We first shot for the Ghanan Ghanan song. There were long takes in it and we used to rehearse for them in advance with the whole team. That is how we got acquainted with the whole unit and the technicians. The team was really big. There were several people from abroad as well. There were many challenges too. The weather was really dry. My dupatta kept blowing away because of the strong wind and keeping it there was the biggest challenge. No hair pin in the world could keep it still on my head. I am thankful to Reena (Dutta) ji for getting me a special pin that we used during our dance days. I had to keep my face clean and fresh because the wind and dust used to ruin the make-up. We had prepared for the diction in advance but delivering during a scene is a different thing."
Gracy is thankful that Lagaan happened for her. “It is a memory that I will always cherish. The character of Gauri has remained with me. It was like passing out of a university. You never forget what you have learnt. Lagaan set was like an institute where there were no classes, only tests. We faced so many challenges that this time will always be special for me. I am thankful to Ashutosh ji for his continued support. He is a very good actor himself and not only understood the talent of a performer but also kept motivating them. Our confidence used to get boosted with him around. And Aamir (Khan) ji too. He is a great actor. I was new back then. I learnt a lot from him," she signs off.