New Delhi: If you've watched the Zoya Akhtar-directed ensemble film Dil Dhadakne Do, chances are that you gave the credits more than just a cursory glance, looking for the name of the actress who played Noorie Sood, charming co-conspirator to Ranveer Singh's character. Making her Bollywood debut in the film, first-timer Ridhima Sud is now the girl everyone wants to know more about. A Google search will tell you that she switched to acting from a fledgling corporate career and belongs to a non-filmy Delhi family. Here's what Google won't tell you about Ridhima, one-film old but here to stay.
How did Dil Dhadakne Do happen to you and what attracted you to Noorie's character?
I was called to audition for the part. I didn't know much about the character when I read for it but what eventually attracted me to Noorie was that she was not a cinematic cliche in any way. In contemporary Indian cinema, often if a girl drinks and parties she's implied as having "loose morals" or when she's rich and pretty she's also bratty or when she's sweet and vulnerable she's neither of the above. I liked how Noorie was very real - she loves life, does what she wants without being obnoxiously bratty, and is vulnerable and naive without being dumb. I just really liked her.
How different from or like Noorie are you in person?
As a girl, I can relate to Noorie in the sense I know what heartbreak feels like and what the excitement of new love feels like. She does what she wants which is also relatable. Noorie is super stylish and into the latest fashion trends and I am not. I have a personal style that's slightly edgier but it's more an extension of my creative self. I'm not a fashionista and don't want to be one in the traditional sense of the word. I am less frills and fancy I think, for eg, I would eat rajma chawal with my bare hands on any given Sunday and I don't see Noorie doing that! Haha. I relate to her a decent amount but I'm not Noorie.
What were the challenges of appearing in an ensemble cast that pitted you against the likes of Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra? Were you afraid of getting lost?
You know, everyone asks me this. And it honestly did not cross my mind even for a second! I was so excited to be working with such strong actors and could only see the positive in the situation. Plus the script was very favourable to Noorie. Even when she's not on screen she's being talked about. I was too grateful to let any fear creep in.
What are your best memories from filming Dil Dhadakne Do? And your favourite moment?
There are so many great memories! We docked in a new city every other day. Every day was exciting.
Who was the maddest Mehra on set?
It's a tie. They're all mad in the nicest most fun sense of the word.
Before and after Dil Dhadakne Do - how have you changed?
Hmmm. I don't know. I'm happier as an actor because I feel validated on some level that I've already worked with one of my favourite directors and people seem to have liked what I did. I don't think I've changed as a person but I've learned a lot and acquired some new skills.
You transitioned from a career on Wall Street to one in showbiz. How hard was it to make the change?
I don't know how it became such a big deal but it's not like I was managing and investing millions. It wasn't exactly a career. I got myself a job and did it for a few months just to prove to my parents that I am capable of being financially independent and taking care of myself so they wouldn't be too worried when I told them that I wanted to act. But it was also to confirm for myself that it's definitely not something I want. I studied economics and politics and for the sake of my education which I value immensely, I at least wanted to see the theory of it all applied in practice. Which I did. But I couldn't see myself staying motivated enough to be the best in that field. My heart was elsewhere.
What lessons from corporate life would you or have you apply/applied to Bollywood?
Diversify your portfolio. Hedge your bets but don't be risk averse.
You've spoken about your family being taken aback by your career switch - tell us more?
Haha! It's not quite as dramatic. They were just surprised and my dad was trying to show me the benefits of the secure world that they had built for me to keep me away from entering a field like acting, where success rates are low and barriers to entry are high. They have worked hard to give me a blessed life and just didn't want to see me sign up for the kind of struggle that they had seen. But I was convinced that I had to chase a grander ideal and not money to be happy in the long run. It was always the arts for me. They knew all they could do is wish me luck. I've been on my own financially and otherwise in Mumbai. TV commercials helped with visibility and the bills. But films are the end goal. Although with 24, TV has become very exciting.
My Nani was actually the most mortified. She was worried I'll never get married!
Are you here to stay? What's next?
I should hope so. This is where I am the happiest and feel truly fulfilled. I think that I'm in the healing business. When you help tell stories and depict the truth of the human existence you heal people. Seeing that we are all in the human experience together can be therapeutic. And to me acting in its most noble form is like doing God's work. You are serving a grander purpose when you reach out to millions through action and emotion. So yes I would love to stay and do that.