x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Growing up is hard but Gippi tackles it with love

We chat with Riya Vij, lead actress in Bollywood film Gippi, opening in the UAE this weekend.

Riya Vij, left, landed the role of Gippi when she accompanied a friend to the audition. Courtesy UTV Motion Pictures
Riya Vij, left, landed the role of Gippi when she accompanied a friend to the audition. Courtesy UTV Motion Pictures

How does a student from Delhi who never even thought about a career in films make her Bollywood debut at the tender age of 14 and in a Karan Johar production at that?

“The acting opportunity just fell into my lap,” says Riya Vij. “And I grabbed it instantly.”

Vij makes her on-screen debut with Karan Johar’s Gippi, which opens in the UAE today. The film promises to be a breath of fresh air after a spate of over-the-top releases featuring mobsters, millionaires and spies. The girl-next-door story stars Vij as Gurpreet Kaur (affectionately known as Gippi) and takes us on a journey of her teenage trials. Gippi struggles with love and friendship, body weight and bad skin and wins everyone over.

“I was surprised to get the role as it was my friend who had auditioned,” reveals Vij, who had gone along with her friend for moral support. “For a while, she was quite down, but eventually we worked it out. She is a close friend and she is very happy for me.”

Vij’s family has proved to be extremely supportive and welcoming of the idea of her in a film. Vij’s mother went through the script with a fine-tooth comb before giving her approval, though.

“She said there was a nice underlying message, that girls should be comfortable in their skin during their growing-up years. She wanted me to do the film,” says Vij, adding that the message of the film resonates personally with her, as well. “No one should be embarrassed about who they are. There are intense physical and emotional changes when we are growing up and it is all natural. The film gives out a message: not to get influenced by others, always try to be yourself.”

Vij isn’t pinning very high hopes on Bollywood, though. She says that a career as a dentist or as a photographer are perfectly acceptable options for her, if films don’t work out.

“At the moment, I am busy completing my studies. Fortunately, I got this chance. It was a great experience. I aim to complete my studies, but if I do get [offered] a good film [role], I will accept it. I am not sure about movies and serials, but if it doesn’t create any hindrance in my studies then I will surely take up any good film or a serial.”

Playing Gippi’s mother in the film is Divya Dutta, who gained recognition in Veer-Zaara, Delhi-6, Special 26 and Zila Ghaziabad.

“I loved doing this film. It is lovely to see your name and face with the Dharma Production tag,” says Dutta. “This is my first film with Karan
Johar. It’s great to work with people you have always admired. Director Sonam is new, but she has shown the growing up years very beautifully.”

Sonam Nair was the assistant director for Dharma Productions’s 2009 film Wake Up Sid. She makes her directorial debut with Gippi, which also makes her the first female director on board a Dharma Productions project.

Karan Johar – the producer of
Gippi – is better known for making romantic films featuring major stars. A young-adult film featuring newbies is quite a departure from his usual style.

Gippi is a new kind of film and it is unusual for us to venture into that space,” explains Johar. “I hope it gets all the love it deserves. The script took me back to my growing-up years. Everyone has a Gippi in them and I’m sure people will connect with the character. Small films need large strategies and we’ll be going all out for this one.”

 

Gippi opens across UAE cinemas today

artslife@thenational.ae

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