Monday, February 26, 2024

Art in her blood; Zahrah carries forward the legacy down South

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Pop-singer-turned-actress Zahrah S Khan who is all set to make her debut down south with Vrushabha, gets candid with The Pioneer about hailing from an influential family, making her debut in South, and more.

SHIKHA DUGGAL

Not a princess locked up in an old castle, not the princess forced to wait on the whims of villains — in lieu, pop-singer-turned-actress Zahrah S Khan will be seen playing the role of a modernised warrior princess!

Not at all reflecting on any old-fashioned sensibilities: we will be seeing the daughter of the illustrious singer Salma Agha making her south debut with Mohanlal’s Vrushabha. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a throwback romance but the producers and the filmmaker of the movie are aiming a little higher this time! We were forlornly waiting to hear from the new debutante on block, and with paramount grace Zahrah assented to speak to us for our tollywood reportage and we are pleased to have her on board.

“There was no “S” in my name, I have added this alphabet on purpose. To others, it may be just simple ABC but to me “S” stands for intensity. It’s the first letter of my mother’s name who all of you splendidly know as Salma Agha. Throughout my life, I want to make myself think of the daughter of Salma Agha.”

Before plummeting into the details of her debut, it was important for us to know about her solitary ethnicity, “I was born in a family rich in culture, the Khan Squash Dynasty. From the past five generations, we are playing an exclusive role in the entertainment industry. My great-grandmother starred as the leading lady in Heer Ranjha, made before partition opposite my great-grandfather Jugal Kishore Mehra. Then my grandmother starred in Ak Kardar’s film Shahjahan and then my mother made her debut in this industry with Nikaah. All the women in my family were the leading ladies either in the form of actresses/singers. I am supposed to carry their legacy because art is in my blood! My fathe’’s family was no less (she bursts into laughter) — they come from an illustrious sports arena. My paternal great-grandfather Nasrullah Khan was the sports coach to Maharaja of Raigarh, thereafter he went on to become the coach to Lord Vavel who was incharge of the Queen in those times. Not to forget, he was one of the firsts to create the squash ball.”

Moving on, we were curious to know when did the acting bug for the South films really bit her that she came on board for Nanda Kishore’;s film, “Apple never falls from the tree, my mother was always reassuring me to be a part of the entertainment industry because she had seen some incredible highs given to her by this industry. I believe in crossovers, and have seen it first-hand in my family! Artists shouldn’t worry about crossing borders for art. Then I heard Ekta Kapoor is the co-producer and she’s one of those women leading from the front — that’s really attractive to me. Possibly, another reason I said yes to Vrushabha.”

So how did she work around the dialect, “We are still preparing, the dialect coach is busy training me to get the dialect absolutely apt. These days I am either busy learning new dance forms or getting my dialect right for the upcoming movie. To play a warrior princess rather than just a princess was where the real fun lied for me! I am already the daughter of a sportsperson — my action sequences are in full swing.”

She continued to express, “I had watched Black Widow and Salt off-late, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson. There I saw these actresses packing in a few punches, swinging swords but my character is Indianised but the core was the same. Feeling that confidence in me was very important to showcase the fighter in me from the past. It’s precisely the feeling that I can protect myself on my own.”

Finally, letting us know about the grandeur of the film and, she says, “The bar is going to touch almost two-hundred crores for our film. The periodic look is set-up in London and the sets are magnificent as they should be. My director’s vision is so clear that he’s even focussing on something so smaller like my earrings and then going on to the gigantic set locations.”

You are going to walk in with a lot of expectations given the mega-budget, high profile leading superstar, a super-hit director, hit production houses and wait for the huge publicity blitz with fresh faces like Zahrah S Khan.

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