Athiya Shetty, 22, is not just stylish but she is also simple, genuine, quiet, affectionate and sensitive and And while she is mature and confident, she is also completely mad and stressed out, but prefers to not show her emotions until she knows the person completely and Ahead of her debut film Hero being directed by Nikhil Advani, she opens up to Bombay Times in her first ever interview and Excerpts from our conversation with this clear star in the making.
Let’s talk about your childhood?
I am born and brought up in Mumbai and my dad got into the film industry around the time I was born and I went to Cathedral first for a bit, after which my parents shifted me to the American School as they wanted me to do the IB programme and I was amongst the first few Indian kids along with Tiger and his sister Krishna Shroff to join the school and Shraddha Kapoor and Tiger were two years older to me and they were classmates and While Tiger would always be bullying and troubling me, Krishna and I were best friends and I used to look at Shraddha in awe when I was in school, as she was good at everything.
She was a drama student, she used to dance, and she used to sing and Even at that time everyone knew that she would be an actor and Our school, of course, is really happy and proud now that we have all gone into Bollywood and My mom would make sure I had my breakfast and would go and and drop me all the way to school every day from Altamount Road in town to Bandra Kurla Complex and I used to love watching films since I was young and I can recite the full dialogues of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
Tiger Shroff is extremely humble and an amazing human being: Athiya Shetty
I was actually a very filmy child but was never allowed any film magazines at home and since we lived in town, we were very disconnected to the filmy world, except for Tiger and Krishna but I loved watching movies and dancing in front of the mirror, singing songs and would go every Friday to watch films and I watched every film, bad, good and can never walk out of a film and it can be atrocious but I will make everyone watch it and I was also a good student and I need to give a 100% and do well in everything.
What is Tiger Shroff like?
Tiger Shroff is such an amazing human being and is extremely humble and that is the nicest thing about him and now he has such a fan following and everyone loves him, but he is still the same person and he is so down to earth so he was like that in school also and there is no change in him and he is extremely hard working and I would go to Krishna’s house every weekend and she would be in my house every weekend and we were joined at the hip and are best friends till today and our dads too were friends and our mums were also very close.
How did you get your first film Hero?
It was actually my younger brother who always dreamt of becoming an actor and not me and For me, it was always a hidden thing and And even though my dad was never against my coming into films, I don’t know why I never told him or showed any interest to him and So after Class XII, I had given my IB exams and was going to the US to see where I wanted to apply and all of that and We were on our way back from the New York and I was sitting at Heathrow Airport and was feeling stressed out and I remember going to all these colleges and forget the academics, and I was just looking out for film and theatre and my mom noticed it.
He is a very realistic person and is also my biggest critic and I am so lucky that he will not mollycoddle me and tell me I am the best, but will tell me straight up and He told me, ‘You need to understand that every Friday holds something different and with success, there is failure and So I went to New York Film Academy with a really good friend of mine and lived in New York all alone in an apartment for a year and That was a life- changing experience for me as it made me grow up and My dad was really scared leaving me there alone.
He taught me how to iron and my mom taught me how to cook and Be it making my bed, cleaning the house or looking after the keys of the house, I did all of that and I was 18 then and I learnt the importance of living alone and being comfortable by being yourself and It taught me a lot and It was an amazing time and a transition in life and But I loved staying alone and discovering myself and I was not the type of person while growing up who could be alone and always needed people around me, but I learnt to be alone and live in silence and It really helps you switch on and off and So many kids there thought that I was a spoilt brat, as my dad was paying for my education and that was so alien to me and I returned after a year and signed Hero that is being produced by Salman Khan.
Who do you love the most in the world?
I am very close to my parents, but I love my grandfather the most and Right in this moment, he can’t speak and is paralysed so I try and spend as much time with him and I have heard so many stories from him on how he came to Mumbai and made his life and For me, really what makes him so larger than life is that he doesn’t discriminate between a boy and a girl.
The fact is that he sent both my buas even at that time to the US even though he did not have the money, but he thought it was important for a girl to get an education and As important as it is for a boy and He always encourages me to work and would always say, ‘Why are you at home? Why are you not at work?’ I would go and buy vegetables with him every morning as a kid and I remember he bought me my first DVD of Dil To Pagal Hai and I admire him for his modern values and He is so liberating.
Talk about your father Suniel Shetty?
He is extremely emotional and He sees an India-Pakistan match and he will have a tear in his eye and I am like, are you kidding me? But my childhood was extremely happy, full of love and simple and He never let us experience his career hits or flops and That’s all a child can ask for, a happy home and he gave that and As a child, when we went to a restaurant and someone would come and ask for his autograph, I would get so irritated, but now I understand the importance of that.
The thing I love about her is that even if I make a mistake, she will never point it out and Instead, she will just help me move past my mistake and Though I was not allowed sleepovers, my parents have never been strict with us, but we were good children and I had so much respect that I would never want to let them down in any way and
Have you had a serious relationship?
I have had a boyfriend in the past when I was around 18 and I am not the type of person to ever have flings and I would not invest my time and energy in a person when I know it’s not going to work out and
Who would you give to?
My grandfather and my parents, my brother and Sooraj Pancholi, as he is my best friend and Sooraj is extremely emotional, has a huge heart and wears his heart on his sleeve.