Piaa Bajpai debuted in Bollywood with Laal Rang, but before that, she had already done over a dozen films down south. From being a part of multiple brand ad campaigns including gaana.com, to her next film, which will see her opposite Darshan Kumar of Mary Kom fame, Piaa talks about her journey from a small town in UP to silver screen. And how multiple lies helped her journey…
Piaa tells us about your roots and the journey to Mumbai.
I am from Etawah, a small town in UP. I wanted to do something with my life and hence I left Etawah for Delhi. To keep myself floating I started tuition classes for a few small kids. That is a good business in Delhi and helped me. I also worked as a receptionist. Then my father told me that if I do not do something with my life soon I would remain a receptionist all my life. That thought scared me and I decided to come to Mumbai.
…and after coming to Mumbai how difficult was it to find a foothold in Mumbai
It was a hard decision to come to Mumbai and the initial struggle was difficult. When I look back at it I don’t even understand how I managed it. I had to start my journeys from ground zero and it was tough. I became a receptionist here as well as I had no money with me. I had lied to my parents that I was cast in a serial and hence I could not have asked them for money. The job however did not leave me with any time to do anything else. I took a film directory and started going for auditions whenever possible. I did not even have a portfolio. Somehow I got a dubbing job when I had gone for an audition. Slowly I did more dubbing before I let it go and started doing print ads and then video ads.
Your first ad film was something very difficult for you…
Yes, the first ad I shot was for KFC chicken and I am a vegetarian. When I was auditioning for the ad I lied that I am non vegetarian as I needed the work. I decided to deal with God later. I was hoping that I won’t have to eat but my director told me to eat it. They gave me a plate of chicken and my throat dried out of fear. I had to bite into it. Later, when my mother questioned me, I had to lie that it was not chicken but deep fried cauliflower coated in chickpea flour.
…and how did your first Tamil film happen?
I was shooting an ad in south with Priyadarshan sir. That’s when he told me that he would like to work with me. At first, I thought he was not serious but he actually called me couple of days later. He was producing the Tamil remake of Khosla Ka Ghosla and asked if I could speak Tamil. I lied blatantly that I could speak. I could not have said ‘no’ to Priyadarshan. I would have said I could speak Chinese too, had he asked. Opportunities don’t come easy. It was only when we started shooting that I realized what I had got myself into. On the second day of shoot, I called him and started crying that I can’t do it. He laughed and said he knew I would call and was happy that I called him later than he thought I would! He expected my call within the first day itself.
It took you over 5 years to make an entry in Bollywood?
I gave auditions. I did not really get anything where the script worked. I did not want to take up something just for the sake of it. So I took time to make an entry in bollywood. From 2008 to 2014, I have done 14 films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and English. I worked in a Hindi film called Mumbai Delhi Mumbai, a remake of a Marathi film called Mumbai Pune Mumbai, but it never got released.
Do you have any regrets in life?
None! All work I have done – even it has been a small print shoot – I did it because I needed to do it at that point of time. All work I have done has taught me something.
…Is there anyone special in life?
Not as of now. I am very open about my life. If I was dating someone I would be singing songs about it.
Tell us about your next film…
Mirza Juliet: Emotion ka Confusion. It is a brilliant subject that features Darshan Kumar and me. I am hoping this film will take me ahead.