There isn’t a soul in the world who wouldn’t jump at the chance to make a grand debut in a film starring the one and only Shah Rukh Khan. Musician and actor Sanjeeta Bhattacharya is one of the lucky few who stepped into a fairytale the moment she started working with the charismatic and legendary Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Jawan’, which was released worldwide in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. Directed by Atlee, the film featured superstars from the South Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi. Independent singer-song writer, graduated from Berklee School of Music, Sanjeeta made her mark alongside her girl squad making critics sit up and take notice

1: How did you get the offer to be a part of this huge film opposite SRK?
I was in Kolkata for my concert when I received a call for Jawan. A week later, in Mumbai, I auditioned nonchalantly without knowing much about the project. Soon I was told that I’d gotten through and the protagonist was SRK. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! It was a truly surreal moment.

2: How was your experience working with SRK?
It’s dreamlike. He is everything I was told he’d be – intelligent, witty, humble, relatable and generous with his art. Our conversations felt like speaking to a wise friend. I never thought I’d be sitting in a massive film set, dancing, singing and having coffee with SRK. Unbelievable! He made sure everyone on set was at ease. When he found out I am a musician, he brought in a guitar and mic on set the next day to have me sing for the cast. It was so thoughtful. He was everything I had heard of. From being startlingly intelligent, witty, extremely humble to being relatable and generous with his art form, here was a man who spoke like a wise friend. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I will have coffee, sing and dance with SRK. It felt like I was living a dream.

3: How was it working with the brilliant cast including superstars from the South Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi and others?
On set, everyone is on the same boat. We shared laughs and became friends, given our collective experience of shooting for almost two years, on and off. There is so much to learn from these seasoned actors, just by observing them. I think the biggest gift I am taking from the sets of Jawan is a group of genuinely kind hearted, goofy, talented, funny people I now call friends.

4: When you got the offer for the role, how did you react?
I received a call from Mukesh Chhabra sir’s office telling me that I was selected for the role. At the time of the audition, I didn’t know much about the project but once I was told about the other actors involved, I let out a really loud shriek of disbelief and delight! Every question that followed after that, I responded with an immediate YES!

5: Previously you were part of web series Feels Like Ishq and Broken News on OTT. Do you think Jawan will be that turning point you were looking for in your acting career?
Absolutely! Jawan is my debut in theatrical films. Needless to say, I am over the moon about it! It’s an honour to be a part of a project like this. My work has been noticed and I look forward to more such incredible scripts and opportunities. The film is a treat to the eyes given G.K Vishnu’s vision. Atlee sir has weaved an intriguing, exciting and important story that needs to be told, something that will pull your heart strings. I can only hope that I continue to be considered for such incredible stories.

6: You are a trained singer too. How are you balancing both singing and acting simultaneously?
I don’t consider it a challenge. It’s never all work and no play. I am blessed enough to say that my work is play as well! I just have to manage my time between performing, writing music and acting projects. The key is to strike a good work-life balance. I am now based in three cities- Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and I shuttle between them often. It’s not hard because I honestly love what I do.

7: What do you love more – lights, camera and action or interacting with live audience as a singer?
Both the artforms, to me, are forms of empathy. Music is very personal and introspective. It’s a reflection of me, wearing my heart on my sleeve for my audience. It’s a vulnerable state of being. Acting is putting myself in my character’s shoes, surrendering to my imagination and the director’s vision. I love both equally. They both help me explore my own potential.

8: Which is more liberating- creating your own music or being a character as per the script and portraying it on screen?
I do feel like I have more control over the outcome when it comes to music and a bigger sense of freedom of expression.

9: How was your experience dancing with King Khan in Zinda Banda?
It’s not every day that you can say that you were on a massive set dancing with Shah Rukh Khan and 1000 women. The experience was unforgettable. There is so much to learn from Sir in terms of hard work and dedication and just the art of showing up! Some of the most are complicated in the choreography, but so was flawless. I am in awe of his calibre as a performer. Wearing a lungi with sunglasses, was one of the highlights of the dance because I felt so badass! Doing the classic Shah Rukh Khan arm move with Shah Rukh Khan himself was an iconic moment!

10: You were nominated for the Grammy’s? Tell us more.
Everyone worked so hard on every track on the album, Shururaat. We came together as a unit so even though it’s a nomination; it feels like a win for the team! I remember seeing John Legend announcing the nomination on screen and I teared up with joy. Shuruaat is a group of incredibly talented people from around the world bringing together their influences, singing in South East Asian regional languages and arranging it all together. I had the opportunity of lending my voice in the songs Pinha, Arz-e-Niyaz and Jaago Piya. I’m truly humbled and grateful to Annette Philip for having me!

It has its pros and cons. Being a signed artist by a label guarantees a wider audience and copious amount of funds put into marketing the artist. However, the labels often curb your artistic expression by choosing a certain kind of sound that’s “acceptable” or “trending”. Being an independent artist myself, I would like to organically reach my audiences and am looking for a label that empowers Indie artists and is open to exploring new sounds.

11: Awards and recognition, how important is it for you as an independent singer-songwriter?
I think the recognition of your skill and garnering a solid, loyal audience is important as an indie singer-songwriter. Once you have that, awards will follow.

12: What is in the pipeline in your music career? Also, tell us about your upcoming movie projects?
There’s a series of singles including “X Marks The Spot” and “My Heart” which are a part of my first EP, Dear Diary. I would love to lend my voice for film music, both Bollywood and regional. There is nothing in the pipeline in this regard as of now but I’m manifesting it!

I’m shooting for The Broken News on Zee5 and have also finished shooting for a series on Amazon Prime. You will also be seeing me in Sabbir Khan’s Adbhut and another project alongside Pankaj Kapoor sir.