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Jeniffer Piccinato on working with Kartik Aaryan in Freddy: It was nothing like I’d ever expected

Jennifer Piccinato was recently seen in Thai Massage and Ram Setu.

Jeniffer Piccinato on working with Kartik Aaryan in Freddy: It was nothing like I’d ever expected

  • Shilpa S

Last Updated: 02.37 PM, Nov 20, 2022

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What made you say yes to Ram Setu?

The character was indeed a very interesting one, and it was the kind of role I had never done before, that of a geologist. It was exciting to learn more about the profession, as well as some very specific things about the same. For instance, she was a specialist in this machine called AMS, which is carbon dating technique. It is something so incredible used to study our planet, find solutions for environmental problems and also to find answers from the past as well. That was very interesting for me to do research on and work on the character development and building. Becoming Dr. Gabrielle was a very interesting journey.

And obviously,after meeting the director and seeing how passionate he was about this project. I was impressed by how the directors and production went into so much detail and adopted an almost perfectionist approach to it. That was even more exciting to me.

In Ram Setu, you had engaged in some grueling water stunts, for which you prepared intensely as well. What made you decide to do them on your own and not opt for a stunt double, despite the risks?

I believe that speaks a lot about my personality, as Jennifer more than anything. I love challenges, I love the opportunity to learn something new. And to really challenge myself and see what I can do next. What else I can do, you know, and when I was first approached for the part, I'd asked if there was any stunts, specifically anything to do with martial arts, because that's what I'm already more familiar with. I do jiu jitsu and I am trained in martial arts.

But I've never done water stunts. Towards the fifth or sixth meeting was when the director really asked me the question, ‘Do you know how to swim? Like, have you ever done any water stunts?’ And I was like, ‘No, but I can learn’. After saying yes to that, I took swimming classes, and it was very intense. It was already winter over here, it was cold. The water and temperature wasn't that good, it wasn't warm. It was really cold. But in a way, that was actually good for the stunt itself, because the scene was also in cold waters. My swimming coach also prepared me after knowing a little bit about how my scene was going to be.

The scene was very intense, as it showed the character on the verge of drowning in the water. I had to learn how to swim to perform that more comfortably,and to deliver my performance in a safe way. So that was challenging.I took some diving lessons as well in that short period of time. It was very intense, and I was bulking up for it. I'd gained weight for the part since I really wanted to look different too, and close to what the director envisioned for Dr. Gabrielle's heart and personality. So all of that was happening at the same time. I think what inspired me the most was how the director described the shot. And that was a chance for me to really challenge myself and go beyond the limits that we set in our head, like ‘Oh, I can only do this much’. It was a chance to really push myself to do something new and different.

How was it like working with Akshay Kumar and Jacqueline Fernandez?

It was amazing! Jacqueline Fernandez is such a sweet soul, so helpful and humble. Just being around her was just very calming. And with Akshay, because of the pressure of having that small time frame of just a few hours with him, as he is a very busy actor, that was also incredibly challenging for me as a new actress in the industry. So I had to really make sure to be as sharp as I could be with my performance with my delivery of dialogues,because we didn't have time to waste. It was a very good learning experience to really stay focused on the scene, regardless of the distractions. The fact that there is an adrenaline rush between the action sequences and the stunts and running and escaping and this and that, since its an adventure film, added to the difficulty of staying focused on the lines and the actions and everything that I had to deliver. That was really interesting for me.

Your recent film, Thai Massage, deals with an unconventional story. What made you come on board for the film despite its unconventional subject?

I think the unconventionality was the reason why I said yes to it. I was in the middle of auditioning for many different parts. And luckily, I was getting all the parts together, and each part was different from one another. The part in Thai massage wasn't something that I had in mind at all. Once I met the director and the makers, I saw how close to the director's heart the story was. The film is directed by Mangesh Hadawale, and it's based on his parents' story, which he took inspiration from. I thought that was very touching. Also I was really thrilled to be part of Imtiaz Ali’s production .Working with sir was really worth it. I'm really happy and grateful for the opportunity.

Your upcoming film is Freddy, with Kartik Aaryan. Could you open up a bit about your role in the film?

Well, unfortunately I cannot really speak about the part. But one thing is for sure, it will be a very interesting experience for the audience. It is different from the films that I've done, from the films Kartik Aaryan has done. I'm so excited to see the reaction from the audience more than anything. The director's vision was really, really interesting to me. And it was such a pleasure working with Shashanka Ghosh, Kartik Aaryan and everyone involved. It was a really, really interesting concept. And yeah, I'm just excited to see how the audience will find it.

In the film, Kartik Aaryan plays quite an intense character. How was your dynamic with Karthik off the screen when the cameras weren't rolling?

He's a very professional and polite person. And it was very surprising to me. It was my first time working with him and it was nothing like I’d expected. He approached me and my other colleagues in the scene and introduced himself. Obviously we knew who he was, but he was so sweet and introduced himself and sat with us and discussed the scene a little bit. He is a very sweet and polite guy. It was a pleasure working with him.

You've done a lot of Hindi language projects now. Initially, did you have a hard time navigating the language when you did Hindi projects?

Yes, absolutely. I took a couple of years to really find my way to work with the language. The experience of auditioning for big parts in Hindi was very, very challenging. But I enjoy the process of learning and developing the characters I’m given, working on my accent or dialect, whatever the language is. I’ve auditioned for films in Italian and lots of different languages. For me, language is not a barrier, it's a challenge. It's just the cherry on the cake that you have to learn. For me, it's just like learning a skill for a stunt. I've been very dedicated with my studies in terms of languages. Now I've been learning Telugu, and I'm ready to learn languages going ahead. I am very excited about it.

When working on characters do you rely solely on the inputs from the director and writer? Or do you try to put your own spin into it and make the character your own?

As a person, I'm a little bit stubborn. I have my way of talking and interacting with people, which I think I'm very good at. I've managed to convey my inputs, in terms of scripts, and in terms of the performance and things like that, whenever I could. I remember an instance in Ram Setu.. For the first and the second meeting with the director, I was just testing waters and seeing how much of my Abhishek Sharma would be willing to accept.. At the end of the third meeting, I was like, ‘Sir, can I just show you something? A few notes and your suggestions, if you don't mind?’ And then he said yes to all of it. And everything we see on the screen also has my inputs and my little twist and my little sprinkle of research that I've learned in terms of geology, in terms of the lingo that geologists use, and a few words in Portuguese that I say. And even in terms of the script there were a few lines that were adjusted a little bit to the character. It was such a joy to be heard. I think that was really, really nice.

You've done different genres of work. Is there a particular genre that has become your favorite or is there a particular genre that you want to do in your upcoming projects?

Yes, absolutely. I would love to be part of an action project or maybe a crime series, where I could show my jiu jitsu skills and be 100% badass. I think it would be really, really cool to finally utilise all my training and make my jiu jitsu coach proud.

Could you speak a bit about your upcoming projects? I hear that you are currently working on a South project as well.

Yes, I am working on a very, very interesting South Indian project. It's a pan Indian film and we have a mix of different languages and cultures in the film. And I have a pleasure to work again with my co-star in Ram Setu, Satya Dev. We are both sharing the screen in a very different way this time and I can't wait to be able to speak a little bit more about my character. But one thing's for sure. It will be great to see us sharing screen again in a very different dynamic.

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