Looking at her ultra-glam persona, you wouldn’t believe she’s an outsider. The Bareilly ki ladki has fitted beautifully in showbiz. All her films, be it Dhoni: The Untold Story, Bharat, Baaghi 2 or the recent Malang have been 100-crore plus hits. She has got the hottest boyfriend to boot in Tiger Shroff, though she refuses to talk about him. While boys crush over her, girls dig her sartorial story. Her sylphlike charm ensures she doesn’t look offensive even in the skimpiest bikini. Her haute and hot Instagram posts raise the fashion bar as well as the heart rates of her followers. In fact, her chic fashion outings were likened to delectable chocolate flavours by her clique.
The gorgeous Disha Patani was the surprise factor in her last release Malang opposite Aditya Roy Kapur. Disha reveals that she’s an introvert and yet is close to her character in spirit. “Like my character Sara in Malang, I’m independent. Yet, I’m not so carefree and I’m not living life from one high to another. I’m still exploring myself,” she smiles. It’s difficult to believe when she says she’s an introvert. She insists that she doesn’t know many people in the industry. Nor does she mingle with people outside of work or attend parties. “I get awkward in social places,” she explains. “I just like being at home, doing gymnastics and dance.” She accepts that showbiz is all about mingling. But it’s still tough going for her as she doesn’t even drink. “Plus, the food is awful,” she grins. “So I get stuck for nothing.”
What she reveals next comes as a shocker. She confides she was bullied as a teenager because she looked like a tomboy. “Up to the 10th standard, I had short hair. I was thin and tall. I looked like a boy. People used to call me jhadu and bully me. But I was so engrossed in my own small world that I didn’t bother. Thankfully, all that has helped me now. No matter what people say, things don’t affect me,” she smiles.
Disha began modelling at 18. She was working hard at a time when girls her age were living life to the hilt. Alongside studying, she did commercials and walked the ramp. She had an ambitious streak even then. She knew what she wanted from life and worked towards that. But she always had a good head on her shoulders. “I used to stay in a models’ apartment. There were foreigners there. A lot of shit used to happen in the apartment. But I stayed away from all that. I had a good upbringing. I’m aware of things around me,” she claims.
She began her acting career with the Telugu film Loafer in 2015. Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, based on the life of ace cricketer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, marked her Hindi debut. She also starred in the Chinese action comedy Kung Fu Yoga, which ranks among one of the highest-grossing Chinese films. Ahmed Khan’s Baaghi 2, Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat and Malang are her other commercial superhits. While she played an ultra-cool character in Malang, Dhoni had her in a non-glam avatar and Baaghi 2 saw her play a mother. She related to the characters in Dhoni and Baaghi 2 because she hails from a small-town herself. “I am a small-town girl. Also, I don’t go out looking for roles where I can appear glamorous. My main concern is the script,” she says.
She’s not a trained actor. Hence every time she steps on a film set it’s like beginning afresh. Each time she works with a new director, she has to absorb a new way of doing things. It’s frightening and fascinating at the same time. The insecurity keeps her alert. “I like to feel emotions. I like to feel my lines and say it the way one would in real life. I still have so much to learn,” she reasons. Given her status as a 100-crore heroine, she could get any project she likes. But Disha hasn’t signed on that many films. It may be that she’s choosy. “I didn’t want to be an actress. I was too shy to ever believe I could be in front of the camera. I didn’t like being clicked; I was that wary. Then I landed up here. So it’s not easy for me to say yes promptly. I take my time in choosing,” she explains.
Though reserved by nature, Disha thaws in front of the camera. “I’m only shy in front of people. That’s so weird. Once the camera is on, I enjoy being in front of it. As though no one’s watching me,” she chuckles. She doesn’t have a coterie or a support system to help her take decisions. “I don’t have people telling me do this, do that’. I listen to myself whether it’s choosing a film or taking any other step,” she maintains.
She’ll soon be seen opposite Salman Khan in Prabhudheva’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, which marks her second collaboration with the superstar after Bharat. Fan expectations are high from this jodi. She has nothing but fond memories of Bharat where her number, Slow Motion, was a chartbuster. “I love dancing. I always wanted to do that one great song. I was so happy that I got to do Slow Motion with Salman sir. Vaibhavi Merchant is one of my favourite choreographers,” she smiles. She confesses to being intimidated by Salman but clarifies he’s a caring co-star. She admires him for his comic timing. “Comedy is tough. I used to believe emotional scenes are hard but comedy is something else. Salman sir guided me when we did such scenes.”
Our leading ladies are fast veering towards middle-of-the-road cinema but Disha wants to enjoy the commercial space. She likes doing actioners and comedy. “No one has approached me for the arthouse kind of cinema so far. I’ll do it if I’m in a state of mind to do it,” she states. She’s a hardcore believer in destiny and attributes her stardom to a bigger plan. She smiles, “I’m from Bareilly and couldn’t imagine being here someday. I was doing BTech. I wanted to be an air force pilot. Then I came here and things just fell in place. It’s not like I want to be on the top. I enjoy the journey more than anything else”
Now, that’s profound.