The beautiful and talented Waluscha De Sousa has been soaking in the attention and adulation that her new song ‘Chingari‘ has got online. This lavni dance number from ‘Antim‘ has raked in millions of views in just a few days and Waluscha is surprised that people have accepted and liked her in a traditional Marathi dance form that’s nowhere near her usual Western-styled personality. In an exclusive chat with ETimes, the model-turned-actress talks about working on a challenging dance form like lavni and also reveals that the support and advice from Salman Khan is a boon for any artiste. Excerpts:
How do you feel about the response to ‘Chingari’, your new dance number from ‘Antim’?
The response coming in has been very favourable and the numbers keep jumping. I feel happy that the response has been so great!
What was your reaction when you were first approached to do this song? This is a traditional lavni dance number, in ways it was a complete contrast to your modelling background and western visage.
I had never imagined myself in a saree, dancing to lavni steps, looking like a Maharashtrian. But somehow, Mahesh sir had that belief and he made me do it. Perhaps it was a coastal connection that worked for us, since I am from Goa and he’s from Maharashtra (laughs).
‘Chingari’ depicts a dying art form of lavni, one that Mahesh sir wanted to revive through ‘Antim’. Because our audience comes from a diverse country and culture, one was concerned about what the feedback would be like because we are putting out a dance form so specific to one culture. But the response has been great. The fact that we are sitting here and talking about lavni is the real success story. That is exactly what we had set out to do with this song.
Lavni is a complex dance form. How did you prepare for ‘Chingari’?
We worked really hard through the three days that we got for rehearsals. What one usually gets three months to prep up for, we did in three days. So we had to work extensive hours, on days I was rehearsing for nine hours. My choreographer Kriti deserves all the credit for pulling me through all this. She’s done the song ‘Pinga’ and worked very closely with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. She was able to get the emotions and expressions out of me.
The footwork required in a lavni song can be pretty intense. Your feet are required to move with a certain speed and rhythm. Our preparation helped me a lot even though I was nursing a past injury while shooting the song. But all that effort is worth it when you get such good feedback from the audience.
A statement dance number in a film featuring Salman Khan. Were you excited?
My excitement was limited to the morning of the release of the song. Then when I realised that the song was going to launch at 12 pm, I was nervous and anxious.
What do you feel about your co-star Aayush Sharma? His character in ‘Antim’ looks totally different from what he’s done before.
Aayush is in a completely different avatar. It’s like a newly packaged Aayush for the audience when compared to his first film ‘Loveyatri’. It’s been an amazing journey for him and I am totally rooting for him because he has worked so hard for this role.
There are going to be huge expectations from the film…
People are excited to see Salman on the big screen again because there’s been a huge gap due to the pandemic. So that excitement is there, there is a lot of expectation, too.
Salman Khan is known to mentor new talent. What sort of advice did he offer you during the making of the song?
He is someone who always encourages people. He believes in people more than they believe in themselves. There’s a lot of advice that comes in, and one has to be receptive to that. But I also believe self-belief is very important. And I think one should take that advice and follow through.
Salman Khan is also known to help artistes catch a break and he’s always been vocal about promoting and helping talented individuals. Was it reassuring for you that such a big star is backing you in such a big film as well?
He’s spent his entire career giving people opportunities, which I feel is a very rare trait in the industry in general. You don’t see that with very many people. He’s very selfless in that way, giving people opportunities and helping them out. He doesn’t extend himself just for friends and family, but for so many people who don’t even know him directly. He does a lot through his charitable trust as well. That’s the human being he has always been.
You’ve worked in movies, with reality shows on television and now you are exploring OTT with web shows, too. Of the three, which platform is most competitive and why?
Each one comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Every platform is very different. Television is distinctly different from OTT, OTT is very different from movies. But they all require the same definite dedication. I could say that the audience is also different across these three mediums. Personally, I wouldn’t pick one from these, because all three have given me great opportunities. Regardless of the platform, I just want to work hard and continue to receive the adulation from the audience.
You’ve got some exciting shows coming up like Season 2 of ‘Crackdown’ and ‘Escaype Live’ as well. What are these shows about?
The response and feedback for Garima Kalra, my character in ‘Crackdown’ Season 1 surprised me a lot. It was a negative character, but it connected with the audience in a big way. In Season 2, I’ll be hoping that I give the love back to the audience. It’s in the action thriller space so I am looking forward to doing all the action and stunts. ‘Escaype Live’ is a tech thriller and its subject is very relevant to our current times of social media. I’ve got a big show with Abbas Mustan, too. Hopefully, it will release next year, too.
Watch the interview here: