Avantika Khattri: From MBA degree to playing newsreader in 'War Chhod Na Yaar'

Written by Priya Adivarekar | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 18 2013, 20:56pm hrs
Avantika Khattri'War Chhod Na Yaar' actor Avantika Khattri speaks of how she followed her dreams.
Launch vehicle: From an MBA degree to playing a newsreader in War Chhod Na Yaar, Avantika Khattri talks about how she finally decided to follow her dreams:

War Chhod Na Yaar is a comic satire on the India-Pakistan war and shows how both the countries try their best to avoid wars, but political pressure wills it otherwise. The film also explores how the Chinese have succeeded in invading the commercial market of our country through their low price goods. My character is called Sakshi, who works as a news host and co-ordinates with the on field reporters. She is a regular 25 year old working girl, who is Soha Ali Khans confidante and colleague. Its an important role that I play, because the character is the connecting thread between the panelists sitting in the newsroom and the people who are on field.

Casting coup

I went through two - three rounds of audition. The role was that of a newsreader, so I observed a lot of newsreaders on various news channels and prepared everything on my own. During the audition, they gave me lengthy dialogues to check whether I could pull off the role. Finally, after a couple of days, the makers told me that I was selected, and so I started preparing for the role. Someone introduced me to a journalist, who taught me the basic nuances of a newsreader, like how one should look into the camera and read notes at the same time, voice modulation, body posture among others.

Stepping stone

I was born in Jhansi, but studied at various places, as my father had a transferable job. He worked as a doctor with the central government. I completed my MBA in Indore and had a decent job in Pune, and was doing pretty well for myself. Somehow, I realised that things are not going the right way. I wanted to utilise my potential and thats when I decided to give acting a try. Many people told me that giving up a good job is a foolish thing to do, but I simply followed my heart. When I came to Mumbai, I gave a few auditions and I was approached by a popular publishing house who wanted to feature me under their fresh face section. After that, I started getting a lot of commercials for brands like Rasna, Aircel, Blackberry, Haier home appliances among others.

First shot

Most of my portions were shot at the Headlines Today and Aaj Tak office in Delhi. For my first scene, I had to read out an important piece of news. Somehow, I managed to finish the scene in just one take. Everyone on the sets were amazed, and wondered whether I was really a debutante. The cinematographer of the film asked me if I had worked as a journalist before. Although I was a little confident on the first day of shoot, this incident came as a big boost.

Stumbling blocks

Although everything went off smoothly, the only problem I personally faced were the night shifts. All the newsroom portions were shot in the night as the footfall in the studios were lesser then. I am a morning person, and night shifts came as a big blow. But after a week, I got accustomed to it.

The takeaway

The experience of working on this film has given me a lot of confidence. Earlier, I used to feel a little out of place as I wasnt trained. But after this film, I can proudly say that I am slowly finding a foothold.

Role model

I look up to Irrfan, because he is one of the few versatile actors that we have in the industry today. He is simply fantastic.

Future projects

Right now, I have been roped by Zee network for a travel show which will focus on the culture and tradition of India. I am also in talks with a few film-makers and hopefully, something should work out soon.