Indie singer Utsavi Jha, who plays Manoj Bajpayee’s daughter in Gulmohar, on how her music background helped her bag debut film
A still from the film
Acting was never in the scheme of things for Utsavi Jha, who plays Manoj Bajpayee’s younger daughter Amrita in Gulmohar. The singer-actor was the lifestyle editor of a popular tech-lifestyle magazine, before music tugged at her heart. “Singing happened to me midway through my first job. After leaving the job, I started my YouTube channel and released original music in 2020,” begins Jha. At the time, she had no idea that it would lead her to the world of acting.
In the Sharmila Tagore and Bajpayee-led family drama, Jha’s character is a budding singer. “My director Rahul Chittella wanted a singer-songwriter for the role. After I was approached, I went through almost five-six rounds of audition before they finalised me,” says Jha, who lent her voice to Woh ghar in the film.
While facing the camera was a challenge in itself for the debutant actor, playing a character from the LGBTQiA+ community was a bigger responsibility. “I was scared about not being able to do justice to the part. There was a fear of appearing inauthentic, or seeming preachy. I wanted my portrayal to be honest. I tried feeling every emotion that Amrita experienced, and empathised with her.”
Sharing screen space with Tagore has been a cherished experience for her. “On my first day of shooting with her, I told Sharmila ma’am that I was nervous about acting alongside her. She said, ‘We are all on the same level here, and collectively working towards [realising] the director’s vision. Treat me as your dadi and you’ll feel comfortable.’ She was such a warm presence.”