The actor, who graduated from Jai Hind college, Mumbai, talks about her experience filming the song as part of her music video debut 20 years ago. She recently recreated the video as a tribute to mark its anniversary
Every once in a while, one is overcome by nostalgia. Reminiscing about a time gone by through music, film and fashion can be a pleasant way to spend an evening. The classic song, ‘Piya Basanti’, recently completed 20 years. Actor Nauheed Cyrusi, who had debuted with the music video, recreated it as a tribute and posted it to her Instagram page last week.
Cyrusi had featured in the original music video, directed by Pradeep Sarkar, along with Donovan Wodehouse. The song was sung by Ustad Sultan Khan and KS Chithra and composed by Sandesh Shandilya.
For the recreation, Cyrusi collaborated with filmmaker Rahul Singh Datta, singer Mallika and music producer Kabeer Kathpalia. “‘Piya Basanti’ changed my life entirely,” says Cyrusi. “When it turned 20, I knew I wanted to do something.” She connected with Datta on social media and was impressed with his work. “It just seemed apt – and it was perfect timing,” she says.
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Taking a trip down memory lane, Cyrusi reminisces about the original music video, which was shot in Kotgarh village in Himachal Pradesh. The place mostly had apple orchards – and hardly any hotels. “The women (in the cast and crew) stayed in churches and the men were accommodated in homestays,” she says. The weather was cold and rainy, but Cyrusi says the cast and crew still had a lot of fun shooting.
Cyrusi is all praise for Sarkar. “He had a very clear vision,” she says. The actor met Sarkar while working on a few advertisements, before she featured in her debut video. And, that’s when Sarkar, whom Cyrusi refers to as her mentor, thought she was perfect for the song.
Even though that video presented her with a flurry of acting opportunities, Cyrusi says she knew she had to complete her studies first. A graduate of Mumbai’s Jai Hind College, she credits her humble upbringing for keeping her grounded amidst all the attention she received at the time.
“Even today, people recognise me from the song, but I am just a regular girl who happened to do the ‘Piya Basanti’ video,” she says.
She got many film offers, but Cyrusi says she was selective about the projects she chose. “The kind of movies that were being made earlier never resonated with me,” says the actor who has been a part of films such as ‘Kurbaan’ and ‘Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi’. She adds that she was clear she would not be a part of any project “just to be in the limelight”.
In 2017, Cyrusi and her husband Rustom moved to Singapore. However, after she returned to Mumbai about two years ago, she says she noticed a big shift in the quality of content with the advent of social media and OTT platforms.
“There’s more variety and more opportunities now,” she says, adding that this has also been a boon for many women actors in the industry, who earlier hardly ever got a script with a powerful female character to play. “This is the best time to be in the industry,” says Cyrusi, who made her OTT debut with the web series ‘Dev DD 2’.
Right now, the actor is waiting to see how people react to the series, but says her goal remains to work with good directors and creative people who make great content.