The grandniece of legendary actor Dilip Kumar may be just a few films old but has the maturity and poise of a seasoned actress. Here, Sayyeshaa talks about the strong bond she shares with her mother.
By Pranita Jonnalagedda
Her dance moves are the talk of the town. Elegant and effervescent, Sayyeshaa is slowly and surely treading the path to success in the Indian film industry. The 21-year-old actress is the grandniece of India’s legendary actor Dilip Kumar and his wife, actress Saira Banu. A known face in the South Indian film industry, Sayyeshaa made her acting debut with the Telugu film Akhil. She went on to star in Ajay Devgn’s film Shivaay, which marked her foray into Hindi cinema.
In an exclusive interview with ParentCircle, Sayyeshaa talks about her love for dance and the important role her mother has played in her life and career.
“Being an actress is a lot of work. I am not talking about what happens in front of the camera alone! There’s so much to deal with behind the camera, and if not for my mother, life wouldn’t have been easy. She manages my staff and is always making sure what I need is available on time. Shooting schedules can be stressful and drain you but having her around relaxes me. I love her presence because it’s soothing and calming,” says Sayyeshaa.
The daughter of actors Sumeet Saigal and Shaheen Banu, Sayyeshaa completed her schooling from École Mondiale World School, Mumbai. She emphasises that her mother is the most important person in her life. 'My pillar of strength', 'my reason for existence' and 'the light of my life', are just a few of the expressions she uses to describe her mother.
“I know it sounds cliched, but my mother is definitely the most important person in my life. I can’t do without her for even a single day! She’s my manager, PR, costume stylist, my agony aunt, my best friend and of course, my support system,” says Sayyeshaa, speaking over the phone during the promotional spree for her recent Tamil release, Kadaikutty Singam.
Sayyeshaa’s journey into the artistic world began when she was just a little child with a passion for dance. And she gives her mother all credit for helping hone her skills in the craft.
“Growing up, I had around 10 trainers to teach me dance. My mother spent a great deal of time selecting the best teachers because she knew how passionate I was about dance. It is because of her encouragement that I have been able to learn and explore various dance forms,” Sayyeshaa reveals.
Having started off with Latin American dance styles in London where she grew up, Sayyeshaa then went to South Africa and Brazil with her mother, to learn the dance forms in greater depth.
Eventually, Sayyeshaa’s interest made her explore Odissi, Kathak, belly dancing and hip-hop. “I remember there would be days when my dance classes would go on for around six hours and my mom would be there watching me. She was around to make sure I didn’t need anything,” she states with an air of affection and pride in her voice.
Apart from managing her daughter’s work, Shaheen is also her daughter's PR and costume stylist. Elaborating on this, the actress shares, “Well, she’s been dressing me up since I was a kid and no one else can understand what works for me like she does! I have worked with other stylists, and I won’t deny that I have liked their styling, but I love working with my mother.”
Sayyeshaa continues, “She doesn’t style me for profit, she just wants to make me look as good as possible. A stylist would try to stay within a budget and maybe, compromise on quality in order to do that. On the other hand, there are times when my mother has put in her money to ensure I look perfect, even if a production house will not go that far for me. She uses jewellery from our personal collection and the best materials, to get my look right. Will I find a better stylist elsewhere?”
On a parting note, she reflects on what she gives back to the mother who means the world to her. “She does so much for me, just like any mother would. It’s amazing how much she gives without expecting anything in return. And even though I try to pamper her and shower her with love, I don’t think I can ever do enough. Nothing will match up to what she has done for me, and I know that how much ever I try, I’ll never be able to make up to her level. But truth be told, I know she doesn’t even want anything!” she signs off.
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