Yami Gautam Dhar said something interesting in one of her pre-release interviews for Lost. Of the 15-20 scripts she has read since finishing her last film, she revealed, she has not signed any. This felt unusual. In the wake of the pandemic, actors went scrambling for work (Rajkummar Rao told this writer he’s done a couple of films he isn’t particularly proud of). Yami, too, was working relentlessly— Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga, Dhoom Dhaam and OMG 2 are her forthcoming releases—but she is finally holding out for the next one.
“There is something I have shortlisted but I can’t sign it until I am very sure of the script,” she tells. Her reasoning is consistent; as an actor, she is finally in a position to not settle for half-measures. Still, it feels audacious, especially since Yami hasn’t had a theatrical release in years— Ginny Weds Sunny, Bhoot Police, Dasvi, A Thursday and Lost all released digitally. Her last big-screen outings were 2019’s Uri: A Surgical Strike and Bala, two films that, by her own assessment, flipped the audience perception around her, a credibility that Yami would now like to retain. “These films gave me my voice back, in a lost and found way,” she says. “The little trust that the audience has started to develop in me, I really want to maintain that.”
Lost, like A Thursday (2022), features Yami in the central role. Directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, it’s a Kahaani-esque thriller centred on a missing person’s case in Kolkata. Vidhi Sahani (Yami) is a crime journalist investigating the disappearance of a young theatre artist. Released on ZEE5 earlier this month, the film received middling reviews despite considerable praise going to Yami’s performance. She does get certain details right – the endless walking, for instance, or the nimble adaptability that marks a crime journo’s life. “I realised the whole idea of working in that beat is to be able to blend in,” she says. “You stand out with your thoughts and your courage but on the field your approach has to be so seamless as to make people comfortable around you.”
Lost is frequently enlivened by the scenes between Vidhi and her Gita-quoting grandpa, played by veteran actor Pankaj Kapur. In an investigative crime drama, it must have been something to have detective Karamchand (Pankaj’s finest TV hour) himself as her guiding angel. In fact, there are two sublime Karamchand references in Lost – one where he tells a couple of goons to drink ‘carrot juice’, another when he counsels Vidhi ‘karam kiye jaa’ (keep on with your duty). “A common trait I find in great actors like Pankaj sir is that they don’t take themselves too seriously,” Yami says. “I would add Pankaj Tripathi, whom I worked with in OMG 2, to the list.”
While she is happy with the reception of Lost (‘I make it a point to respond to fans who appreciate my work”), Yami is equally thrilled for Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga, a genre-leaping heist thriller set on a plane. It will be followed by Dhoom Dhaam, an action-comedy co-starring Pratik Gandhi and produced by her husband Aditya Dhar. Aditya, who made a blockbuster directorial debut with Uri, was prepping a futuristic superhero film called The Immortal Ashwatthama with Vicky Kaushal. The project was reportedly shelved due to budgetary issues. Yami, though, assures it is still very much on.
“It’s definitely on,” Yami says, “I am not the right person to divulge any further details. But, as his wife and also an actor and audience member, I can say it’s a film we will be very happy coming from Indian shores. Aditya has worked hard on his script. It’s definitely happening and you will hear about it soon.”