Fatima Sana Shaikh on navigating a complex character as she plays a woman seeking love outside her marriage in Ajeeb Daastaans.
Fatima Sana Shaikh
Though Shashank Khaitan’s short film in Ajeeb Daastaans falls short on the promise of understanding human relationships with all their flaws and frailties, its central character, Lipakshi, holds your attention. Played by Fatima Sana Shaikh, Lipakshi is at once vulnerable and cunning as she seeks affection outside her loveless marriage. The actor says she understood her character’s motivations even though she has little in common with her. “I don’t relate to Lipakshi. My parents have never pressured me to be with somebody or lead a certain life, so that’s not my world. But I understand her need for love. Everybody looks for attention in different ways, and does stupid things for their loved ones. I have also been a hopeless lover [at one point], so I understand her core emotions,” she states.
For Shaikh, the role—that sees her seduce Armaan Rehlan’s character even as her husband, played by Jaideep Ahlawat, threatens her with dire consequences—was well out of her comfort zone. “It was difficult to be as bold as Lipakshi. I am bold in my personal life with my choices and decisions. But I have never been comfortable with using my sexuality openly as I have been a tomboy all my life.”
Among other plot points, the Netflix film highlights how society unfairly judges women who are comfortable with their sexuality. Broach the subject with Shaikh, and she says, “I think in every era, there is a generation that makes a film where women’s sexuality is not judged; then suddenly, we become regressive and start judging again. We tend to believe that a woman is ‘too modern’ or ‘too forward’ if we see her smoking. We also tend to judge men—they are told they can’t cry. So, [in a way] you are telling men to desensitise themselves. I hope people become more accepting of one another.”