EXCLUSIVE: Jungle Cry's Emily Shah on assisting Clint Eastwood at 18, Bollywood fandom and more
In an exclusive interview with Pinkvilla, Jungle Cry's Emily Shah spoke about her role in the film, working with Abhay Deol and more.
American actress Emily Shah is all set for her Bollywood debut alongside Abhay Deol in Sagar Ballary's Jungle Cry. The actress boasts of a strong background in the entertainment industry having assisted veteran Clint Eastwood in the past. After her debut film, Fortune Defies Death, directed by Jennifer Hulum, Shah has now set her eyes on Bollywood.
In an exclusive interview with Pinkvilla, the New Jersey-born actress opened up about her experience of working on her first Bollywood film, her early days in the industry and also her experience of working alongside Abhay Deol. Jungle Cry revolves around a true story that follows the journey of 12 underprivileged children from Orissa who went on to win the prestigious U14 Rugby World Cup in England. While Abhay will be seen playing coach Rudraksh Jena, Emily stars as Roshni Thakkar, a physiotherapist for Rugby players in the film.
When asked about why she was excited to take on the role of Roshni, Emily who initially came on board as an executive producer for the film admitted that it lacked a female essence at the start and said, "When I read the script, I noticed that there wasn't a single female character in the entire film." She further added how initially the film felt a little too "testosterone-heavy" and hence the script was reworked to add more female characters including Roshni as a sports physiotherapist.
As Shah stars in her first Bollywood film, she also looked back at the industry's impact on her while growing up in the west as she said, "I was always involved in my Indian traditions and culture and Bollywood, obviously being a part of that. I grew up with that whole generation of Rani Mukerji and Hrithik [Roshan] and Aishwarya [Rai Bachchan], so that was my ultimate star fandom and of course, now to this day I still love them and would love to work with them."
Speaking about her Jungle Cry co-star Abhay Deol who has also made a big name for himself in Bollywood, she added, "He's such a respected actor and he made me feel comfortable on set, in the sense of working with me on rehearsals and being at my disposal whenever I needed advice. He was a dream to work with and I'd work with him again in a heartbeat."
Interestingly, Shah's career in Hollywood began at an early age as she began assisting veteran film director Clint Eastwood at the age of 18 during the time that he was shooting Jersey Boys. Emily said, "Working with Mr Eastwood is any actor's dream. He's such a legend in the whole world. So, when I was able to work with him I was just 18 years old and at that time I just graduated high school so I didn't realise how big of an impact he would have on me."
Adding on about how her experience of assisting him helped her while working on Jungle Cry, she said, "I shadowed him and learned a lot and he would take the time out of his day to come over and talk to me and give me advice, guide me through this industry, tell me funny stories that he's experienced but I do remember one thing he did teach me on set and I did take it with me to Jungle Cry. He explained to me when he used to work on his westerns back in the day and he would direct or act in them, anytime somebody would yell action the horses would go crazy and he said, 'If that happens to the horse's brain, imagine what happens to the human mind.'" The actress further revealed how Eastwood then strayed away from yelling "action" on set and yet managed to run the set consisting of hundreds of extras on set.
Emily Shah and Abhay Deol's Jungle Cry also stars Atul Kumar, Stewart Wright and Julian Lewis Jones in supporting roles. The film is all set to release on May 20.