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By: R. M. VijayaKar, special to India West

MUMBAI — She is the daughter of ‘90s actors Sumeet Saigal and Shaheen, the latter being Saira Banu’s niece. Sayyeshaa Saigal was chosen by Ajay Devgn (“after a six-hour audition on my 17th birthday in which I enacted two sequences — an emotional and a happy sequence, and was filmed by our DOP Aseem Bajaj!” she says) to play one of the leads in “Shivaay.”

In a rapid but candid interview with India-West, she speaks about herself and her career. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: You have chosen as your debut a film in which there is a foreigner cast romantically with Ajay. Do you think it’s the right choice for a debut?

A: I do not think anyone will compare me with Erika Karr, who’s the other leading lady. People ask me if I am romantically cast with Ajay-sir at all, but, for that, they have to wait and watch the film! My role is acting-oriented and is about a young Indian girl who stands on her own feet, knows exactly what she wants, and is working in Bulgaria. She supports Ajay in his troubles.

Q: But you have done a Tamil and a Telugu film before.

A: Yes, but my first signed film was “Shivaay.” Ajay-sir very kindly allowed me to do the other films, as the offers came to me when our film was delayed for a year. I did them, because they were decent scripts, and I could get experience with the camera.

Q: After this, will you do South Indian films or continue only with Hindi movies?

A: I would like to do all films at the moment. Like all newcomers, I want to be seen and accepted, so I selfishly want “Shivaay” to be a bigger hit than the other release, though I will watch that film too. Right now, I am too young and not in a position to choose any film or filmmakers. The filmmakers will choose me!

Q: Which filmmakers and stars are on your wish list? Or those you admire most?

A: I want to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rajkumar Hirani, Imtiaz Ali, Mani Ratnam. Among heroes, I love Salman Khan and would like to romance him in a forthcoming film. Among actresses, my idol isMeryl Streep.

Q: What genres attract you most as a viewer?

A: I love romantic comedies, romances and dance musicals the most. But I watch most films that release.

Q: Would you be willing to do a small and decorative role in a film with a big name like with two songs and a few scenes?

A: Why not? If the role has a certain importance, it does not matter even if it isn’t long. I should be noticed.

Q: How was Ajay Devgn as a co-star and as a director?

A: As an actor, he’s completely effortless, after all the experience he has. As a director, he’s very meticulous and planned in his approach. When he was not in a shot, he would be operating one of the cameras himself. And he made me so comfortable — not once did he behave like a big star.

Q: Did you always want to act?

A: Yeah, since I can remember! I focused only on acting as a career. I also started training in dance from the age of nine. Right now, I am probably the most career-focused person you can find on this planet! My mother just did a few films and was happy being a mother and a housewife. But I want to go very far.

Q: She even composed music for “Phool Aur Aag” in 1999. Do you have any musical inclinations?

A: (Laughs) Oooh! How did you know that? Yes, I have trained in music and have been singing since I was five! But right now, there is no plan to sing in the movies.

This story was originally published on India West.