Exclusive: Alaya F On Her First Solo Lead ‘U-Turn’, Challenges After The Pandemic, Her Love For Dance & More

New Delhi: After a memorable start to 2020, Alaya F has stepped into the industry as one of the most promising debutants of her time. However, her career was suddenly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused her to take a break of 2 years and 11 months, which she calls ‘every budding actor’s nightmare’. In 2023, she is back in back to back films and is now all set to treat us with her first solo lead ‘U-Turn’.

Directed by Arif Khan, ‘U-Turn’ traces the journey of Radhika, a journalist played by Alaya F, who is investigating the deaths of people on an under-construction flyover. What follows is a series of police investigations, horrors and murders in which Radhika becomes a prime suspect. How she solves the mystery behind the death along with police officer Arjun Bakshi (Priyanshu Painyuli) forms the crux of the story. In an exclusive interview with Zee English Digital, Alaya F talks about her excitement to play a solo role in ‘U-Turn’, the innovation in the film’s script and how she overcame her fear of dancing.

Q- ‘U-Turn’ is your first film as a solo lead, so how excited or nervous are you about it?

Alaya F- To be honest, I am very excited about it and I am looking forward to watching it on 28th April. It is a very tight film and serves its purpose as a thriller so I think it will really connect with the audience. These days, content is king and though it is a solo lead, I feel the script is also another lead with me.

Q – ‘U-Turn’ is a remake of the Tamil film of the same name, starring the brilliant Samantha Ruth Prabhu in the lead. So there is always a comparison between the two when the films are remade. How do you deal with and maintain that pressure?

Alaya F- Our film is an adaptation, not a remake, so it has a lot of twists and turns, very different from the Tamil film in terms of ending and has all the unexpected elements of a thriller. No matter which version someone has seen or not, it’s still going to be very refreshing for them. Even if you’ve seen either version, you’re in for a big surprise. For comparison, I just try to give my best. If it works it works, if it doesn’t you learn and grow.

Q – Since this is a supernatural thriller, have you ever encountered any scary incidents, or do you believe in ghosts?

Alaya F- Yes, I believe in ghosts and there have been a lot of scary incidents in my life. When I was living in New York, my apartment was haunted because we could hear footsteps from the top floor but then I realized it wasn’t coming from there. But because of the lease agreement, I had to spend six more months in that apartment after I found out, so I was stuck with the ghost for another six months. We had to face some scary incidents during the shooting of the film as well. Towards the climax of the film, we were shooting in an abandoned medical college and a lot of creepy things would happen to the crew. So yeah, I’m a complete believer.

Why- Your first film Jawaani Jaaneman released in 2020 and just after that everything took a break of 2 years due to Covid. And we can say that, now is the time when the audience is watching more of you. So did you feel any pressure of performance or expectations while in front of the camera or doing films after a long gap?

Alaya F- There was a long gap of 2 years and 11 months between my first and second film which is a nightmare for every debutant. The fear of performing is always there and it keeps you a little scared. In fact, I dread what would happen if I woke up one day and forgot how to act. But after the first few scenes I froze, because I love my work very much. So after that the fear does not last long.

Watch video interview here

Q – You are also fond of dancing. So does this help you improve your acting?

Alaya F- Actually I am scared to dance. That’s why you will find me dancing. I thought I could never become a Hindi film actor because I just can’t dance. Then my dance teacher taught me the basic fundamentals of dance like spreading hands. There is a saying in my life that ‘if I can learn to dance, I can do anything’. Acting comes more naturally to me than dancing. So dance has taught me a lot of discipline in life so it is very special to me.

Q- Your acting skills have been appreciated in your previous films. So important ratings or commercial success, what is more important to you?

Alaya F- I want both. But I don’t think you can have lasting commercial success without critical acclaim. You may get momentary commercial success but in the long run you need critical acclaim along with commercial success to survive in the industry.

Q- Any actor you would really like to work with in the industry right now?

Alaya F (in an excited voice)- Two people I really want to work with are Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan. I love their energy and how they are out there all the time. So I would love to work with him.

U-Turn starring Alaya F, Priyanshu Painyuli, Aashim Gulati, Rajesh Sharma in lead roles will release on ZEE5 on 28 April 2023. It is produced by Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor under Balaji Telefilms.