The Girl Who Caught Bollywood’s Eye

‘The fact that I got noticed in a film that stars Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone is a big high for me.’

Photograph: Kind courtesy Sanjeeda Sheikh/Instagram

Her first film saw her in just a just blink-and-miss appearance but she got to share the frame with Amitabh Bachchan!

“I just could not say no because it was a scene with THE Amitabh Bachchan,” recalls Sanjeeda Sheikh, whose journey from Ahmedabad to Bollywood began in 2003.

“I was a dance instructor to (Baghban Director) Ravi Chopraji‘s wife, Renu aunty,” Sanjeeda remembers.

“One day, he saw me dancing and told me that I need to report to shoot a song of Baghban. Without realising, I became a part of the film world.”

Sanjeeda, however, does not feature in the film.

“My scene got edited,” she sighs.

“I was one of the background dancers in the song, Chali Chali Ishq Ki Hawa Chali song in Baghban. My career started from there, but very few people know this,” she says.

Was it difficult to switch to acting from dancing?

“Yes. I was not a trained actress. But now, I have learnt the skills and can emote well,” she says.

In fact, her co-star in Fighter, Hrithik Roshan, endorsed her acting skills on X.


IMAGE: Sanjeeda Sheikh with Hrithik Roshan in Fighter. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sanjeeda Sheikh/Instagram

In Fighter, Sanjeeda plays Saanchi Gill, whose armyman husband (played by Karan Singh Grover) gets captured by the Pakistan army.

“The fact that I got noticed in a film that stars Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone is a big high for me,” Sanjeeda says.

Her emotional performance in one of the pivotal scenes had the incomparable Shabana Azmi raving about her!

Sanjeeda can cry at will, and she shows us how in this video.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Sanjeeda Sheikh/Instagram

But it was not films but television that gave Sanjeeda a break.

After Baghban, she bagged roles in popular serials like Kayamath, Nach Baliye 3, Nach Baliye 4, Ek Hasina Thi, Nagin 3 and Kumkum Bhagya.

“My television journey was great. It was not that I was away from films but the film world was away from me,” she says.

“I feel everything has a right time and as an actress, this is my right time. After Fighter, I am doing Heera Mandi with Sanjay Leela Bhansali.”

The period Web series also stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari and Richa Chadha, and will stream on Netflix.

“I was to work with Sanjay sir in Saraswati Chandra, but it did not work out. I am lucky to be one of his leading ladies in Heera Mandi. After working with him, I proudly say I am ‘Bhansalified’,” says Sanjeeda.

Bhansali is known for being a hard task-master and Sanjeeda says, “Sanjay sir gives respect to everyone on the sets, be it the art director, the actors or even the junior artists. Everyone is respected if you are good in your job. Sanjay sir is a magician, a perfectionist. He makes things that no one else does.”


Photograph: Kind courtesy Sanjeeda Sheikh/Instagram

Why hasn’t she starred in Gujarati films, since she hails from Ahmedabad and has tried her hand at other regional cinema?

“No good Gujarati film was offered to me,” Sanjeeda says, after some thought.

Just what does Sanjeeda love about Ahmedabad? She tells us here.


Photograph: Kind courtesy Sanjeeda Sheikh/Instagram

Has Sanjeeda ever encountered the bad side of Bollywood?

“No,” she says emphatically. “Everyone in this industry has been very good to me. I can never say that mere saath yeh hua tha ya vo hua tha. Nothing of the sort happened. On television too, I worked hard and people appreciated it.”

What does she expect from life?

“If life gives you everything, you will always feel that you have not got something. But I am very content with what I have. I am not a planner. I take things as it comes, be it success or failure,” she says.

“Failure is the most natural process of life. To come out of failure and become the person you are is the biggest achievement of your life.”

Has she ever faced a sense of depression that follows with failure?

“No, not at all,” Sanjeeda answers. “It is because I am surrounded by great people, great energy. They are the people who empower me and support me in whatever I do. I am in a very happy and beautiful space in my life.”