Q. You have always been an inspirational figure for women. What has kept you motivated through all these years?
A. There is no motivation as such. I am not trying to be a certain way. Life, and going with the flow, have taken me into a certain direction. It all started almost 20 years ago when I was a part of a TV show called Shanti: Ek Aurat Ki Kahani. In this my character, Shanti, was quite bold and strong. It was the start of my career in entertainment and now it’s been quite a journey. Then there were different avatars that I had to take on to become who I am today. The cricket field also made me a bold person as I was the only woman host at that time. I believe that one should not take things too seriously, especially when you are in the business of entertainment, because it is all fine when the time is good but when the circumstances turn bad it really affects you and gets you into a depressing state.
Q. Juggling between work commitments and your daily duties as a mother, how do you manage to follow your fitness regime?
A. I started paying more attention towards my fitness when I did a fitness based reality show Khatron Ke Khiladi, which made me aware of the fact that I want to be fit and strong for that. Until then I would exercise only twice or thrice a week and never took it seriously. And then I fractured my foot, but I never stopped and kept on doing upper body exercises. I became pregnant after that and gained a lot of weight but I thought to myself, “I took nine months to gain it and I will take six months to lose it”, and I did. I am in my 40s right now and I am the fittest and the strongest than I have ever been. I usually work out for one or one-and-a-half hour daily. If not that, everyone should at least take out 45 minutes to exercise daily. Even after dropping my kid to the school, I get plenty of time to work out while he is at school. So, I always make time, no matter what.
Q. You are an amazing actress, anchor, fashion designer and a fitness idol to many. What do you enjoy doing the most?
A. What I enjoy the most is exercising. Exercise is my happy place and it makes me mentally and emotionally better and stable, and not just physically. I work out five days a week and I like to mix it up sometimes. I prefer running sometimes or I would just go for functional training. Sometimes it’s weight-lifting for me. So, it’s a mix of all.
Q. You were in 24, the Hindi adaptation of the American TV series, and your character, Nikita Rai, became quite popular. How was the whole experience?
A. I loved it. We all watch American shows on different online portals these days. Earlier, we used to binge watch shows and the first show that I ever binged watched was 24. At that time, I literally thought that if I was ever offered to play a character on this show I would definitely play Nina Myers [on which Nikita Rai was based]. And it was the same character that I played. It was one of the most amazing characters that I ever saw on American television and I just could not believe that I was actually given the chance to play that.
Q. It’s been a long journey in show business for you. How do you deal with failures and criticism?
A.There is much more to learn from failure than from success. When I look at the shows or events, I probably don’t remember the ones that went well but I definitely remember the ones that I failed at. My first week as a presenter in cricket was an utter failure. I think that one week taught me more than a lot of years put together. Because when you fail, you hit rock bottom and from there you only rise up. At that time I was that person who wanted to keep everyone happy and who wanted that everyone should like me. That phase taught me that everyone doesn’t have to like you and it’s alright. Performing live taught me that you should always live in the moment. When you are live in front of the camera you cannot think of something messed up that happened five minutes ago or something that you have to do in the next one hour. I feel that when you believe in good, good gets better.
“My first week as a presenter in cricket was an utter failure. I think that one week taught me more than a lot of years put together. Because when you fail, you hit rock bottom and from there you only rise up.”
Q. What advice would you give to youngsters who look up to you as a fitness idol?
A. People say that they don’t have time and I always tell people to start their fitness journey with small goals. Start by walking. Start with the basic. Add a few minutes of jogging at the end of your walk. My only advice: start small, start easy, give yourself goals and then build up.
Q. Which role has been the most challenging one for you till now?
A. I think that Shanti was the most challenging role for me as it was my first role ever in the entertainment industry. Back then, I was not even comfortable with Hindi because I came from a primarily English-speaking family which had nothing to do with the entertainment industry. So that was the hardest thing for me and I am not saying I’ve learned a lot. But whatever I know, I have learned from Shanti.
Q. Which achievement of yours are you most proud of?
A. I think my best achievement is to bring my son on earth. Every day, when I look at him I feel that this is the best thing that I have ever done.
Q. Coming to your acting career, what are the factors based on which you sign a film?
A. To begin with, I look at the role that I am given. Whenever I go through the script, I think to myself whether my character will or will not make a difference if it was not in the film. Then I come to the producer— it should not be a person that I’ve never heard of. And at last I turn to the cast, as you would want to know who will you be working with. So, these are my criteria, exactly in that order.
Q. You were a part of IRT: Deadliest Roads, a travel-based reality show. What was the best destination that you went to for that show? Also, what according to you is the best part about travelling?
A. It was quite challenging. We went on very treacherous roads which were dangerous and we went in a proper goods-carrying truck. We encountered many dangerous situations. I think Pangong Tso Lake was the best destination that I went to during that show. It is a beautiful lake that touches the borders of China and India. The thing that I like about travelling is experiencing new things, different cultures and making memories.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
A. There are a couple of films that I am doing right now. The Tamil film that is coming out soon is called Adangathey and the Hindi film is called Vodka Diaries. I have started shooting for Saaho. And I have a web series which is yet to release, Smoke. Good projects are coming my way. There was a time when people used to tell me, ‘Don’t cut your hair, you won’t get work.’ Because for the entertainment industry you have to have long hair. But I think my short hair is getting me work.