Q. Tell us about your role in the video of the recent song, “Gussa”. How was the experience shooting for it?
A. It was fun shooting for the song. It was not as if I was working the whole time. Everyone was supportive. During the shoots, since I have worked before as well, it was easy for me to be in front of the camera. On the other hand, I was guiding and giving tips to Dhillon [the singer] about how to look pale and emotional. This was a great experience for me. About the response to this song, I would say it has not sunk in that people are actually liking it and appreciating me for the work. This always happens to me. It was the same when my show Kaisi Yeh Yaariyan became a hit. I watched it and felt like: I was just doing my work, that’s it. It is good that people like it. My fans are good—they made sure that this song is a hit and I owe them all my success.
Q. Which factor influences you the most when it comes to signing for a show? Is it the role, the script or the cast?
A. It is always the storyline. I believe that an actor should do all genres and that is how you learn. That is how you become a better actor. Being repetitive bounds you to certain roles or genres, and there is no scope to improve. I am always up for an offbeat role because I think this is how I will explore, and one should never stop learning new things. That is the reason I played the role of Shivani in Ghulaam. I am not good at Hindi and Shivani was a typical rural girl. I like doing challenging roles.
Q. You’ve had a rollercoaster ride since you started your career in the entertainment industry. Tell us about the biggest challenges you have faced here.
A. Being an outsider and, more importantly, being a girl, I have faced many challenges up till now. Also, I think that no matter how many ups and downs you go through, no matter if your show is a hit or not—eventually, your life will be back to normal in no time. Patience is the only key here. I have been in situations where people called me ugly and made fun of my height, and this was not just at the starting of my career; even now, I hear these comments from people all the time. But I feel that maybe I don’t have the face that you would like but that’s their opinion and I cannot let those stupid comments shatter my confidence. It does affect you because sometimes when you are working with such co-actors, it becomes difficult. But my mom always says, “Ignore the comments, give your best to your work and go home”.
Another thing I would say about this industry from my experience is that everyone teaches you something or the other. Everyone will keep telling you what to do, how to do the scenes. Everyone wants to tell you what to do. Those free pieces of advice are never-ending. I feel like I am also an actor. I also know stuff. That is why I am an actor today. At least, give me some credit and freedom. I have a different face, I have a different expression and I will portray my role according to me. Everyone has their own style and everyone has the freedom to express that.
Q. Did you always want to be an actor?
A. Never. I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I was in Bombay for my college admission and I got this call saying that I have an audition and I was shortlisted for it by Balaji Telefilms. I was shocked, thinking it was a wrong number. I re-checked with the person, and he assured me that the call was for me. So, I always say that it was the wrong number that made my career.
Q. Do you fear the constant attention that comes with being a star?
A. Yeah, I do get attention but I do not like attention that much. Sometimes I just want to enjoy and be the girl I am. I am very weird. If someone comes up to me saying he or she is my fan, I actually feel shy. It’s like I don’t know how to react to that and after thanking the person I just walk away. I feel very shy in such situations. I have met people who start crying in front of me, saying they are my fan but I am like, why would anyone cry? That is so sweet but I myself do not know what to say, so I just hug the person and thank him or her.
Q. What do you consider your biggest strength as an actor?
A. My mom. Because every day is a challenge when I go to shoot, and she has always been there for me no matter what. She has been my moral support all along. She always makes every situation positive, no matter how troubled the circumstances are.
Q. Bold and adult content is not received very well in our society. What are your views on this?
A. Though everyone is trying to change and evolve, our society remains conservative. We cannot change everyone’s opinion and mindset. Things do change with time and let’s just accept it. We all see English films that have adult content, and that is normal for everyone. But I don’t understand why, when the same things are done by Indian actors it suddenly becomes wrong. I think everyone should accept it and even if you don’t, do not go out and make a scene because of it. Every actor gives his heart and soul when they do their work. That is our work and we will do it.
Q. Which do you prefer doing the most—web series or television shows?
A. I have done both web series (Kaisi Yeh Yaariyan) and television shows (Ghulaam, Gulaal and so on). I have to be practical, so I will say television. Because when it comes to a wider range of audience, television wins. On the other hand, for the youth, I would love to do more web series.