Why is it that we haven’t seen you on television for a while?
I tend to take these breaks. Even after Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (KSBKBT) got over I took a year off, just to travel and spend time with my friends, family and do things that we bonded labourers don’t get to do while on a show (laughs). I love travelling, and I do quite a bit of it, especially when I have the time off.
What made you take up Beintehaa?
I found the role interesting because I’ve played a mother before, but this had a slight Muslim influence in terms of the culture, writing and all of that. There’s a lot of tehzeeb, which I thought I’d be able to do well. Besides, I had never worked with (the channel) Colors before, so that was another incentive.
How does it feel when people still remember you for your old shows?
The audience never forgets. They always remember and identify you with the characters you play on television. It’s a nice feeling when they come and tell me how much they loved me as Niki in my first show, Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar. While they don’t remember my role in Ram Milayi Jodi, they still remember me as Damini in KSBKBT, which lasted for eight years. Considering there are so many faces and serials on television that if they still remember your work, it definitely feels good.
Since playing a character on television can go on for years, do you find yourself behaving like the characters sometime?
I have never really behaved like any of my characters, but two of the characters that I have played are really close to me — Niki Sharma from Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar and Damini from KSBKBT. Kyunki…was literally like home away from home, and it went on for eight years. Shabana from Beintehaa will also stay with me as it’s a Muslim character which I’ve never done before.
Since Beintehaa is set in a Muslim milieu, how did you prep up for it?
Being born and bred in Mumbai, I’m quite urban in a lot of ways. I don’t come across as rural and rustic. I had to work on my body language, even in the way I sit or talk. So even if I say a word like ‘hotel’, it should reflect the character’s roots which is small-townish. So, hotel will be pronounced as ‘hotal’. I had to work on my diction. As a Punjabi, I have never used words like Assala walekum, Because I had to work on things like these, I found it even more interesting to enact the character of Shabana. It’s not very often that you get to prepare for characters. Thankfully, we have co-stars like Naved Aslam in the unit who are Muslim,who help to get the nuances right.
With Beintehaa currently on air, are you now open to being a part of some other reality or fiction show?
I’ve never planned my life like that, but I’m really open to some good work. There was a time in my life where I did back-to-back shows. Like when Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar was almost ending, I’d taken on KSBKBT and other things. Since Beintehaa is in its initial days, it’s taking a lot of my time now. But when time permits, I’d love to take up another show, or do something interesting even in terms of a reality show.