Urvashi Dholakia believes she was destined to be an actor. Today, her name might remind us of the unforgettable characters she’s played on screen, but Urvashi rarely goes back to watch her performances.
While many believe Urvashi’s acting debut was 1993 hit Doordarshan show Dekh Bhai Dekh, the actor has another story to tell. She considers Dekh Bhai Dekh her first commercial show, as her work as a child artist cannot be ignored.
So how did it all begin for Urvashi Dholakia? Here’s what the actor shared:
1. What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?
It was around 1986. I was a child. My mom used to send my pictures to every production house. That’s how they called me. Those days, sometimes there were no auditions also. They used to just see you because you were a baby.
So, I got selected for this TV show called Shrikant. Praveen Nischol, Navin Nischol’s brother, was the director, and Bimal Roy’s daughter was the controller of the look of the show. My mother took me there. I was basically selected on the basis of the length of my hair because I had long hair. The show was based on a novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya. It was about how Raj Lakshmi (Sujata Mehta) nurses Shrikant (Farooq Sheikh) during a plague. I was playing Raj Lakshmi’s younger version. The show had a huge star cast – Irrfan Khan, Mrinal Kulkarni, Rita Bhaduri, Tiku Talsania, AK Hangal and Ajit Vachani. So, to be a part of a show with such stalwarts was a blessing.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
My first day of shooting was somewhere in Madh Island. That time it was a forest area. The set up was that of the 19th century when girls were not allowed to go to schools. So there was a school set up with all the boys going there. I remember there used to be karonde (type of berries) which I plucked and ate. They used to treat me like their daughter; I was so pampered. I refused to go on set if they did not give me mangoes. So, they used to bribe me. The atmosphere which we worked in was very homely.
I was supposed to be there for one episode. But Praveen ji took such a liking towards me and my performance, that he extended it to a couple of more episodes. We were not ready for that because I had school. And in those days, acting was quite a taboo, not everybody appreciated it. Ultimately, I was a part of at least eight episodes.
3. Were you nervous?
I started acting when I was six. Considering I’ve always been a director’s actor, whatever I was asked to do, I did. Acting came very naturally to me. I never went through any manager or agency. So, I was comfortable.
4. How was the rapport with your co-stars?
Considering it was a childhood part, so the kids who were playing the childhood characters of the entire cast were my co-stars. Doordarshan was the only running channel that time. Working with already established names at that time and then not having an ounce of nervousness, was something that makes me feel lucky.
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
Since it was a Bengal based show, we had to wear a nose ring in the middle of the nose throughout. I used to get so irritated with that. Also, because I always suffered from cold, so that bothered me. I used to quickly remove the nose ring the moment my shot got over. But the makers were really patient with me because sometimes the shot used to get cut in the middle as I couldn’t take it forward wearing the nose ring.
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
When I did Tejasvini, it made me realise that acting is not a piece of cake. My favourite actor has been Rekha. It started from Mr Natwarlal. Whenever she came on TV, I used to call her ‘Rekha mummy’. I remember writing a letter to her, which I never posted. My admiration for her was at another level.
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