Known for her portrayal as Geet and Madhubala, Drashti Dhami wants to break the internet as Khanzada in The Empire. The popular television actor made her digital debut with the Disney Plus Hotstar show which premiered on Friday. The eight-episode magnum opus also stars Kunal Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Dino Morea in the lead roles.
Excited to be back on screen, the actor shared that while it wasn’t a forced break for her, she was waiting for something exciting. “I will be honest. I wasn’t showered with a lot of calls but there were some things, which I said no and some that did not work out. I am thankful as it worked in my favour, and I could get The Empire. I don’t think I could have asked for anything better,” Drashti told indianexpress.com.
The actor also shared that she did not audition but was called for the part. After meeting creator Nikhil Advani and director Mitakshara Kumar, followed by a few look tests, the actor was instantly on board. Given Drashti has never done a historical and mythology on television, we wondered how they saw Khanzada in her. “I guess they had an eye,” she said with a big smile.
Giving more details about her character, Drashti Dhami said that Khanzada is strong, fierce and yet is very emotional. Sharing that she hasn’t played a character like this before, she said, “She is the sister of Babar and can do anything to keep her family together and protect them. Without a blink, she can sacrifice anything. We have all studied and heard tales of our kings, but no one ever spoke about the princess and queen and how they helped build an empire. They worked hard to become the kingmaker and helped them in making decisions. I really enjoyed playing this part and I hope the world can now see me in a different light.”
The Empire features an ensemble cast, but for the actor, it’s never about the length of the role rather the performance that matters. She also added that she was on the lookout to do something different, and the web series offered her exactly the same.
Talking about working with Shabana Azmi, Drashti shared how she initially felt that the senior actor has a ‘strict teacher personality’. “I was initially very nervous, and more than me, I think my family was excited about me working with her. I remember the first day, my mom, mum-in-law called me asking about Shabana ji and I was like let me finish my shoot first. As I entered the set, she greeted me with so much love and started talking casually about her day. She was so cool and never made me feel like I was shooting with such a legendary actor. She was also so helpful and would point out if I went wrong with my diction, or suggest another take if she felt I could do better. It was just an honour.”
“As for Kunal, I learnt a very important quality from him and that is how to get into your character. He was so prepared and completely in his zone when I met him. The set too was so intense, larger than life, and so disciplined, a very new experience for me completely. I couldn’t visualise him as Kunal and looked at him as Babar. It was a tad overwhelming for me. However, once we broke the ice, we became warm friends,” shared Drashti. She also added that through the project, she has learnt a lot more about acting and how one should work on themselves.
Now that she has experienced the new medium, will she be okay moving back to television? “Of course, it’s my home. TV has given me everything, and it’s something close to my heart. As an actor, I am here to do good work, in whichever form and medium it comes. I can never say no to it, as that’s where my roots belong. I am here because of television and it has given me the love of my fans,” she replied.
Sounding emotional talking about millions who love her unconditionally, Drashti Dhami added, “I feel so blessed to have them in my life. I haven’t met most of them and they stand by you through your ups and downs. The response and love the trailer has received make me thank God for giving me these amazing fans.”
The Empire is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.