Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I’m an Army kid. My dad was in the armed forces so growing up I went to a ton of different army schools across India. I feel I was blessed to have the kind of childhood I did. I loved travelling, meeting new people, exploring new places, food, enjoyed having lots of friends, was very active in sports, I spent most of my time outdoors so my parents rarely saw me home. I would be out playing sports, reading for hours in the library or chilling at my friends.
And yet, I was always in the top three in my class ranks. I was a bright student and could get away by studying little. So I truly enjoyed those years of my life. Post schooling, I went to a hostel in Delhi to finish my graduation in DU. I passed my journalism honours with flying colors in college. And all along, I was very passionate about debates, extemporizes, drama, theatre, dance etc too. I was often the captain leading in these fields.
So once I graduated, I enjoyed my stint as a journalist for a while but I knew I wanted to be an actor/ anchor. And that being in front of the camera was my calling. Hence, I packed my bags and came to the dream city of Mumbai.
With no godfather or even a friend in this business, I started from scratch. I met a lot of people, some good, some bad, some really ugly (work ethics wise). It was a mixed bag. I grew up to be a tomboy so I had to work very hard on my grooming interns of looks, styling, makeup etc. I think I still am.
And of course, while I was auditioning for ad films and features, I took up Anchoring to have a steady income and yet get the exposure of the business. And did very well as an anchor making a mark for myself in the past few years. I did some very prestigious events like Vibrant GUjarat, star sports premier badminton league and today I am doing shows with ESPN. So that in. Itself has been very fulfilling work wise.
Back in college, I was with All india Radio, so I continued to do Voice overs as well as and when I got the opportunity. So basically, worked very hard in the initial years to find my niche, get to know people and understand how this industry works.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
Over the past few years I have also been able to explore my strengths and weaknesses and understand what I am good at and what needs work. So in that respect there has been tremendous growth. As an actor, I am striving to broaden my range. I often get type casted as a fun bubbly, girl next door kinda face so m trying to break that stereotype with my writing.
The first short film that I have written The door, helps me make a foray in that space as an actor. It also helped me understand how much I need to work upon my self as a writer but that I can actually write a full fledged script is a high.
So I am also writing two features as we speak. It’s a slow process but very engaging.
But I want to talk about the THE DOOR as it’s very important to me. Firstly it’s a subject that people shy away from talking about in a society that claims to be so forward looking today. So I felt in my own way , I had to contribute to bringing about a small change in the society. Or at least initiate it.
Secondly, it helped me overcome the barrier within my own mind that I could actually do three things simultaneously, act, write and produce. It was tough but totally worth it.
Besides, I feel I have spent enough time in the business to understand the kind of work I wish to do so my focus is only on expanding myself in that space. Currently I am working on two very interesting scripts feature films wise. Waiting for the announcements to happen. But having said that , I continue to work upon myself growing as a talent because I don’t see myself limit myself to just bollywood. At some point, I will further see myself scout for work in Hollywood too. Really big plans for myself but I constantly remind myself to be patient and be persistent.
It’s often that in this business, we are surrounded by a lot of opinions . It’s not easy to fight those and stand your ground but that’s one of my battles. And with my work, I honestly want to send a big message to all those who have in the past put me down. Like they say, work in silence and let your success make all the noise. That’s my mantra.
I don’t ever want to put myself in a box talent wise coz I think I could play a variety of roles , be good as a anchor too, yet write a script and maybe someday direct something aswell.
So I truly want to say that at no point, do I want to look back and have regrets about them things I wanted to do and I could have done. And yes facing challenges head on instead of running away from them have shown me how I can break those deadlocks in my life.
My first feature was Neerja with Sonam Kapoor and Shahana Azmi. It was a great learning experience . There is so much hard work that goes into making a film that looks good o nscreen.
And honestly, I also realised that there is so much you shoot, but very little of it finally makes to the big screen. That happened with my part. It was a big set back. And it did shook me up a little. But it went on to do really well as a film because it was made with so much sincerity, so it’s success was a guarantee.
Besides, Neerja I have been a part of several big print campaigns and tv commercials too. Pepperfry, Sanyo, fox traveller, Sbi , godrej etc.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Couple of things, maybe my looks. I do not look like a typical Bollywood heroine with curvy figure and stunning face. I am petite, curly hair, charming face and a big bunny smile. And neither do I come from a filmy family or have a godfather. So the opportunities get far and few.
But more than that, I feel I have taken a very long time to groom myself as an actor and realising that alone could be my weapon.
Yet I feel the times are changing. There are a variety of different scripts being written, there has been a digital boom so good things are now opening up the way.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
I have so many achievements that may not seem big to you but they are personally huge. But the one that I would like to talk about is my journey into becoming more centred as an individual. In this business it is very easy to get caught up in running a rat race. If you don’t succeed in getting what you want and you lose Patience, you settle for anything.
Yet, I have stood my ground and it has been tough. To survive in an expensive city like bombay, I could settled for doing any acting jobs to keep me going but I have always stuck to being choosy.
And for the same reason, to be able to stand on my own two feet, I started anchoring.
So I feel I it’s a huge blessing that I can fund my own dreams and keep me going.
There were low points, but I had to keep reminding myself of the bigger picture and how there have been so many other actors who waited in the wings for years before they got their due, Vidya Balan is a stunning example. And this is how I feel I have been able to win against all odds and am ready to step into big things now.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Maybe taken up travel writing / blogging and photography. Just travelled the world and wrote about all the things that I wanted to explore. That’s still on my bucket list though.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My parents. They have been so supportive even when they did not want to.
And having seen me grow makes them so proud today and all my little achievements are insanely huge in their eyes, it makes me feel overwhelmed.
They share every story of my work success with everyone they know. In fact, my dad knows more about Bollywood news and gossip than I do. I don’t read as much but he scoops up every bit of news there is. And he surprises me every time.
What does the future hold for you?
Lots of success!
I can tell you that. I feel attitude is one of the biggest things that defines a winner and I have been able to polish mine to a great extent . And I have learnt to put my head down and work , that is the single most important thing for an artist who is by her own. Only good work will get you work and to keep going no matter what, is the key .
An artist can never truly say I have arrived because there is always room for improvement even if you are a great. And honestly, I want myself to be bigger than an actor or A star. I want to be a huge role model for people to be able to influence the society to do more good, do pread love and peace, and create more love for for environment and animals. That I feel is truly my mission.
I feel this was more like following my heart and mind than anything else.
It constantly seemed than anything else that I did, was never satisfying enough till I was acting in front of an audience or a camera. It just felt like being home.
I was always very active in extra curricular activities in school, especially theatre. And different schools and cities gave me a varied experiences in that field. From playing a king, a bus conductor, a beggar to playing a legendary dancer, I donned many hats as an actor.
And then once I took the big step of leaving my life behind as a journalist in Delhi ( where I thoroughly enjoyed working in leading publications and news channels) and I moved to Mumbai , I plunged myself into learning more.
I took training at Barry John s Acting academy where Barry sir and Saurabh sir pushed me to open myself further as an actor, helping me hone my skills further. They always say, “One can’t become an actor, you just have in it you. And further you can develop skills to be better at it. “
And they always said, for me to get better, I must pull down the walls of inhibition and too much education, which seemed absolutely true to me.
And then I also did a beautiful workshop with Neeraj Kabi sir that focused on not just acting but voice and mind training too.
And while this was happening on the side, I was auditioning for tvc and films. I shot for some leading campaigns over the last few years such as pepperfry, Sanyo, fox traveller, etc and had been in the running for some of the big films that have come out. But as it’s believed in Bollywood, as an actor, you can do your best and then leave it to destiny. There is no way to understand why some things work and some don’t.
Which is when NEERJA happened. For me , it was like being back in theatre where the style of working on this film was very intense and performance oriented. And as an actor, you had to stay in character throughout , which is why the film seemed so real. It’s unfortunate, for reasons unknown to me, my part got much shorter than it was originally written to be.
But I feel I must continue to create an impressive body of work, because that’s Ultimately my mission. To work hard and shine in as many varied kinds of projects. And this also encouraged, the writer in me to begin creating stuff that I would want to be seen in and be proud of.
And that is how my short film, THE DOOR, happened. It has been a patient journey of trying to get like minded people on board and create something impactful with the limited resources that we had.
And I am extremely proud to say, I was overwhelmed when I first saw it with my friends, who are brutally honest. And they seemed very overjoyed with what we had created. And a big credit goes to my director, Gaurav C Bhat, who believed in me not just an an actor but also a writer, and took this risk.