Is Kuchh Kariye your first film as an actress? What is your role in it?
Kuchh Kariye is not my debut film as an actress. I had made my debut with Ek Dastak in the lead with Vasundhara Das and Narendra Jha three years ago but felt that I was yet another actress in the film and hence decided to take a break and now am re-emerging with Kuchh Kariye. I play the role of Alpana, who wants to explore her talent as a singer though she is living as a live in partner in a small town like Dehra Dun with the well known singer Rishi, played by Sukhwinder, who is making his debut with the film as a leading man. Rishi is already a well known singer. Alpana and Rishi decide to migrate to Mumbai to explore their potential.
To what extent do you relate to your character in the film, in real life?
Till a few years ago, Alpana in the film was actually me, unsure and trying to explore myself in the field of education. I could easily identify with the milieu in which the film has been set and the insecurities which Alpana undergoes and hence I could relate to Alpana. I confess that though I did my education as per my parents" desire, I became a rebel and told my parents that I wanted to be an actress. I am glad that I was lucky to have got an opportunity to pursue what I wanted to.
Considering the fact you hail from Bihar, were you allowed to do what you wanted?
My grand mother was the grand niece of India"s first ever President Dr Rajendra Prasad. Women in our family did what they wanted to do and were never told what they should do.
What do you think is important for a girl to become an actress - beauty or talent?
Though I do not think that beauty is a criterion to be an actress, I know that till you get many opportunities here, even talent isn"t considered important. You learn through awareness from life. I learnt that acting isn"t elusive and you can learn it, even if it isn"t in your blood. I learnt acting from Neeraj Kabhi. Kareena or for that matter Karisma Kapoor are not great actresses just because of their talent but because they belong to the Kapoor family.
How is Sukhwinder, who is a good singer, as an actor?
Sukhi observed all of us on the sets almost for a week and after a week, he picked up nuances of acting and even turned the table on us by proving to be even better than all of us. Sukhi is not required as an actor to show off his body in the film because the character that he plays does not require him to do so. In any case, I think that the lean era is now in as far as men are concerned.
Do you believe in being fit to click as an actress?
As an actress, your job is very demanding and hence you have to be fit. I am fit but I feel that a woman with a little meat will look better any day. It is sad that all rules are meant only for women. You find all kinds of actors but poor actresses have to abide by the image of what a heroine is.
Did you fall in love with Sukhwinder while acting in the film?
I was with the theatre group Act One in Delhi as well as Pravah Theater Lab of Neeraj Kabhi in Mumbai. Since I hail from theatre, I could easily resist real life temptation. I know what is reel and what is real. I was focused on things which I wanted to do and hence I confess that I missed the bus as far as having a boyfriend was concerned. I think I need romance in my life now.
What is your take on love and lust?
When you are in love, you should build some thing together and work on the same goal. There should be an ideological meeting point when two people are in love. I feel that love without respect is nothing. It is like a meal which you enjoy just once. Lust is just transitory. It is something which just fades away sooner than you think it will.
Are you okay as far as a live in relationship is concerned?
A place becomes small not because of hemisphere but according to your thinking. A live in relationship is quite possible in Dehra Dun or even Mussoorie but not in Bareilly or for that matter Muzaffarpur. I do not believe that you have to be married to live with some one you love. What one does spontaneously is more important than following the diktats of the traditions and rituals.
To what extent, are you ready to flaunt your skin on the screen?
For me body is just another vehicle of an actor. If I play a prostitute, I"d be ready to titillate a part of the character. If I play a diva or a swimmer, I"d be game to appear in a two piece bikini too, because I like to be true to my character. Though as an actor, I do not have inhibitions, as Shreya Narayan, I have inhibitions in real life, because the character I play in a film could be bold but I am not as bold as Mallika Sherawat is. Mallika has a different sensibility than most of the other actresses.
Does it mean that you are not scared of the syndrome of the casting couch?
To tell you the truth, in the first few years after I came from Delhi, I would not even go to meet people because I was scared of the casting couch. The more confident I became of myself, the more did I lose my fears, because I came to know myself. I worked a lot on my mind and insecurities. Fame is the test that you have to pass. Till you become famous, you will continue to be humiliated. After you become famous, you will be judged. Hence it is difficult for me to be in comfort zone as an actor, because people will always test you to know what kind of a person you are and what kind of milieu do you come from. They think you are easily available, if you are an actress. It helps me that I have a mind of my own and am assertive. I do not get frazzled in front of people because I cannot be made to feel lesser. I have been a loner but never lonely.
Which are the films that you have up your sleeves now?
I am acting in Maqsad directed by Sudanshu Jha, as an ACP, with Parveen Dabas and Yashpal Sharma as my co-actors. I am also acting in Tanu Weds Manu opposite Jimmy Shergill, beside a small role in Prakash Jha"s Raajneeti. I may also be doing a mini series in Hindi for BBC. It will be an adaptation of a cult show in BBC, UK. I believe in the sensitivity that acting is bigger than big names and therefore I believe that it will make me stay longer. Ash isn"t my inspiration but actresses who have sustained themselves in the field of acting beyond their ages and beauty like Meryl Strep who at the age of 63 is still playing the lead in Hollywood blockbuster.