First things first. Congratulations, you are going to be a mom soon. How has your pregnancy been till now?
I am feeling lovely and happy but I am nervous at the same time. It’s a mixed bag of emotions. We were surprised when I conceived because we hadn’t planned the baby. Actually, I was feeling a bit low on energy since a few days. I went up to Suyyash (Rai, husband) and told him that I think there is some ‘gadbad’ and we should probably do the pregnancy test. He looked at me and said: Are you sure? I said: Yeah, let’s do it, ‘pata toh chal jayega!’ The first reaction after I tested positive on both our faces was ‘What!’. But overnight, we just got prepared as if we had been trying to be parents. A few days later, I developed thyroid and mood swings, followed by my mother getting hospitalised as she’d contracted Covid. Suyyash is a big support and he’s made it easy. But then, he too got COVID. My Dad also got COVID. This in turn led to me having to take the most stringent precautions. Anyway, now we are fine. But yes, too much was happening.
You have been around for 23 years. Do you think you could’ve done more work?
Not really. From playing a doctor to a vamp to a lawyer to a ‘Bramharakshas’, I’ve done it all. Yeah, I wanted to play a lesbian but that didn’t happen.
You feel that it is challenging to play a lesbian?
It would be something new and yeah, so it would be challenging. And now that our society has approved of it, I think it would be worthwhile to play this character, say, after a few years. Such roles are going to be around in the near future.
When are you likely to resume work after the baby?
About a year. I have good help at home. So if the role is really exciting, then maybe earlier. Let’s see how it goes.
Six years of courtship before marriage. How have the 10 years of togetherness with Suyyash been?
We have had our ups and downs but we are going very fine with each other. We love each other a lot but at the same time, we give each other the required space. We don’t get too clingy.
When it comes to films, I see only Bheja Fry 2 in your filmography…
I did ‘Hum Tum aur Shabana’ too.
I don’t think anybody who hasn’t seen that film knows that you did ‘Hum Tum aur Shabana’…
Yes. Well, I stuck more to TV because I think it gives you more recognition. Small roles in films serve no purpose.
Did you try hard to become a Bollywood heroine in your early days at least?
Not really. I did go for meetings but somehow I knew that I didn’t have a Bollywood face and wasn’t good at dancing. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable wearing a bikini. After marriage, thoda freedom mila hai toh faida uthaya jaata hai. But I think TV was clean work.
Did you face the problem of casting couch?
Yes, I did. It happened with me when I had gone for a meeting- but just once. My mother was accompanying me. I was told that I’ll have to sleep with the hero. I politely turned down the offer and we left. I wouldn’t say ki ye bahut hota hai or it’s a normal thing. Industry badnaam hai lekin har industry mein ye cheez hoti hai.
I don’t think you are going to name the hero and the producer, but were they very big names?
Yes, very big names.
Did that unpleasant experience of casting couch keep you away from movies?
Nope, I was very focused at work. As I told you, I was more inclined towards TV. I kept getting work in quality and quantity. All said and done, I am very happy with the way my career shaped up.
Many TV actresses have told us that filmmakers are not open to casting them.
Yeh hota tha (This would happen), they felt that we are in the face of viewers every day. But things are changing with the inroads that streaming platforms have made. That way if you see, ‘Crime Patrol’ was not expecting a good audition from me but I surprised them. Even they had a fixed notion that I was too glamorous and negative in my portrayals when I tested for a cop’s role in their show.
You have said that you are blessed to have conceived at the age of 40. Would you have otherwise gone in for a scientific method at some point?
Well my mother was after me to have a baby, and just a week before I conceived, told me that I should freeze my eggs.
Did you follow Bigg Boss 14?
I think Bigg Boss has got quite scripted now. It was so different when Suyyash and I did the show. Even Yuvika Chaudhary for that matter. We were so confused, we just didn’t know what we should do. Today, every contestant seems to exactly know his/her next step. Even the contestants going out and coming back indiscriminately, despite some of them hitting each other, depicts that now there are no rules and regulations being applied.
You walked out of Bigg Boss 9 saying that you are doing it for Prince Narula. A section of the people said that you exited because you knew that you were not going to win against him…
I did it because of pure emotion. Prince is like my brother and we are still family friends. I may come across as arrogant and bitchy but I have stopped giving explanations. I know I am not that. As long as I know what I am, that’s all that matters. And, I am not going to change if anybody wants me to. Remember, I even apologise if I feel that I am wrong.
Salman Khan condemned you for spitting in Rishabh’s food. Do you regret doing that?
Nothing against Salman sir. I loved him in the show. I definitely regret spitting in Rishabh’s food but a lot of other contestants, about six or seven, also spit in Rishabh’s food. But that was not shown. I still get messages that I shouldn’t give gyan etc, but I know the truth. Theek hai, woh ek galti thi meri and I said ‘sorry’ to Rishabh and we are friends again.
Will you work with Rashmi Sharma again?
I don’t have any problems with her.
You had issues with her when you did her show ‘Savitri College Hospital’…
Oh you mean, producer Rashmi Sharma. I thought, the actress Rashmi Sharma. No, I won’t.
If you bump into Rashmi Sharma, will you say ‘Hi’ to her?
I never said ‘Hi’ to her when she was on the sets. So why now? They spread rumours about me and kept me waiting for long hours, way beyond 13 hours. Thank God, I put my foot down.