Why did you take such a long break after Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi?
After Kyunki... I had to take a break because my kids were very small. With Ram (Kapoor) working round-the-clock it was imperative that one of us stay back and take care of the children. I chose to do that because I wanted to be a hands-on mother.
What prompted you to take up Khelti Hai Zindagi Aankhmicholi now?
Actually, I have been itching to work since the last two years especially after I did the small role in Student Of The Year. I had tasted blood and wanted to get back as soon as possible. However, either the script, working hours or the location didn’t suit me. Most of the serials these days are shot in far-flung places like Naigaon, which is logistically not possible for me.
However, with Zee’s Khelti Hai Zindagi Aankhmicholi everything fell into place. The script is good, my character Shruti is interesting it is about a mother-daughter relationship and it is being shot at Malad, which is quite convenient.
Isn’t the story more about a teenage girl who plays your daughter?
Yes, it is from her point of view, but my character is strong.
Also, these days everything depends on the audience response. The story changes accordingly. And as I said, the character I play is different from what I have done so far and it’s very close to who I am. Shruti is a mother and faces the challenges as a working parent, which is what I am doing in real-life too. I am keeping the character as real as possible.
Do you find a lot of changes in the way serials are being made today?
Yes, it has become very demanding and cut-throat. The shelf life of serials has reduced. If a serial doesn’t rake up the requisite points, it is taken off air within three months.
Nobody has patience, there’s no trial period, which is sad as a lot of effort, time and money goes into the making. You also as an actor try to build the graph, it doesn’t happen overnight. I am trying to adapt to the changes but I have no expectations. I will have a blast, give my best and leave the rest.
What was Ram’s reaction to your comeback?
Ram has always maintained that I should get back. He knows I can’t sit at home because I started working when I was very young. In fact, whenever I got offers I discussed them with him because he has a pulse on TV and a very good sensibility. He rejected most, and sometimes I would get annoyed.
I would tell him just let me do it. He used to ask me to relax and wait. He was proved right in many cases. He would tell ‘see what has happened to the character you were doing or where the serial has gone.’ When this serial came he said do it. Not only that, he is pitching in by adjusting his schedule. When I was working for longer hours he was at home for two days.
He was teasing me to take him to a movie! Even my mother-in-law is very supportive and makes it a point to be there during a crisis. The fact that I will not be there all the time now for my children is unnerving, but kids also need a breather.
With Ram soaring in his career and keeping busy hours, do you somewhere resent that he cannot spend time with you?
It’s wonderful to see Ram where he is today. He has grown so much as an actor. He worked very hard for 13 years.
Today everything has fallen into place, but he has made many sacrifices. But yes, there was a point in my life, when the kids were very small and I found it tough. Ram being away most of the time, made it tougher. I must say it was challenging to be at home. My social life had come to a standstill.
However, I realised in course of time that whatever Ram is doing is for us, so he needs to work more or everything will go haywire. That kept me going.
How do you deal with the controversies surrounding Ram? There was talk of him having an affair with Eva Grover..
Ram was always flamboyant, a ladies’ man. But you got to have confidence and trust in the relationship. A few years ago, there was a gay scandal about Ram and Naman (Shaw) with whom he was doing a serial.
That time my daughter was four months old. We just laughed it off. So, when the reports about his affair with another actress came out, we did not react. When you are in this industry every other day something or the other is written about you.
How do you react to the fact that Ram and Sakshi (Tanwar) share a good chemistry in Bade Acche Laggte Hai?
Even I share a very good chemistry with Sakshi! (Laughs). I know her since the Kahaani (Ghar Ghar Kii) days and absolutely love her as we share the same sensibility. Also, she is a tremendous actor and a very simple person sans any politics . When I heard she was cast opposite Ram, I was very happy.
Last but not the least, while you are extremely fitness-conscious Ram is just the opposite...
That’s because I am genetically blessed with being slim. During both my pregnancies I gained 25 kilos and lost it without any effort. I used to ask Ram why can’t he lose weight? Then I realised that I can eat any amount of burgers, fried items and get away with it but if Ram eats even one burger, he puts on weight.
Food is his poison. Clothes are mine. If you tell me not to shop for clothes for the next one month I will go into depression. If somebody tells Ram to diet, the same will happen to him. But from a health perspective he tries. He will lose weight in due time.
Isn’t it true that producers want him to be well-rounded?
Yes, it started with Bade Acche Laggte Hai. Even his two upcoming releases needed him to be big but after that he will start streamlining. In any case, he looks good even if he is on the heavier side!