Sakshi Tanwar had gone unnoticed in serials like Dastoor and Rajdhani before she became the iconic Parvati of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. It’s a decade since then but the actress is still ruling the tube, this time as the sweet and good-natured Priya of Bade Acche Laggte Hain. Unlike several TV actors, she could not make a successful transition to films, but she has suddenly become the darling of the ad world. She is currently the face of 12 brands, almost as many as some of the leading actresses. In an exclusive tete-a-tete with Chaya Unnikrishnan, the actress shares her fundas of success, her equation with Ekta and more...
Ekta is family
Sakshi and Ekta have known each other for 13 years, the longest working association perhaps in the TV industry, “It is 13 years since we know each other and we are more like family now,” says Sakshi. Unlike other actresses like Smriti Irani who have fallen out, Sakshi and Ekta have continued to remain friends and share a healthy working relationship.
Sakshi says, “That’s because both of us are hardcore professionals. She demands, I deliver and in turn I get what I command,” says Sakshi simply. Recalling her journey with the queen of soaps, the actress says she had turned down the offer to play Parvati thrice before accepting. Same was the case with Bade Acche... “I remember I was still shooting for Kahaani... in 2005-6 when Ekta told me that she had another show with me in mind. I didn’t even hear what it was about and just said okay.
Kahaani... ended in 2008 and within four months Ekta offered me Bade..,” recalls Sakshi.
However, she wasn’t up to it as she didn’t want to do another daily soap after being part of one for eight long years. Instead of taking the show to another actress, Ekta told her to take a break and get back whenever she’s ready. “Every five months I would get a call from Balaji (Ekta’s production house) asking if I was ready. But I took a two-and-a-half-year break during which time I did a cameo — a negative role in Balika Vadhu and hosted Crime Patrol.
In January 2011, Ekta called me again and this time I was willing to take the plunge provided it wasn’t a long-running soap,” explains Sakshi. Ekta convinced her that it’s a story of two strangers who get married. A 200-episode story, it would have a finite end, she was told. “The role was fabulous and suited my personality because it was written for me,” the actress says. Since then the serial has crossed 400 episodes and has been on air for over two years now! “Yes, the years have flown away,” smiles Sakshi.
Comedy ka circus!
Both on and off screen, Sakshi has a squeaky clean image, thanks to her shows and how she conducts herself. She has managed to stay away from controversies, which is quite a feat. Even her innumerable commercials, be it Boroline, Suthol, Kellogs etc, she is the perfect woman, or the perfect wife or mother... She is comfortable being typecast, “That’s possibly because of the roles I have played. After all, one does give a certain part of oneself to the character.” She is exactly like the characters she plays -- sane, sensible, smart -- but she did attempt to break the stereotype in Balika Vadhu which cast her in a negative role. Says Sakshi, “I wanted people to say ‘how could she do this’.
I needed to shake them up.” She did that and went back to being Priya of Bade Acche... in which she was the ideal beti and bahu, “But at least she is not as serious as Parvati,” quips Sakshi claiming that off-screen she is a badmaash. “I am fun-loving and play a lot of pranks. My friends threaten to videoshoot me offscreen and put it on YouTube!” grins she. A great mimic, the actress is adept at picking up accents and can become a Bengali or South Indian in a jiffy. “Viewers should have faith in me, as comedy is on my wishlist now,” she adds.
The success of Bade Acche Laggte Hai rides on the earthy and natural chemistry between Sakshi and Ram. The reason their pair works, says Sakshi, is Ram’s spontaneity, “That’s best thing about him. We read the script but during the shot a lot of it is impromptu and improvised. That brings in the natural and slice-of-life element,” she explains. However, there is no Mr Right for her off-screen as yet. The actress shrugs that marriage will happen, and she isn’t even thinking about it. “I just follow the instructions given by God. He must have some plan for me and I would rather wait,” is all that the actress who has been playing the ideal bahu on screen, has to say about her plans of tying the knot.
Unlike several TV actors, including her co-star Ram Kapoor, Sakshi has not been able to make a successful transition to films. While some of her movies like Coffee House did not garner numbers, others like Mohalla Assi with Sunny Deol are yet to see the light of the day. “I don’t know, I never planned things or made that extra effort. Whatever three-four films I did, just came to me,” explains Sakshi. Besides, she reasons, the kind of challenging roles that she is “greedy for are being done by the bigger names in the industry”. She has no regrets, though, “I may not have done well in films but have built a brand on the basis of my work and credibility on TV,” she says proudly.
Sakshi is one of the best known actresses on the small screen but it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She had aspirations of becoming an IAS officer and she had even given the exams. However, she flunked it and did a three-and-a-half year diploma course in software instead. “But destiny had some other calling for me,” she shares. Now, the actress is hoping to become a teacher. “For the longest time I wanted to be a teacher. I would love to hold some drama or story-telling sessions with kids,” she says.
Work schedules will always be crazy but Sakshi makes sure she goes on impromptu breaks even if it’s just for two-three days, she flies to Delhi to spend time with her parents. Another thing she enjoys doing when not working is watching films with her friends. “I am not big on eating out so lunches and dinners are mostly at home. On days when I get an off I just laze around and catch up on my sleep,” she reveals.
But the 10.30 pm slot in her house is reserved for Bade Acche Laggte Hai because her family watches it. “I see it as an outsider,” she reveals. Apart from that she never misses the American show Modern Family, “Because it is light-hearted and I can go to bed with a smile on her face.”
She used to love watching Kuch Toh Log Kahenge as she liked its freshness but that’s gone off air and when time permits she tunes into Balika Vadhu. “Otherwise I am more into travel or news-based shows,” she concludes.