Your look as Kamyani Devi in ‘Hello Mini 3’ is terrific! Feels like you were meant for the role…
You know, and I swear to God it’s true, that is exactly what Goldie (Behl) told me when he called me up to offer me the role. He said nobody else can do it except for me. I don’t think anybody else can pull it off. The look is made for me. I am humbled.
How did you approach the character?
When Goldie Behl and Arjun (Srivasstava) talked to me about my role, they said that Kamyani Devi has to be someone who is definitely not over the top. Given that she is the head of a cult, the head of a community, you can tend to go very over the top. We’ve seen a lot of characters like that. But ‘KD Maa’ had to be real, believable, someone who just means business; she is someone of whom people sit up and take notice. The character demanded such weight. The way she’s going to speak, her stature, the walk, the talk, that of course came from me, but I totally imbibed what they said about the character not being a caricature of any real-life person.
KD is the first time I’m playing a Godwoman. I’m in a look where I’m not screaming, shouting, or anything like that; it’s all very underplayed. Because it called for someone who would be believable as a Godwoman and have a magnetic attraction, which is very, very important for the head of any cult, as otherwise, nobody will follow them.
Since you are the latest addition to the show, will you be revealing who the stranger is?
Let’s just say, KD maa is definitely responsible for a lot of things to do with the stranger. And also whether Mini finds her answers or doesn’t. But, as far as the stranger is concerned, I can’t tell you too much. But who knows? Yeah, maybe (winks). People might be very happy about the season.
Does acting become a little more challenging in suspense shows, because you have that person in your head?
Can I tell you something? I did not ask them for the entire script. I asked them for the last few episodes, where everything comes into play, and we find out things about this stranger, later on after the shooting. So, I just had an overview of KD Maa. But the crux of the last few episodes was a good thing to not know. As an actor, I like to keep the interest alive. I didn’t take it right in the beginning so that there’s an effect of the unknown. As far as I’m concerned, it did not affect my acting or my character.
You’ve played a range of characters now–mom, villain, narrator, clingy girlfriend. How do you choose your scripts? What kind of characters do you want to play?
I’m known for these characters. As an actor, you always want to do a hell of a lot more. I’ve always wanted to play a ‘Umrao Jaan’ character like Rekha’s Amiran. Now, that’s my dream. I’m not a trained dancer but I would love to do a role that really requires me to lose myself as far as training for it is concerned. If somebody really had to push me, it would have to be a sports character. Because I’ve never played any sport in my life. So, as an actor, that’s one character that I would love to play; it can be any sort of sport but I would start from scratch and make it believable.
You said you’ve come to be associated with certain characters. Is there pressure to live up to expectations now?
Honestly, it doesn’t feel like pressure. It’s just the biggest compliment that one can receive, and it is respect for your art and craft when somebody says that you are the only one they could think of for a role. Then you work all the more hard to make that character believable and to make sure that it stands out. It’s a positive affirmation, it’s not a scary aspect for me at all. It just makes me add a lot more to that character to try and find some new ends or something about that character, which is different from anything that I’ve played before.
How has OTT been a boon for you?
It has been a fantastic experience ever since it started because I’ve been given a chance to play a myriad of characters, which are totally different. What’s nice about OTT platforms is that there’s no fear, and there’s a lot more scope for experimentation. You’re not working under some sort of rules, as far as portraying something in concerned and you can add to it. So, you have a lot more liberty.
I’ve been very, very lucky in finding work with some very interesting directors on OTT platforms. It has been a resurrection for actors like me. I turned 50 last year, and this is the most work that I have done at 50. Last year was the most work that I have done in a certain span of time between September to now.
How are things shaping up for you in the industry?
I’m definitely happy. I’m not happy about the way things are for all of us what with the constant breaks in shooting, but I’m very happy as far as OTT is concerned. Not only do I have constant work, but I am also doing something which stands out every time. And it doesn’t require the concentration of spending 20-25 days on the sets of a daily soap. So, you know, I’m happy at the moment.
But yeah, I would love to do a little more film work. I’ve done two films recently, one of which is a Malayalam film called ‘Cold Case’ with Prithviraj. I’m optimistic. I count my blessings, I really do. In this day and age to get the amount of work that I had last year during this whole chaos, I’m really blessed.
What upcoming projects you are working on?
I have an OTT show produced by Zoya Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar together. I have a project with Raul Bose, which is called ‘Eternally Confused And Eager For Love’. I am also in the Indian version of ‘Call My Agent’. Then there’s ‘Masaba Masaba 2’, and ‘Made In Heaven 2’. I just shot for a project with Shruti Hassan and Arjan Bajwa, as well. There’s a lot of stuff coming up and a lot of things to look forward to.