What made you take up Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 14 years after your stint on the dance reality show, Zara Nachke Dikha?
I still don’t call myself a dancer and I don’t know whether I can dance. However, I have a sound understanding of tune and rhythm. I believe in entertaining, which isn’t just comedy. I have told my choreographer to design dance performances that suit me. Till the time I last on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, do-chaar chauke maar ke nikalne ki koshish karenge taaki logo ko yaad rahe.
In recent years, you have been seen mainly on comedy shows. Do you feel typecast in the genre?
Yes, but then even legendary actors have been typecast. However, whenever they have played a serious character, people have resonated and cried with them. I should get an opportunity to showcase my versatility. My image as a comedian is so strong that it has become like a baggage and people don’t consider me for any other role.
Woh mujhe auraton ke libaas ke baahar dekh hi nahi paa rahe and they doubt whether I will be able to play any other character. How do we change this mindset? Only a handful of producers have shown their belief in me by giving me an opportunity to explore other shades as an artiste. In fact, I stayed away from TV for a long time fearing that people might think I was happy doing just comedy. Not that I am unhappy, but I want variety, too. I am greedy as an artiste.
We have learnt that you will be performing as Daadi (the character from Kapil Sharma’s standup comedy show) in the initial episodes of JDJ. Have you missed playing the character?
Yes, of course. However, it tends to get monotonous. Not that I had any qualms about playing female characters but I also wanted to play something else.
Not many know why you quit Kapil Sharma’s show. In fact, Kapil on a chat show mentioned that he would block you as he didn’t know why you left the show…
I wasn’t creatively satisfied, as my character (Naani) wasn’t growing. I had intimated the team about it even before going to Australia (2017). I had a lot to perform as Daadi, which wasn’t the case with Naani’s character. When the time came to renew my contract, I shared my apprehensions with the team and told them that I wasn’t too keen on continuing on the show.
Par uss waqt itna raayta phail gaya tha ki kuchh log baat ko uss taraf le gaye aur kuchh doosri taraf. Itna kuchh ho gaya tha ki kya safaai dena aur kya bolna. Unfortunately, the incident between Kapil and Sunil took place around that time. Maybe, Kapil didn’t know the reason why I quit the show. It may not have reached him. I can’t cheat as an artiste. If I am not happy, how will I entertain the audience? So, it seemed better to leave the show then and if something nice would come up, we could collaborate again.
Why didn’t you reach out to Kapil to clear the air? Did he reach out to you?
We missed each other’s calls back then and there was a communication gap. With time, both of us moved on. But I am happy that I was a part of it and I learned a lot from him. I will always respect him. He understands the pulse of the audience and knows how to hold a show.
In hindsight, do you regret quitting Kapil’s show because somehow you couldn’t recreate the success of Daadi?
I completely agree that I couldn’t recreate the success in projects that followed.
Ho sakta hai shows
mein woh baat nahi thi ya performance
mein kuchh kami hogi. Complaining about it is a futile exercise. There is always a lot to analyse. However, I don’t have any regrets. I had a reason to quit the show and it wasn’t an overnight decision. I didn’t have much to do on the show. If the intent was to earn money, I would have still continued on the show.