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Screen savvy

I grew up in Karol Bagh in Delhi, and did my schooling from Vidya Bhawan School. I developed an interest in theatre during my days at Janki Devi Memorial College. I would see actors on stage and I knew deep down that I could do it too. But I was a very shy person and could never get myself to take active part in college theatre.

But that didn’t diminish my interest. In 1978, I applied for and I got admission in the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi. It was a major turning point in my life. My inspiration for joining the academy was Ebrahim Alkazi, the then director of NSD. I’d seen him direct a play for the NSD Repertory Company, the school’s professional performing wing, and was certain that he was the one who could guide me in the acting arena. But unfortunately he left when I joined and my experience at NSD did not turn out to be as I had expected. Nevertheless, I learnt a lot from the institution.

Another turning point came in 1981 when I moved to Mumbai. I realised that staying and working in a new city was a completely different ball game. The initial years were a struggle. I met people who promised me roles but nothing concrete happened. My first film was Ashok Ahuja’s Aadharshila that won a National Award in 1982. Then I did small, yet meaningful, roles in films like Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982), Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) and Shyam Benegal’s Mandi (1983) and Trikal (1985).

Landing a role in the serial Khandaan (1985) — was my big break on television. I’ve acted in nearly 100 serials since and this medium has given me the opportunity to experiment with different roles.

I’m now playing the protagonist, Dr Kalyani, in the soap Dil Se Diya… Vachan. I don’t plan for the future. I go with flow and select the best role that comes my way.

(As told to Lubna Salim)

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