Sreelekha at her new home in Garia with her picture as the backdrop.
Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Of the seven seasons of Mirakkel Akkel Challenger (Zee Bangla, now off air), you were a judge on five. How was it?
I was just myself on the show. When people see me in films or TV serials, they see me as someone else because there I’m playing a role. But as a judge on a reality show, people see the real me — Sreelekha Mitra, the person. If a contestant ever cracked a joke that was against the dignity of women or hurt the sentiments of a particular class of people, I would always object. When I felt sad, I cried and when someone tickled my funny bone, I laughed. I don’t use glycerine while crying. I am not diplomatic at all and I didn’t wear a mask. Perhaps that’s why I was a constant on Mirakkel. Besides, I am intelligent, I am not dumb. I am sure my humane side came through on the show.... Mirakkel is a fun platform. One day I had hugged Mir and on the next episode, he gifted me a pack of Huggies! So, it’s a lot of fun.
Do you need any homework to be a judge?
I am a good observer. I keep my ears and eyes open. I am a student of English literature but I have read Bengali literature too... Sharadindu (Bandopadhyay) and Shirshendu (Mukhopadhyay).... I read a lot. Not to update myself for the show, but generally. Also, since I am the only woman (between Rajatava Dutta and Paran Bandopadhyay), I guess people liked me, my clothes.... When I wasn’t on the show for two seasons in between, people would ask me, ‘Sreelekhadi, apnake na dekhle bhalo lagchhe na.’ So there’s a connect. They also think I am unbiased or maybe I am a person who has the courage to call a spade, a spade.
What you wear was quite a talking point. How do you go about choosing your outfits?
I have a costume designer and a make-up artist. Sometimes some dresses weren’t good. Maybe it came at the last moment. I couldn’t go for a trial and I looked fat on screen! But I have tried to maintain versatility, or maybe I have dressed according to the theme. I didn’t look monotonous, boring. I sported a different look in every episode. A lot of the viewers would actually wonder what Sreelekha would wear on a particular day!
You must have good feedback about looking sexy!
See, I wear everything unless I feel very uncomfortable in something. I don’t mind if people call me sexy, I take that as a compliment. But I shouldn’t and can’t look vulgar. I didn’t look vulgar even when I was overweight (after my daughter Oishi was born) and wore revealing clothes. I feel the person inside me gets reflected on my face. So I know whatever I wear, my face never looks vulgar. Maybe people like me more in a sari, but a lot of people also tell me that I look sensuous in western clothes because I have a very innocent face. Personally, I think I look best in a sari (smiles).
You’ve been a part of ABP Ananda Anchor Hunt for two years. What do you look for in an anchor?
That is a different ball game altogether. I had to read up a lot and keep myself updated on the latest political news, sports news…. I would read the newspapers regularly and all the pages! The brief that I got was they wanted somebody who would look good and look credible as a judge. It was an enriching experience because it was very interactive. I had a lot of fun with Dhritimanda (Chaterji).... But it was very exhausting. Because I didn’t know all the news. I literally sat with books to study like a student! And I would Google things as honestly it’s very difficult to keep track of what’s happening around all the time.
Did your being a judge block film offers?
No, no. As it is I don’t get too many film offers. (Laughs) No it was manageable. Mirakkel required only eight-nine dates per month. It never posed a problem.
Will you do more such shows?
Stand-up comedies? No. If something different comes then I will say yes.
An actor you would like to get naughty with on screen...
A cartoon character who turns you on...
A movie title for the story of your life...
A Short Story About Love.
If you woke up tomorrow in the body of somebody else it should be...
The hottest compliment you’ve got from a man... A lot of men have told me that I can carry off revealing outfits because my face never looks vulgar. Men think I’m sensuous and intelligent.
You like to be stuck in a lift with...
Aamir Khan is pretty boring. Leonardo DiCaprio, and (Quentin) Tarantino. Or maybe Uttam Kumar!
Your favourite pastime...
Reading good books and watching good films.
One mean dish you make...
Simple mutton curry. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and I think nobody can make it as well as I do!
A perfume that defines your personality...
Ether. There’s nothing synthetic about it.
A memorable workplace romance...
My marriage was out of that. I met my husband (Shiladitya Sanyal) while working on Teen Satti, a telefilm directed by Shyamal Sengupta for ETV Bangla. Shiladitya was the assistant director and I proposed to him after a week!
A little secret we don’t know about you...
I love to sleep! And I am very scared of ghosts! I freak out watching horror films.
You are currently reading...
The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) and I am reading a lot of Shirshendu’s (Mukhopadhyay) historical novels and Saradindu’s (Bandopadhyay) Uponnash Samagro.
One character from a book that resembles you the most...
Nahar from one of Afsar Ahmed’s short stories. I could identify with the dilemma of the character. Like me she too is complicated and that’s what makes me interesting, I guess!
Five qualities a reality show judge must have.... He/she must be unbiased. Should be emotional at times. Should be humane. Should be blunt but at the same time should have control over the choice of words. Shouldn’t humiliate and ridicule a participant. Should be real.
A show judge you really like....
Farah Khan. She has the right sense of humour with a balance of pragmatic and humorous.
If you ever fall in love with another man, you would...
See, it can be a very transitory phase. I can fall in love for maybe a period of time or for an hour! But if I really fall in love and feel that he can be my soulmate and if I really feel from inside that I can’t live without him then I think there’s no point in continuing with the marriage. I would walk out because I won’t be comfortable being in two relationships at the same time.
One hairstyle you want to sport but don’t have the guts to...
Asymmetrical hairstyle. A part of my hair should be very long and the other short!
The boldest dress you ever wore...
I had gone on a family vacation to Goa and I wore a two-piece bikini and roamed around on the beaches!
Does Sreelekha look best in a sari? Tellt2@abp.in