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‘I’m not going to burst into an item number just to prove I’m not Jassi in real life’

Q:Jassi…

No, don’t call me that any more. I’m Mona...I’ve to find my own identity now. It’s been three years (laughs uncomfortably)! I was zapped mentally. Imagine telling people all the time that I wasn’t Mona, that I was this make-believe character named Jassi. Initially, I sort of enjoyed the anonymity. But after a while it became a mental torture to be ‘Jassi’ even at awards functions. I used to plead with my channel [Sony] to let me be myself at least at the awards function. Because it was Mona Singh and not Jassi who received the awards. But they insisted.

Q: So how did you cope'

My family was my reality check. My father kept telling me to wait for Jassi’s makeover to happen. Then I’d at least look like myself…. I had become like Clark Kent, waiting to be Superman. I used to keep repeating to myself, ‘Jassi isn’t me and I’m not Jassi.’ In the morning when I’d wake up my hands would automatically go to my face to look for the wig, the glasses…. When Jassi’s makeover happened in Mauritius I couldn’t act! I needed the ‘Jassi’ props (braces, wig, etc) to emote. I forgot my dialogues! I was assured by my costar Veerendra Saxena (who plays my father) that I’d be okay in a month.

Q:Are you now comfortable with your own natural looks'

Yes, I am. It took me a while. Right after the makeover I used to be startled by my own image. Even today when I look like my normal self I hide behind the nearest flower-pot. And then suddenly tell myself, ‘Mona, you don’t have to hide.’ But then there was the upside. Jassi gave me such amazing fame. The serial broke every rule of soap manufacturing. Today there’re so many soaps about middleclass girls.

Q:So what plans for the future'

I was born on October 8. Number 8 people don’t plan anything. Whenever I do it all goes for a toss. I just believe in going with the flow. Immediately after Jassi I need a big break. Even if I do another serial now it can never be as big as Jassi for me. I’ve no plans to do another serial. But I’m doing a film with Bobby Pushkarna.

Q:Do you play an ordinary middleclass girl'

I’m a middleclass girl. But I’m in no way ordinary. It’ll be completely different character and look in the film…. But I don’t get that many offers because lots of people believe I’m still contracted with Sony, which I’m not, after May 2006. We still don’t know when Jassi ends which is a little strange.

Q:A lot of criticism has been levelled at your serial for dragging its feet'

How come no one talks about Kyunki...Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi... dragging on' Sony says Jassi will end soon. Every soap drags after two years.

Q:Are you fearful of the future'

I’m not sure of what else I can do besides Jassi. But I’m not going to burst into an item number just to prove I’m not Jassi in real life. I’ll only do what I’m comfortable with. I hope there’re some good roles written for me. After going through so many personality transferences on Jassi…. I can play a psycho very well (laughs).

Q:What about your romance with Karan Oberoi'

What romance' There’s nothing. I’m too ambitious to get into a relationship.

Q:But the two of you sing songs to each other!

Each other' I sang to the whole crew of Jassi and he happened to be part of it…. Karan is definitely a good pal, just like Nandu is. They can’t link me with Nandu. So they link me with Karan.

Q:Who’s Nandu'

My other costar Gaurav in Jassi. Sorry, I shouldn’t call him Nandu.

Q:Finally, how much have you accumulated in your bank account'

Not even a crore. But I’m a very rich woman in terms of the experience that Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin has offered me. I’m a happy person by nature. No point in doing your work if you don’t enjoy it. Yes, there were times when I didn’t want to shoot, when I wasn’t convinced of what Jassi had to do. Then I’d get a call from the channel saying, ‘Listen this is a daily. Don’t ask questions. Just convince people even if you aren’t convinced.’

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