The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎIím not going to burst into an item number just to prove Iím not Jassi in real lifeí


No, donít call me that any more. Iím Mona...Iíve to find my own identity now. Itís been three years (laughs uncomfortably)! I was zapped mentally. Imagine telling people all the time that I wasnít 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 ĎJassií 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 Jassiís makeover to happen. Then Iíd at least look like myselfÖ. I had become like Clark Kent, waiting to be Superman. I used to keep repeating to myself, ĎJassi isnít me and Iím not Jassi.í In the morning when Iíd wake up my hands would automatically go to my face to look for the wig, the glassesÖ. When Jassiís makeover happened in Mauritius I couldnít act! I needed the ĎJassií props (braces, wig, etc) to emote. I forgot my dialogues! I was assured by my costar Veerendra Saxena (who plays my father) that Iíd 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, ĎMona, you donít have to hide.í But then there was the upside. Jassi gave me such amazing fame. The serial broke every rule of soap manufacturing. Today thereíre so many soaps about middleclass girls.

Q:So what plans for the future'

I was born on October 8. Number 8 people donít 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. Iíve no plans to do another serial. But Iím doing a film with Bobby Pushkarna.

Q:Do you play an ordinary middleclass girl'

Iím a middleclass girl. But Iím in no way ordinary. Itíll be completely different character and look in the filmÖ. But I donít get that many offers because lots of people believe Iím still contracted with Sony, which Iím not, after May 2006. We still donít 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'

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

Q:What about your romance with Karan Oberoi'

What romance' Thereís nothing. Iím 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 itÖ. Karan is definitely a good pal, just like Nandu is. They canít link me with Nandu. So they link me with Karan.

Q:Whoís Nandu'

My other costar Gaurav in Jassi. Sorry, I shouldnít call him Nandu.

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

Not even a crore. But Iím a very rich woman in terms of the experience that Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin has offered me. Iím a happy person by nature. No point in doing your work if you donít enjoy it. Yes, there were times when I didnít want to shoot, when I wasnít convinced of what Jassi had to do. Then Iíd get a call from the channel saying, ĎListen this is a daily. Donít ask questions. Just convince people even if you arenít convinced.í

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