'I feel like a queen'

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By Mili Swarnakar (Bollywood News Service)
  • Published 14.07.09

The TV serial Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur (Sony, Mon-Thurs, 8pm) is being shot on the sets of Jodhaa Akbar. And the young girl portraying Rani is an arresting beauty. Here’s getting up close and personal with Tejaswini Lonari

How old are you?

I’m 19 years old.

As a teenager, how do you project the aura of a queen?

Rani Padmini was young too. I feel so much like a queen. Rani Padmini is a part of me now. Nitin Sir (producer Nitin Chandrakant Desai) and his team are there to help me. The scenes are so beautiful that I only have to act.

Where are you from?

I’m from Pune and was doing my graduation when I got this show. I wanted to be an actress from my childhood, even though no one in my family has ever acted. After Standard 12, I wanted to work and shifted to Mumbai to pursue my dream. I trained with Kishore Namit Kapoor. I came to know that Nitin Sir was making a show on Rani Padmini….

…and you auditioned for it?

There was a series of auditions and look tests. From what I know, some 120 girls were auditioned and out of them 20 were shortlisted.

That must have felt good...

I always felt that I could never be a part of the saas-bahu shows. This is something which I liked. Why should I not choose to be a part of all this grandeur? I’m loving everything that is happening to me. I have always been a shy person. The show has been a life-changing experience for me. This is my first shooting experience... so I am very energetic and whatever hard work I could put in, I have.

What kind of training have you undergone for this role?

We trained for around six months. I learnt horse-riding, sword-fighting, different forms of dance and diction. Actually, the training is still on. I keep learning new things on the sets everyday.

Have you done your own stunts?

I have done all my stunts myself. I’m scared of heights and these people put me on a 30-ft harness crane. I will never forget that in my life. I get goose bumps when I think about it.

How much did you know about Rani Padmini before you began this show?

There was only one page in our history books about Rani Padmini and her johur. So I knew only that much. My mother knew a lot about her and gave me a brief, but after signing the show I learnt so much more about her. Nitin Sir and his team provided me with all the information that helped me play the character.

Is Nitin Desai a taskmaster?

He is a very hard taskmaster, very strict. He knows what he wants.

The shooting schedules for television are hectic. How are you coping?

We are shooting day and night but I have to look good so I get a lot of rest and am pampered. I don’t slog all the time.

Your jewellery and costumes look really elaborate. How do you manage to shoot with them?

I got used to it during the look tests. Neeta Lulla has given me such pretty clothes. The jewellery is real gold!

So what happens to your college now?

They were sweet to let me go during my exams.

Do you miss your family?

I’m living in Karjat (where the set of the show is) and my mother also accompanies me. I’m sure she must be missing the rest of the family (laughs).

Your looks are being compared to that of Rani Mukerji’s...

She is my favourite actress. I wish people would compare my acting to her performances (laughs).

What is Tejaswini like in real life?

Aisi hi hoon… sachchi.