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Namrata Sheth on Karmma Calling: ‘I was ready to do whatever was needed to play Karma Talwar’

Starring Raveena Tandon as an actress-turned-socialite, Karmma Calling is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 22.02.24, 05:10 PM
Namrata Sheth

Namrata Sheth Instagram

For a young actor to play a title role that involves matching Raveena Tandon step for step comes with a lot of challenges and Namrata Sheth — or, Karma in the Disney+Hotstar show Karmma Calling — hopes she has aced it. Previously seen in the courtroom drama Guilty Minds, Namrata spoke to us about working on Karmma Calling, facing Raveena Tandon and her aspirations.

How does it feel to headline your first project — Karmma Calling on Disney+ Hotstar?


Namrata Sheth: It feels surreal. Guilty Minds (Prime Video) was released in April 2022, and it was super special for me because it was my first show. When you start out wanting to be an actor, you’re waiting for that opportunity that puts you on the map so that you’re noticed and things like that. While Guilty Minds gave me a little recognition, I was hoping that I’d get something that I could call my own, start to finish.

Getting that opportunity is extremely difficult when you’re not from the industry. You have to wait for somebody else to have faith in you, and that’s what happened with Karmma Calling. It felt crazy that something that I was wishing for materialised out of nowhere.

I got an email saying they were testing for the show. After a couple of rounds of auditions, I met director Ruchi Narain. I think she was very convinced when she met me that I could be this character. It also felt very nerve-wracking because when you’re wishing for something, you don’t know if it’ll happen and then suddenly it happens. Then the anxiety of it also hits you a little; now the actual work starts. It was a mix of slight surrealness, disbelief, excitement and nervousness.

You said that Ruchi Narain had faith in you. What was your first interaction with her like?

Namrata Sheth: I met her at her office and we had a casual chat. I told her that I was a big fan of the original show (Revenge) and that I loved this character. I knew that Ruchi was meeting a bunch of people. I felt like I had to kind of sell myself in a way like I was ready to do whatever was needed to play this character. And I think just after that meeting, my casting director messaged saying they had liked me and wanted to test me again. Later on during our conversations, Ruchi told me that she knew that I was very nervous in our first meeting.

Karmma Calling is an adaptation of the American show Revenge in the present day Indian context. What did you like about Karma Talwar aka Ambika Mehra?

Namrata Sheth: I loved the fact that she’s a girl with a plan and she executes them one after another. She’s focused. She has layers to her character. There’s so much that has happened in her life that has brought her here. I love that she’s a badass. Her strength was really exciting for me to tap into.

Was there anything that you didn’t like about your character?

Namrata Sheth: I don’t think there’s anything that I did not like. Certain things were challenging to imbibe because of the way the character is. There’s a lot of grief that she carries, which shows in the way she interacts with people. She is trying to manipulate the people around her. There is a wall and harshness in the way she operates. It was challenging to keep trying to find the vulnerability in that harshness.

Were you nervous while facing Raveena Tandon in front of the camera?

Namrata Sheth: There was nervousness because you are acting opposite somebody who is vastly experienced. Everybody else among our cast is relatively new, fresh. We kind of felt like we were all on the same boat. But when it came to acting opposite Raveena ma’am, there was that sense of awe. I wanted to make sure that I could live up to the expectations.

If we had shown up on set straightaway, there would have been a lot more nervousness. But because Ruchi ensured that there were readings and Raveena ma’am would be there for all the readings, the comfort level sort of built up over time. So, when we started shooting we knew each other well enough that it became a professional working environment rather than a stressful one.

Since Karma Talwar is manipulating almost every character, did you keep a distance from your co-actors to remain detached?

Namrata Sheth: Initially, Ruchi wanted me to stay away from everybody and be in a certain zone and we did that for a bit. In the process I realised that I operate better when there is a sense of openness with the people I am working with. It’s okay that we are not supposed to be best friends on screen, but I think I function better and I am able to give it my hundred per cent when I am interacting with everybody and letting our energies exchange. When I am kept away and when I build a wall, I think that does hamper me. I enjoy getting to know my co-actors, rehearsing with them, talking to them. I feel that we are able to find things in a scene together. I enjoy the collaborative space a lot more. It helps me to thrive on a set.

You must have had to internalise a lot of conflict because not everything is shown in the show. Was there anything in particular that was challenging for you?

Namrata Sheth: I think that internalisation happened organically because we did so much emotional prep. I am not the kind of actor who likes to take that baggage home but it was stuck somewhere inside me… that emotional heaviness. I did feel like it trickled into my normal life. I didn’t feel like going out and meeting my friends that often. I was a little less social and talkative.

Subconsciously, it did start to affect me but I didn’t fight it because it was happening organically. It was challenging sometimes because I was constantly feeling that sense of heaviness. But I gladly accepted it because it was a big opportunity for me. I enjoyed the process of finding the character, so it was a small price to pay.

Have you noticed any change in the way people from the industry approach you after the show released?

Namrata Sheth: No, not particularly. The change that has happened is that whoever has watched the show recognise me more. In terms of the industry, I still have a lot to prove. What you have seen in Karmma Calling is only a small fragment of what I am capable of. I am hoping that the opportunities keep coming so that I can keep proving myself to the filmmakers and the people.

I hope Karmma Calling gives me the credibility for somebody to take another chance on me. Today it’s all about fitting a role. I know that I’ll have to test for a role and prove myself again. I want to be known as a credible actor.

What kind of cinema do you want to be associated with?

Namrata Sheth: I admire many filmmakers in our country who have made incredible films. I want to be a part of the stories they choose to tell. These days it doesn’t matter how big a part is or what scale the film is on. If it’s a good story, it transcends all of that. My main focus is to just find a story and find people who can challenge me and push me and help me kind of find other aspects of myself.

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