"I am an actor, so the medium doesn't matter," articulates the latest entrant on tube, Ashima Bhalla whose claim to fame has been a bag of Hindi and regional films. The list includes Na Tum Jaano Na Hum, Pyaar Zindagi Hai, an item number in Hathyar and nine South Indian flicks.
This Shilpa Shetty look-alike (which definitely works in her favour) will mark her debut on the small box courtesy Fox Television Studio's Mera Awaz Ko Mil Gayi Roshani. This musical saga will be taking over the prime time slot on Star Plus from 23rd April which will be vacated by KBC this week.
The show's mellifluous promos showing Sudha (Ashima) crooning on a placid shore raises many a queries in an inquisitive mind about the leading lady. So we head straight to the actor who, in a Q and A, discusses her transition from films to her telly venture.
Can you adumbrate your characterization in Mera Awaz Ko…. How did you bag the role?
As the name suggests, it's a story of a young middle class girl, Sudha, who lands in Mumbai to establish herself as a singer. The show will showcase the entire struggle new singers have to undergo before they strike gold, like auditioning, visit studios etc. Answering to the latter question, the Fox people called me for an audition and look test and soon they delivered the news that I was on. I was given a full narration and also made to hear some melodious songs they had recorded.
Have you lent your voice to any of the songs?
No ways! If I had done so, the whole show would have crashed. I have lip synced two songs till now.
What's the USP of the show? It promises to be quite unlike the usual TV fanfare.
It's not a regular daily family saga. Rather it's an emotional story of relationships and love. Also, as the show is about a singer's journey, we have included a number of original tracks, which will reflect the mood of the show at that given time.
Why did you opt for TV over films?
I was not being offered good roles in movies and most of them demanded a lot of skin show.
Tellywood or Bollywood. Your pick?
I am an actor, so the medium doesn't matter. Having said that it's tougher to do cinema, for you have to win the audience, which is very discerning these days. They will watch a film only after they have read the reviews. Of course the television industry is very industrious, we have to can 8 / 9 scenes a day .Comparatively films have a rather laid back approach. More attention is paid to your look and the over all feel.
You mean you can relate better with your TV audience?
Yes because, they see us day in and out. There is a more scope for them to feel the emotions and traumas we face on screen.
Talking about a character's look, even TV shows these days concentrate on that aspect.
Yes that's true. For my show, I have been given a very hep Indian look. Fox has facilitated me with great designers who have taken pains to give me the right look. They soon to plan to launch a line of Sudha's ensembles and accessories. I really love my look and hope you do too.
It's been a month since your shoot has commenced. How's the affinity with your co-stars been?
I have been fortunate to act with veterans like Shama Desphande and Saleem Shah. My co-actor Karan Grover (of Saarthi fame) is great fun to be with. Since we have a limited number of actors in this project, we have come quite close; it feels almost like a family.
Talking about your own family, you seem to be very attached to them, especially your mom who used to accompany you on film sets. Does she accompany you for this show?
Yes she used to give me company for all my film shoots. But since serials are a different ball game altogether, I don't bring her along anymore. You know something; my mom quit her job to accompany me to Mumbai to fulfill my acting dreams.
Coming back to Meri Awaz….since it's a musical, which other shows based on this genre do you love tuning in to?
I love Sa Re Ga Ma as it has hunted some good and fresh talent. And how can one forget the evergreen Antakshri! One non-musical TV show which has touched me to great lengths is Zee's Astivta. It was superb; you could actually feel for the characters for they were so real.
Other than your maiden show, what else is in the offing?
Let the serial stabilize, later I might look into other options, may be the reality genre. It's too early to talk about it though.