She is pleasing to talk to!! She spreads a ray of positivity with her beaming smile and persona!! When you talk to her, you will sense a positive aura around you, and this will certainly make you beam in delight. She’s the beautiful and extremely soft-spoken Ridhi Dogra for you all!!
Ridhi has come a long way ever since we saw her in shows like Hindi Hai Hum, Seven etc. She emerged as a great performer in her challenging avatar in Maryada Lekin Kab Tak, and went on to showcase great acting skills with Savitri.
The actress is now making a comeback to fiction with Siddharth Malhotra’s show on Zee TV, Woh Apna Sa.
What’s really interesting about this comeback vehicle of Ridhi is that she has shed her positive image and has gone on to drape herself in an avatar which is totally grey-shaded.
In an exclusive interview with Tellychakkar.com, Ridhi talks about her experiences of life, her comeback and on her different role in Zee TV’s Woh Apna Sa.
What is it that enticed you to take up the role in Woh Apna Sa?
I have been purposely keeping away from the daily soaps as I wanted to do something very different. If you see, I have not done a daily after Savitri. If you ask me the reason for it, I will say that in the past couple of years post Savitri, I have gone through a lot of changes as a person and in the way I look at things.
When Siddharth (Malhotra) called me for this role, I was really kicked about it. I have played the positive, quintessential characters so far, and to play the negative character, excited me. It was always in my mind to play a negative and flawed character. But I had never got such a role. The manner in which it has been written, conceived and executed by Siddharth is something very different. The best part of it is that he wants to keep it subtle and not showcase her as the typical TV vamp who is loud. I am happy that I have got this part. I have never been happier on a set as I am now. I am enjoying playing the genuinely flawed character with so many shades.
When you select a role, do you look for something in the character that is ‘you’?
Never!! I have never looked for roles which are like me. If you have followed my past work, you will see that in Hindi Hai Hum, I played a girl who never knew English when I know English. In Maryada, I played the girl who had issues after getting molested. When I did Savitri, it was a fantasy role where I played a warrior princess, and nothing about it was me.
So will you ever want to play a role that is like you?
Not at all!! I feel so boring to play what I am. First of all, I don’t have myself fixed in a box. And it is so difficult to play yourself, as you keep changing as a person constantly. If there is ever a story which is like me, I will want to play me better than myself.
You have always gelled well in a team, in your earlier works. How is it with the team of Woh Apna Sa?
The team is fantastic. And if you ask me, it is very important for me to work with a passionate team. I don’t know why, maybe that’s because I am so lazy. I will only be pushed to work if I know that the people who are making it are really kicked about it. When Siddharth talked about the character, I saw the passion with which he was making the show. I thought I would be a fool to let go of the character. I have really gone with Siddharth’s passion. And you are right that I choose to work with a team which is passionate. I don’t want to work for the heck of it.
Otherwise, I have a lot of things to do when I am off work. I was happy doing my ads, and play. I host a travel and lifetime show on NDTV Good Times. I was happy in my own zone, and I never missed doing a daily. It was nice to make my own identity outside of a daily soap.
How different are you as a person now?
Times have changed so much and I have really evolved as a person. The last time I was on a set doing a daily soap, I was very different. My whole world was about my show, my character and how people respond to it, how I need to take it ahead etc. I was very serious about everything. But the gap that I got and for all the months and years that I worked on myself, I have actually begun to see myself as a small spot in a big life. There is so much more to life than what we do. The minute I got this understanding and feeling, and started operating from that point, it has been very easy for me to enjoy what I do, go with the flow, to be in the moment and not think about what’s gone and what is to come. I like working with people who are passionate and live in the moment. That’s why I want to be with people who make the moment work for you.
Tell us how you gel with your co-actor Ssudeep Sahir?
I have shot a lot with Ssudeep. He is a very disciplined actor and he pushes me to do better. You work with different people, and different people bring different things to the table. He is a focused actor, prepares himself and I appreciate that. When I see him pushing himself, it helps me too. It’s amazing.
What about Producer Siddharth Malhotra?
Siddharth is great. He’s always on call when I want to discuss anything on the character. The best part is that he is on the same page with me with respect to the character. He’s always thinking about the betterment of the show.
My approach to work is very different now. I am making a comeback after many years. For me, it’s not a second innings. I am a different person. My approach is different now. I want to do good work and don’t care about what people think. I am happy being with happy people.
How do you feel when people tell you that you were not the first choice for the role in Woh Apna Sa?
Not at all. Even if I was the fifth or fiftieth person to be approached for the show, it does not affect me. Savitri was the only show when I was the first choice. I remember Raqesh (husband Raqesh Vashisht) look tested with so many girls, that he went crazy. This is how TV is. What I bring to the table is what I bring, and it is what they want. So it does not matter how much happened before you. It is a waste of energy and I will want to concentrate on my work.
Is there a spiritual angle to your change as a person?
See, I am constantly trying to be a good person. Yes, I have gone on a spiritual path; I did reiki, went for vipasana. I did dance therapy. Dance therapy course was to become a psychologist. Basically, I like to do different things in my life apart from acting. I love acting but that’s not the end of life. I want to travel, do all the things that I have been doing in my life. To be able to do something meaningful with an expression is amazing.
Tell us more about your spiritualistic thoughts…
Well, I did the three months dance therapy course in Bangalore which was amazing. It helped me become stronger from within. When I say, I have come back stronger, that’s what I mean. I am calmer now, more balanced. I don’t take everything to heart. I don’t let one part of my life become my entire life. Spiritualism has taught me to be humble. No matter what situation you are in, you need to stay calm and to appreciate what you have. Everything changes, and as long as you are happy, and you give out happiness, all is fine. Honestly speaking, I want to give out as much of happiness as I can to everyone around me. Now that I have come back and working, I really hope people appreciate my work. I really want to give out positive energy to people who are around me, to people who like me, to people who watch me. There is a shortage of happiness in today’s world. We live in such a difficult time. I believe that we as actors who are part of the visual medium, have that power in us to touch people’s lives. We constantly feel the need to do something when we see all that is happening around the world. The terrorist attacks, the clashes, everything makes us feel very helpless. You read about it and feel bad. I genuinely feel you can bring about a change if you start with yourself. If you genuinely set out to give out positive energy, it will have ripple effect. It will at least go down to a chain of people who need you. Believe me, that is my whole aim in life now. Whatever I do in life, my job, my acting and profession, I just want to be able to reach out to as many people and give out positivity. I want to give out happiness.
Wonderful!! Do you and Raqesh complement each other in the way you think?
We surely do. It’s all his thoughts in any way. For the past few years that we have been out of limelight, we have sensed the need to give back to the world. To be honest and blunt, there are few actors who get into a bubble and start feeling that the whole world consists of only them. If you ask me and about the people I move with, I can tell you that I choose to surround myself with people who choose to spread positivity. I will give you the names of my friends and you will know all of them are so like me. Ravi (Dubey), Rithvik (Dhanjani), Asha (Negi), Sargun (Mehta), Sanaya (Irani), Barun (Sobti) and my brother Akshay (Dogra) are people who give a lot to people around. So frankly speaking, I and Raqesh stayed away from the bubble for few years to understand what it takes to spread happiness. Raqesh always wants to do something for people. He has seen the highs and lows. He’s seen massive highs, and from that has gained his own perspective. I am only talking about what he feels. Life is not about being happy in the bubble we create. There has to be something more to life, wherein we have to give back.
Raqesh’s sister once told us, ‘Find something that you love doing. Find something that the society wants of you, and find something that you want to give to the society. Later, merge these three things for life to get fruitful’. It’s an amazing thought. If you can think bigger, then why not? We have dreams and our own minds. So why not use it in the positive way? The world needs people to be happy.
What do you have to say about this second innings of yours?
See, I am not playing an antagonist just because I have been out of choices. I got asked by a journo whether an actor has shelf life. I understood what the person was hinting. I told the person that I am not a 19 years or 20 years old. I cannot be so good always. I want to play a flawed character and put soul to it. On paper, my character is mean and nasty. But it is my job to put soul into her. I took up this role too. I am not playing an antagonist just because I have been out of choices. I want to show her in a way where you feel she has something in her. I want viewers to root for the bad, and this is my personal challenge. I have come to work to do that. This is an exciting phase for me. And it has nothing to do with shelf life, age etc. Trust me, even if I was a very dumb bimbette, I would still want to play the protagonist. Having said this, I am very scared about this role. If it was of a protagonist as I have always played, I would not have been this apprehensive. This is a different feeling altogether. Trust me when I say this, the way in which I spring out of bed every morning to reach my set is amazing. I have never had this kind of attitude before. You will not believe, recently I had a day’s off in Woh Apna Sa as I had to shoot for my NDTV Good Times show. However, the shoot there got cancelled. I immediately called my set people and told them that I was free and that I could come if they have any scene. This is the eagerness I have to go on the set of Woh Apna Sa. Not that I have not been sincere with my other shows of the past, but this is awesome.
With you and Raqesh being busy with work, how do you give time for each other?
Well, we have had the longest break possible. So we have not missed anything. Even now, we take time-offs. When we choose to do good work, we don’t miss anything else. He’s also an actor, so he understands things better. At night after our pack-ups, we do sit down and talk. We don’t discuss work as it is the new rule set in our house. We do talk if we perform something interesting. But most of our talk is on the world around us. As of now, work is priority for us. I am really enjoying my work. I am wondering why I did not take up an antagonist role before. Having said this, I might not even do another role like this because I have taken up this role purely based on Siddharth’s vision. I have full faith in him.
Ridhi, we wish you all the best!!