Joined: 21 July 2007
I can do justice to Gehna's role
It's 3.30 pm as we call up Neha Marda, who checks-in her baggage at Kolkata Airport. Soon she's mobbed by fans who line-up to take autographs and click pictures with their Gehna. After stepping into the nation's number one show Balika Vadhu, the 21-year-old must start getting used to such scenes.
"It's almost unreal. I never imagined people queuing up to take my autograph. I'm not used to this kind of fanfare thus it's a bit embarrassing too," says Neha before telling us to call in five minutes as she needs to oblige her fans. Through the next hour and half, we continue to have such intermittent conversations. Neha apologises at every interval but luckily we wind up the interview minutes before she's boards the aircraft.
From being a Rajkumari you've now been reduced to the pauper Gehna of Balika Vadhu. That's quite a transformation.
"Yes, it's a complete transformation. Gehna is entirely different to Rajkumari Priyamvada of Ek Thi Rajkumari. However, I always knew that I can do justice to Gehna's role. After clearing the auditions, I took part in a lot of acting workshops as enacting such a role has its own challenge.
Did the exposure in Ek Thi Rajkumari enable you to bag this role?
Well, after watching me in Balika, most viewers felt that they'd seen me somewhere but couldn't recollect the show. Ek Thi Rajkumari forged that connectivity but it's Balika Vadhu that has given me all the exposure. After all, here I am being mobbed by fans at the airport. People across the country are watching the show and wherever I've travelled they have instantly recognized me. Gehna is a character which the viewers can relate to.
Is it tough to enact such a role?
It's very, very tough. Firstly, there's no way that you can't relate to such a character in your real life. After all, there's no way that I can be marrying someone double my age. Gehna is an extremely shy and frightened girl. They wanted to completely mould me into my character. Thus our director (Siddharth Sengupta) kept me at bay from the rest of the cast. I was given a separate room and wasn't allowed to speak to anyone when off camera. It's been stressful but the output has been fine.
How is it to face up to a power performer like Surekha Sikri?
It's scary to say the least. As a viewer, I was amazed with the way Avika stood up to Surekha. Then I never imagined that one day I too would be doing the same. As an actor, Surekha has an aura around her which really shakes others up. Initially, I was scared to death to face up to her. On the first day of the shoot, I wasn't given any lines and was left to face to Surekha. I was worried that I would fumble. Luckily for me my first few episodes didn't require me to talk at all but involved mere expressions.
The situation isn't much different off camera too. My interactions with her are limited to mere greetings.
What about you on-screen husband Basant (Satyajit)?
Satyajit is an extremely intelligent guy. Hr's an amazing person to interact with. He'll have an answer to each and every query. Satyajit is entirely different to Basant. Smita Bansal is like family always sharing her experiences and Anoup is always smiling.
Apparently, the Gehna-Dadi sa tussle is now making Balika Vadhu look like a typical saas vs bahu show.
No, Balika Vadhu is not a saas-bahu saga. It's about women rights. It's depicts tales of how women are exploited. Gehna has become a kind of a messenger to the public, a voice against discrimination. That's just the way the story is panning out and thus it would be wrong to label Balika Vadhu a saas bahu show.
How's your equation with Avika?
Avika and I gel really well with each other. Together, we indulge in a lot of fun. We play Ludo, cards and it's like a returning to innocence for me. Avika always has a question which is difficult to answer. Often, she'd asked me why is that I'm always crying in the show and applying glycerin. All, I do is tell her that she's a kid and will learn later.
Has Gehna now taken over Anandi as the new face of Balika Vadhu?
It's absolutely wrong to say this. Nobody takes over anybody. The show is not about Anandi or Gehna. Balika Vadhu depicts the different phases of child marriage. At the moment, it's Gehna who is the Balika in question. Earlier, it was Anandi. But that doesn't mean that I've taken over from Avika. Every character needs to support each other and that's how you make a successful show.
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