"I believe that acting has to be spontaneous"
Until yesterday, she was struggling real hard to make her presence felt in tinsel town. Even 'Prem Aggan' and 'Mann' didn't do any good for her flagging career. You might have seen her in Pardesi Re, Ansh, Patth and a controversial movie with Faisal, which was based on the sensitive Godhra riots, but did not see the limelight. Yet, the determined Rajasthani girl refused to give up and stood by her decision. Hailing from a middle class Muslim family from Rajasthan, Shama decided to choose the unlikely path of glamour to fulfil her father's ambition of her becoming a film star. The girl has easily got into the shoes of Pooja (as Pooja is also a middle class girl with dreams of becoming a big director as big as her role model Karan Johar)
Tell us something about Shama?
Shama is the flame that burns for others. My grandfather gave me this name & said I would bring light to others. He felt some day I will be famous and people will recognise me. I think that is working out. My family moved from Rajasthan to Mumbai when I was barely ten years old. At first I never liked Mumbai but gradually I started liking it and now I cannot move out of Mumbai.
How did films happen?
I have literally grown watching films! I remember we shifted to Bombay because all my dad's clientele was based here. Dad had a marble business and his main clients were film stars. We started interacting with them, saw their lifestyle and were bowled over by glamour et al. It was then that my dad decided that he wanted me in films. I was too young then. He put me in Baby Naaz's acting classes. We didn't know about the hard path until we started to search for a good role. There is a big difference between looking at it from a distance and actually feeling it. But honestly speaking, I've really been very lucky. Since my family was there with me all the time, I was not really insecure and desperate to make it big. So, I didn't go through 'tough' and 'dark' routes. My parents always used to go with me to every producer's office but may be that also could be the reason why I didn't get too many films.
How about 'Yeh Meri Life Hai'?
I was getting a few film offers, while I was contemplating on those, Vipul D Shah came up with this serial and narrated the story to me. I liked it and decided to try my hand at television. I knew Vipul D Shah since long. He had been offering me roles but I had been turning them down. I always thought that once you get into television, you needed to dedicate all your time. I wasn't very comfortable with that. But, thankfully, I looked at it from a different perspective when he came to me with YMLH. I am just playing myself in the soap. Like Pooja, I come from a middle-class background and have had my share of struggles as an actor. The only difference is that Shama wants to be an actor while Pooja wants to be a director. What I needed to add to my act was a bit of Gujju (Gujrati) accent.
You are not a Gujju. So, how did you go about adopting the accent?
The accent came naturally to me. Most of the YMLH unit is Gujarati and I know many Gujaratis on a personal front as well. All I had to do was to observe them. Also, I have also studied Gujarati for a year in school. My grandfather used to go to Gujarat, dad had lots of friends there. It wasn't difficult to manage.
But we don't see Gujrati college girls (brought up in Mumbai) speaking with such a prominent accent…
(Interrupts) I don't agree with you at all. I know of Gujju girls in Mumbai, who have studied in English medium schools, and yet speak in a Gujju accent. And don't forget, Pooja (my character) is from a Gujrati medium school.
Is there any similarity in Pooja and Shama?
There is hardly any difference between Pooja and Shama as both of them are from middle class families. Both have big dreams in their eyes and their family equally protects them. Rasiklal is really like my father, who always knows when I am hiding things from him or when I am unhappy. Another similarity is that both don't like to hurt anyone. I can never lie for a long time.
Do you think 'YMLH' has 'really' worked?
Yes, I think YMLH has 'really' worked. People started relating Pooja with their daughters, Post YMLH; people have started relating to me. Several ladies come up to me and say that they want their daughter to be like me, even young girls come to me saying they want to be like me. It's such a victory, especially if and when it happens in metros.
Till date, not a single person has come up to me and told me that they dislike the show. There are girls like Annie, who harass people for no reason, there are girls like Pooja, and there are fathers like Rasiklal Mehta. Other serials seem like dreams. Our protagonists are so human; they make mistakes but are brave enough to correct them. Why to go anywhere my dad behaves the same as Rasiklal who is very protective about his daughter.
Aren't you interested in doing some other serials?
I don't want to do more than one serial at a time. I want to do good work and take adequate rest. I don't want to strain myself for 30 days in a month and start looking haggard. I am already shooting for 20-25 days in a month. Plus I am contracted to Sony. I also want to give time to my family and myself.
Are you a method actor?
Do I seem so? (Smiles) No. I believe that acting has to be spontaneous; I can never do methodical acting. I like to do even dramatic scenes naturally.
Do you fear that you may now be typecast in similar plain roles?
No I don't think so. In fact I have already done glamorous roles in my movies and people have seen me. Very soon you can see me in a little different look in YMLH. I think only the media continues to speculate that such and such actor will not be able to do any other role.
How is the atmosphere on the set?
Oh! it is really fantastic, people help each other. We are like one big family and we have no ego and we get to learn many things, as there are many senior artists who help us in many ways.
As a viewer and even as an actor, how much does a channel matter. Would 'YMLH' have done better had it been on Star?
I wouldn't like to comment on this. Star is a different channel altogether. The shows that are ruling the TRPs have been on air since three-four years, Sony is a totally different platform. A daily soap's growth is gradual. And I have seen so many people shift from Star to Sony because of our show. They say it is fresh, not like the same old Saas Bahu stuff. It is a very realistic show.
Do you feel a bit problematic while delivering dialogues for YMLH, where as films are a different media.
I never had any problems with the dialogues.
Wouldn't you prefer if you were given your dialogues before hand?
Who wouldn't? But it's okay. I don't know the dialogues in advance, but the changes in the screenplay for the next 20-30 episodes are told to me. I know the graph- what route the serial will be charting in the future.
Does 'YMLH' have a definite length or is it one of those never-ending types?
It depends on how people react to it as the days roll by. I relate with YMLH and can easily get into the skin of the character. When it comes to doing roles where I won't be able to relate myself to real life situations, I'll see what is to be done. If the actor is good and he/she gets an opportunity, he/she can definitely excel. It's just that the shows go on for a long time and that leaves an actor with very little time to do more shows.
If you get any skin showing roles in movies will you be ready to do (eg. Mallika, Meghna, Neha Dhupia kind)
(Smiles) That's precisely the reason why I am very choosy. In films, I want to do something meaningful, nice and decent roles. May be that's why I never got many film offers.
Any amount of space would not be enough to pen them. I dream big, I have the whole world in front of me. But presently nothing is worked out.