Joined: 04 October 2004
|PRATIM D. GUPTA|
|Mona Singh of Jassi fame looks demure in an Abhishek Dutta outfit. "I wanted to give her a look that is different from her character on the soap," says Dutta. The result is a bridal ensemble in toned-down shades. Picture by Aranya Sen|
Now, I am me," announces Mona Singh, as she sits back and sips a Diet Coke in her hotel room at the Golden Park on Saturday evening. An elaborate photo-shoot later and before shooting off for a jig at the hotel's restobar, Fusion, television's most loved lady came out from behind her braces and spectacles for the first time in the city.
"It's quite amazing — I wasn't even allowed to be at the Calcutta launch of Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin," recalls Mona. "In fact, all across the country everyone was looking for me. 'Who's Jassi?' they would keep asking. Life was so bizarre then. I wasn't even allowed to stay at my own home in Mumbai. The Sony team had me put up at a secret hotel with security guards so that the media wouldn't hound me."
But the Asian Paints commercial was all over television then and Mona found it difficult to hide her real identity. "I had done other advertisements and ramp shows but the timing of the paints ad was too close to the launch of the show. I couldn't say anywhere that I was Mona. I had to be Jassi all the time. The contract with Sony asked me to look and sound the same in real life as I did on the serial. The channel wanted people to believe that I was Jassi."
And so she was and that too without competition. "I was the only girl to be screen-tested for the role," reveals Mona. "The makers wanted a small-town girl from a middle-class background with no television or film experience. I fitted the bill perfectly. I came from Pune and was very, very new to the camera. Incidentally, my real name is Jasmeet. Since my sister's name is Sona, my friends and family have always called me Mona. So I was, kind of, playing myself."
It wasn't easy, however, to slip into the Jassi mode. "I had to keenly watch the tapes of Betty La Fea (Betty, the Ugly One), the Spanish show from which Jassi was adapted. There were special classes held where everything from my body language to my voice modulation were worked upon. I had to have a typical Punjabi accent to go with my character. There is such a thin line between being true to the character and looking funny on screen. I had to be very careful that the serial didn't turn out to be a comedy."
Only after the show aired did Mona realise what she had got herself into. "We were shooting at Jogeshwar in Mumbai and for a particular shot, I had to cross the road in one take since we hadn't taken prior permission. And during the canning of that one shot, the entire traffic came to a halt on the road. Everyone from rickshawallahs to little children to aged aunties was coming up to me. There were people asking me to autograph Rs 500 notes since they didn't have other paper. I then realised, my god, this is really big."
Looking back, Mona can now pinpoint what exactly made Jassi the biggest thing on the small screen and made the 10-year-old Sony Entertainment Television the second-most popular satellite channel in the country. "The Indian television and film industry never had such an ugly looking protagonist. Now, most women in our country are not good looking. And here was Jassi, who was totally plain Jane but so very ambitious. People could really identify with the character. I had initially thought that the popularity would just be limited to the north. But even in places like Calcutta and Bangalore, the show became a rage. I remember how I got completely mobbed at the Calcutta Book Fair. I feared that the newspaper reports next day would say, 'Jassi creates stampede.'"
But did the magic makeover from Jassi to Jessica backfire? "It was always coming. The Sony people were teasing the audiences throughout and waiting for the right turning point in the storyline. People have had mixed reactions to the change. There have been people who have liked the makeover and there have been others who haven't approved of the transformation. Ladies have messaged me saying how their daughters are trying to look good after seeing me change. I think, once my family accepts me on the show, audiences will accept the change in a bigger way."
Mona is happy, though. "The feeling now is amazing. All that lying to everyone was exciting and a one-of-a-kind experience but I am a lot more free now. I do not have to run from the media anymore. I can tell everyone that I am Mona Singh. However, it does take a lot more time for make-up now. To be Jassi, all I had to do was wear those huge spectacles, fit the braces and get a darkish tone. Now I have to wear eye-lashes and mascara and so many other things," she laughs.
So is the new look an invite to the big banners in Bollywood? "Films are more hero-oriented unlike television where women have a presence," feels Mona. "Although the scenario is changing fast, at the end of the day, Bollywood is for heroes. There have been offers from many new producers and directors who want me to play Jassi even in the film medium. But if I do get into films, I would like to do something as challenging and as dramatic as Jassi was to television. So, I am ready to wait for the right offers to come in."
But will the Sony contract allow her to venture elsewhere? "I am about to renew my contract with the channel and I will add those clauses this time. I would love to stay with the channel since Sony has used me as its face. And so is our fate, that my birthday is on the same day as that of the Sony anniversary — October 8. So we cut the cake together every year," smiles Mona.
What about rumours of Jessica becoming Jassi again to woo back the lost audiences and TRPs? "That's something I don't know yet. Maybe Sony is thinking on those lines. The best thing about the serial is that it really moves very fast. I entered Gulmohar House on episode number 332 and by episode 336, I know everything that's happening around the place. So whatever happens will happen soon."
With so many big names (read Ronit Roy, Rajeev Khandelwal) leaving their television avatars, any chances of someone else becoming Jassi? "Inshallah, no. I don't think replacing actors works. Maybe with time it will but it's not that easy for someone new to register with the audiences. Also, I can't imagine anybody else as Jassi," comes the honest confession.
And what about her personal armaan? "There is a lot of time for marriage. And I am not seeing anybody since we would invariably end up fighting. Also, I hardly have any time — I am shooting 30 days a month." Take that!
Joined: 02 February 2005
Joined: 01 January 2005
Joined: 15 January 2005
Jassi and Armaan are going to look soo chweet when they get married!!!
And thanks for the article!
Joined: 14 February 2005
Joined: 30 November 2004
Maheen,you will live on in our hearts
Joined: 09 January 2005
Shilpa needs a makeover-article
Author: kajol12 Replies: 23 Views: 1731
|kajol12||23||1731||28 November 2007 at 5:16pm by -Payal-|
Wish it had been this way after makeover
Author: thesaint148 Replies: 9 Views: 923
|thesaint148||9||923||16 October 2007 at 1:10am by thesaint148|
DOTW:Makeover:Was it really needed?
Author: Ambrosia Replies: 20 Views: 1808
|Ambrosia||20||1808||05 October 2007 at 1:16pm by Hansa-Tapori|
Which one? Pre-makeover or Post makeover?
Author: sharna2k6 Replies: 19 Views: 1325
|sharna2k6||19||1325||28 September 2007 at 10:27pm by thesaint148|
Makeover before the makeover
Author: Daisy Replies: 17 Views: 1907
|Daisy||17||1907||12 March 2005 at 9:49pm by **lil_playa**|
And he will be seen playing a psychiatrist..
The lady is giving out strong Bohemian vibes!
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