‘I didn’t know TV artistes have so much of struggle. I had no clue.’
‘I thought an actor is an actor because that’s what I’ve seen in the West.’
‘But because of the TV tag, I had to struggle, and that was like an eye opener for me.’
Karishma Tanna is enjoying the success her OTT series Scoop is getting.
The actor gets into the shoes of crime journalist Jigna Vora, who was wrongly jailed in connection with a murder.
Karishma, who has been a part of showbiz for 18 years, will probably give Amitabh Bachchan a run for punctuality.
The phone interview is scheduled for noon, and the phone rings as soon as the clock strikes 12.
“Vidya Balan ma’am took my number and called me the other day. I found that really sweet because that shows how secure an actor you are, and how proud you feel of a fellow actor. I’m the same, you know. Whenever I see any actor or actress doing well, if I don’t have the number, I DM them on Instagram, and say you’ve done such a great job,” Karishma tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com.
What is the best part about playing a crime journalist?
The best part that I got to know and experience so much about journalism because I did not have much of an idea what crime reporters are, what is their work.
I gained a lot of knowledge about journalism.
Director Hansal Mehta said that it was the hunger for your role that worked in your favour during your audition. How important was it for you to bag Scoop?
It was very important because it’s a very strong role, a real story.
There are so many layers to this character. She’s aspirational, ambitious, hungry… and how she balances between her personal and professional life.
She’s a single independent woman, the breadwinner of the family, and then how she goes to the jail… the reporter becomes the reported.
She’s the main female protagonist, you know, what more can one ask?
I’m sure a lot of people would love to play this role because it’s an author-backed role.
Why did you want to be a part of this? Did you want to change your image from a glamorous one to a realistic kind of actor? Did you want to take your career down a particular path?
No, that was not my agenda. My agenda was that I want to perform my best.
The character is very interesting, I would get to perform, to act.
Through my acting, I would be able to make people relate to my character.
And then in that chain, of course, the industry would see me in a different light.
So what did you think of the real Jigna? How much is she like you?
I will not say we are similar. But whatever I saw and heard about her and read about her, she was also very ambitious. She was hungry to be on top.
She was juggling between personal and professional life, and that’s what I do in real life.
I think it’s a story of every independent girl.
It was very surreal meeting her because I’m seeing a live character in front of me, the one I’m playing in front of the camera. I don’t know how to explain, but it was very surreal.
What kind of feedback did you get from the industry after Scoop?
Vidya Balan ma’am took my number and called me the other day. I found that really sweet because that shows how secure an actor you are, and how proud you feel of a fellow actor.
I’m the same, you know. Whenever I see any actor or actress doing well, if I don’t have the number, I DM them on Instagram, and say you’ve done such a great job. I love to appreciate those who have done a fine job in their field.
Anurag Kashyap called me.
So many people have messaged or called me and reached out to me.
You did not have to struggle to get your first break in television. You bagged Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi by chance. When did it start getting tough?
When I thought that I should grow in life, and learn something different.
I didn’t know TV artistes have so much of struggle or that they get stereotyped.
I had no clue.
I thought an actor is an actor because that’s what I’ve seen in the West.
Like Friends, which was the number one TV show back then, you know, Jennifer Aniston became a household name. She became a star in films, but she started from TV. So my mindset was that.
If you’re doing good TV and can act decently, you can get whatever you want if you try.
But because of the TV tag, I had to struggle, and that was like an eye opener for me.
Like, wow, so you get typecast? That’s the mindset the industry had.
I’m talking about 20 years back.
I think that’s changing. Now people have become aware TV artists are equally talented.
The other reason that you had to face rejections was because of your height. You are taller than most Bollywood actors.
(Laughs) Yes, I’m 5’11”.
It used to pinch me, but then I’d be like, okay, maybe it’s not in my destiny.
Everyone faces rejection.
I used to talk to myself, tell myself that maybe something better will come my way, maybe this is not in my destiny, maybe this project was not what I wanted.
You have to talk to yourself otherwise you get in to that dark hole if you keep seeing the negative. You have to see the positive side.
When did you decide you wanted to do more than TV?
Frankly, after some time, I thought there’s nothing left in TV for me because I can’t do a saas-bahu drama. I’d never done it. Even in Kyunki, I’m not the saas or the bahu.
I have done roles where I know when the role ends. I have never done roles which go on prolonging. I need to know where the character ends.
That’s why I did only a few shows in TV, and I got out of it and did reality TV.
After that I had nothing more, so I wanted to grow.
Was doing a film difficult because it’s very different from TV acting?
I’m not done enough films for me to think that.
Where have you seen me in a proper film?
I did only four-five scenes in Sanju.
The experience was very different and good. Rajkumar (Hirani) sir would say I love you in that scene, but it’s all because of the experience I’ve got from TV.
Sanju was meant to be a turning point in your career. But was it really?
It was a small role, a guest appearance. How can a guest appearance be a turning point?
I knew it’s a very big film, a very good setup with Vicky (Kaushal), Ranbir (Kapoor) and Raju (Rajkumar Hirani) sir. And if I get noticed…
So I had a lot of expectations but it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.
I felt a little dejected, but ups and downs are part and parcel of every actor’s life. If there are downs, you enjoy the highs also.
That was a short period of time when I felt aarey, kaam aana chaiya tha, but it’s okay because I never stopped working.
Do you have any regrets?
I mean, I would have been satisfied if I would have done films because I felt I deserved it. But if it’s not there, you’re still okay with it.
I think about Scoop. It’s one of the best shows I’ve ever done, so I’m happy about that.
If you had asked me this question 10 years back, I would have said maybe I wanted to do films.
But if you’re asking me now, I’m okay.
Who are the industry people you have learnt from the most?
Ektaa Kapoor is my mentor. She has always guided me; my first project was with her.
(Casting Director) Mukesh Chhabra gives me a lot of advice and tells me which project to do and not to. He’s like my father figure.
Hansal (Mehta) sir is also my father figure. He gave me a lot of advice.
What are you working on now?
A lot of producers and directors are approaching me, but I have not signed anything.
I’m living in the moment.
I’m enjoying this success.
What does your husband Varun Bangera think about Scoop?
He’s very proud of me. He took my autograph before the show released.
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