Beatific smile and sexy churidars seems to be ruling the roost on Star Plus' late nights. With her ideal daughter act, Aamna Shariff has managed to win over the audience, so much so that they have extended their daily television viewing time by another half an hour.
Coming from a conservative family, it wasn't easy for Shariff to break into the showbiz, but once the ice was broken there was no looking back. Few commercial ads later, she is now plays a protagonist is Balaji Telefilms' new soap on the block.
Although it is her first serial and still in its nascent stages, the spark is evident. May be not in the league of 'Tulsi' and 'Parvati', but Shariff's Kashish seems to be making a mark. indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani met up with the beauty to pick up her brains. Excerpts from the meeting:
How did you land up in the television industry? And don't even think about churning out the cliché statement 'I always wanted to become an actor.'
(Laughs) Sorry, but yes, I always wanted to become an actor. Being from a Muslim background, I met with some resistance from my family members initially. I therefore had to keep my ambition on the backburner for quite sometime. But guess, things started to roll and I had to take a call. So somehow, I managed to convince my parents and here I am today.
And how exactly did your career start?
When I was in my second year of college, I started getting a lot of modeling offers.
The major brands that I have endorsed include Close-up toothpaste, Betel phones, Emami cosmetic cream, Clearsil skin cream, Nescafe's instant coffee, Vatika's hair oil among many others. I have done nearly 50 ads.
That's quite an amount. How did television happen?
Along the line, I did a music video sung by Kumar Sanu- Dil Ka Alam Main Kya Bataun Tujhe. I also did a couple of South films. Guess a lot of people noticed me as I started getting lots of offers to act in serials and Hindi films as well. But no offer had substance, so I had to turn down quite a few.
One fine day I got a call from Balaji Telefilms for Kahiin To Hoga then titled Kashish. I heard my role and realised that I had the biggest role. I was the link between all the characters. I was going to be in almost every frame. How could I refuse such a meaty offer? Ekta called me for the auditions. It took them six months to finalise. I hesitated just a bit before signing on the dotted line. But thank god, I did it.
"There is not an iota of vulgarity in 'Kahiin...'. Importantly, things like premarital sex and unwed motherhood are happening in colleges today, aren't they?"
You had some real mushy scenes with Sujal (Rajeev Khandelwal). Did you feel awkward while enacting those?
Rajeev and I share a wonderful rapport, which is why our on-screen chemistry is so good. I think that should answer your question (smiles).
In the serial, you don't get married to your lover Sujal but rather opt for your father's choice Piyush. What would you do if faced with a similar situation in real life?
I don't think that I would fall in love with some one like Sujal, but if I did I would not leave him. But I would definitely like to marry a guy like Piyush. He embodies everything that a girl wants in a husband; he is charming, sophisticated and loving.
I am a very practical girl, I will asses the guy's qualities before committing myself. I don't think I'll ever fall for a wrong guy.
And what if, like the reel story, one of your younger sisters bears a child out of wedlock?
I would certainly forgive her and even insist that my dad should not to disown her. Human's make mistakes, don't they?
'Kahiin...' has now broken into the top 20 shows. What according to you is the secret of its success?
One, it's a youth-centric serial. So, it is unlike the typical soaps. Considering the fact that a lot of shots have been done on exotic outdoor locales, it has a film feel to it.
Two, the characters have been very strongly sketched. Frankly speaking, we were quite apprehensive in the beginning.
We had been given the 11 pm slot and it isn't easy to make an impact then. Plus, all three of us (Rajeev, Rohit and myself) were new to the medium, so we were unsure if we would be able to pull it off. While Rohit has done some serials like Kahiin Kissii Roz and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, the roles he portrayed were all of a character artiste while this is a lead. We trusted Ekta and it paid off.
"'Kahiin...' is a youth-centric serial. So, it is unlike the typical soaps"
There are some bold love scenes and a near-smooch between Rishi and Mahek in one of the previous shows. Has this helped?
I wouldn't rule it out. These scenes got the people talking about the show. The early word of mouth is very essential. A serial has to create a buzz in the first 13 episodes. It is unreasonable and impractical to expect people to tune in to a daily after 52 episodes.
As for those scenes that you are talking about, full marks to the director Anil Kumar who shot them very aesthetically. There was not an iota of vulgarity in those frames. Importantly, things like premarital sex and unwed motherhood are happening in colleges today, aren't they? We are just holding the mirror.
How did you feel when your dad (Amar Talwar) who looked 55-60 was dropped and a new character who looks barely 40 was taken in his place?
Initially, it was difficult to identify a new person stepping into the shoes of someone who had nearly settled down. But 'kya karen'? 'Hamara kaam hi kuch aisa hai'. Slowly but surely, it's setting in. The new entrant is a good actor. But I still miss Amarji.
I think Nim Sood (Balaji's Fashion Stylist) has been extra generous with you. You have some excellent costumes on the show.
Well, I am very fussy with whatever is sent to me. At times, I have used even my own clothes. I am a very fashion conscious person. There have been instances when I felt I wasn't looking up to the mark or wasn't comfortable with the costumes. I immediately went and changed!
Is it necessary to look good on television? Seems like Jassi is set to erode that belief...
That's because the script of Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin demands so. If the script of Kahiin... has given me an opportunity to look good, why shouldn't I make most of it? I have married into a rich family in the serial and I have the resources to buy the best.
A still from Star Plus' 'Kahiin to Hoga'
"All three of us, Rajeev, Rohit and myself, were new to the medium, so we were unsure if we would be able to pull it off"
You have done cinema too. What is the difference between cinema and television?
One is quite chilled out when it comes to shooting for movies. Television is relatively more taxing and stressful, and therefore more challenging.
In films, an actor does maximum three scenes in a day. In serials, he/she nearly shoots 12 scenes in a day. So you have to be 100 per cent fit while you are shooting. And if you have a plum role in a daily in your kitty, you are shooting nearly three-fourth of a month, which doesn't happen in a film.
Ekta has a penchant to fastforward her serials. Would you remain a part of the serial if 'Kahin...' ever went 20 years ahead in future?
No. I wouldn't like to play so old so early in my career.
Are you under any contract with Balaji Telefilms' that you won't accept any work as long as 'Kahiin...' goes on?
No. I am doing ads, even today. But for some time, I am not going to accept a new serial; I want to concentrate solely on Kahiin....
Have you ever goofed up a scene?
I have to credit the director Anil Kumar for that. He is a young man, so he vibes very well with us. He makes sure that we have understood what he wants. We can vividly read his face. Besides, he makes us rehearse a lot. That helps to eliminate every margin of error.
"I aspire to make a splash in Bollywood"
A still from Star Plus' Kahiin to Hoga
Do you have any formal training in acting?
Well, I haven't had any formal training in acting because I believe that acting is an intrinsic art.
I enjoy my job very much. Touchwood, there has not been a single morning as yet where I got up and groaned. Just looking at myself on the television for four days in a week gives me a terrific high.
Any Bollywood crossovers on the cards?
Yes. I aspire to make a splash in Bollywood.
Will you be comfortable donning revealing costumes and doing passionate scenes?
I can carry off anything. Not an issue. But of course, I have set some limits.