"My 'death' has created a sensation - it was a blessing in disguise"

Amarr Upadhyay aka Mihir Virani's 'death' in 'Kyunki...' brought Mumbaiites on the streets. Morchas were held outside Balaji Telefilms' office, while inside, the telephones never stopped ringing. Ashlesha Savant's 'death' in the same serial this week has not created that hysteria, but sent each one of us numb with sorrow.

How can a young, pregnant 21-year old die when she has hardly tasted not tasted life? But Ekta Kapoor would probably defend the move with 'it happens in real life, doesn't it?'

Anyway, the time is right to catch up with Ashlesha. She is shooting at Goregaon when I call her up for an appointment. "You could make it anytime until 10.30 pm today. I am shooting in Studio No.11," she says. A little before 9 pm, we are sitting in a make-up van, talking about the turns her life has taken thus far….

Excerpts from a chat with
Vickey Lalwani.


How did you get into television?

I am from Pune. My dad is in the Air Force. After my twelfth standard, I got into local modelling for about a year. Then I started training for the Gladrags contest. During that time, Balaji's auditions were happening in Pune. I went to the auditions for a lark. They shortlisted me for Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat. This was last year. I had to shift to Mumbai bag and baggage. I was told that I would be required here for at least four months.

I came here, but the KHKH shoot did not happen due to some reason. Then, Ekta informed me that she was keen to cast me in Kyunki... (Star Plus) and Kammal (Zee TV) if I was game. I grabbed both offers.


What happened to your education?

I have not finished it as yet. I am doing my T.Y.B.Com this year.

"Balaji is an extraordinary production house. It briefs you about the character from day one in absolute detail"

And the Gladrags contest?

Once I got into the Balaji serials, I was under a one-year contract with them. So Gladrags took a backseat (smiles).


What was your parents' reaction when you decided to make a splash into the glamour world?

Both of them have supported me, through thick and thin. In fact, my mother came down with me and left only after settling me here.


Are you staying all alone?

Why are you so surprised? It's great to be strong and independent, isn't it?


How did you react when you were told that you had to die in 'Kyunki...'?

Firstly, let me tell you that I was well informed in advance that Teesha was going to be a small portrayal. She was never a typical bahu. She was from Sydney. She comes down to India, falls in love with Gomzi (Sumeet Sachdev) and develops a craving to have a family.

In fact, I was even told that because Teesha was the second woman, it had to be taken that I was negative. Remember Gomzi was supposed to get married to Ganga (Shilpa Saklani) first? But yes, as the story developed, people realised that Teesha wasn't a bad girl and started sympathising with her; they understood that she never intended to interfere in anyone's life, she genuinely fell in love with the guy and things went out of proportion.

Coming to the death part, I was clearly told in advance that I would be 'dying'. This was told to me as soon as I became pregnant in the serial.

"Gomzi called me up to compliment me on the death scene. Everyone says that was my best scene, and even I feel so"

Did you feel bad?

Hmmm... yes, a bit. I had begun to identify with Teesha's character. Secondly, I had gotten very close to the whole unit of Kyunki..., it's like one family. Especially we youngsters- Saahil, Gomzi, Ganga, Karisma, Indu, Ritu- used to have lots of fun together. But then, I guess the drama has to go on, the show has to continue, there have to be twists and turns. On second thoughts, I feel that my 'death' was a blessing in disguise. The 'death' has created a sensation.

What have been the sensational reactions you have experienced since then?

Too many. It's become difficult for me to go out. People hold me on the roads and begin to cry. And there's this family from Delhi. They have a kid, who if I am not wrong, is mentally deranged. Every day they watch Kyunki... with the kid. When he saw my 'death' scene, he became violent and hysterical. Doctors have advised them to take the kid to Mumbai and have a meeting with me, so that the kid realises that I am still alive. They haven't come as yet, but are expected anytime soon. And hey, my mom became very touchy too. Though I had told her about it in advance, when she actually saw it, she could not control her emotions.


Do you think this 'death' makes the audience sit up again and increases the viewership?

Yeah. They had begun to identify Gomzi and Teesha as the perfect couple and importantly remember, Teesha was Tulsi's bahu. So obviously, it would increase the viwership.


Called up your costar Gomzi to tell him that you are missing him?

No, he called me up to compliment me on the death scene. Everyone says that was my best scene, and even I feel so.


Do you think you are a spontaneous actress?

No. I take some time to take stock of the situation. I sit with the lines and the situation and get into the skin of the character and the mood of the scene. I think that I grew as an actor in Kyunki... especially. When I saw myself for the first time in this serial, I burst out laughing. But when I saw my death scene, I realised my growth as an artiste.


You said you take stock of the situation, sit with your lines? Where's the time when, more often than not, lines are written on the spot?

Balaji is an extraordinary production house. It briefs you about the character from day one in absolute detail. Your body language changes instantly. You know what you're going to say, how you're going to say it. It's been wonderful working with these guys.


What are you doing now?

It will be one month for Kya Haadsa... from here on. With Balaji, I think there's lots of work. You are out from one serial of theirs, you get into the next. This production house promotes and nurtures fresh talent. Let you on to something. I am doing Kashish Pyaar Ki for Balaji. It's going to be on air, very soon. And of course, I am open to offers from other production houses as well.



I have got film offers, but nothing meaty that would make me jump and grab it.



Come on, I am only 21! Let me settle down in my career first. But yes, I am in love (smiles). I am not giving his name away, but your clue is that he is from the TV industry.

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