"TV work is tremendously taxing but it gives a high that films can't offer"

Barely seven to eight episodes after she was introduced as the third-generation bahu Damini in Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (on Star Plus), Riva Bubber was abruptly replaced by Raavee Gupta for want of negative overtones.

Now, in an apparent game of musical chair, Gupta has been booted and Bubber is back in the same role.

The girl - who also plays the simple collegian Nikita Sharma in Neena Gupta-produced Kyun Hota Hai Pyarrr (also on Star Plus) - knows she has only her stars and the channel's indecisiveness to thank for getting back her Kyunki... role.

Bubber was very willing to talk about the mix up among other things with indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani. Excerpts from a chat with the 23-year-old Riva Bubber:


Your face looks familiar. Have I seen you in some ads?

May be. I've done Cadbury's, Ponds, Sunsilk and a few other ads on television.


Let's start with 'Kyun Hota Hai Pyarrr' (KHHP). How did the serial happen to you and why did you agree to do it?

My ads got me some popularity and Star Plus recommended me to Neena Gupta. She liked me. That's it.

Neena is not the type who dishes out serials for the heck of it. She translates an idea into a show only if she is sure about it. Her last serial Saans on Star TV achieved near cult status, remember! KHHP is a serial for the youth, by the youth and of the youth. And yes, there IS an audience for it.

People have got bored of the saas-bahu types. Anybody who has been to college would identify with KHHP. Besides there's no vulgarity in the serial.


You say people are bored of saas-bahu types. And yet you signed up for 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi'. What's the logic?

Kyunki… is not a saas-bahu 'type'. Rather, it is a trend setter. I am amazed by the following it has generated. I think serial makers should look beyond and be innovative.

Getting inspired by a good concept is okay, but the herd mentality which exists, must go. One can't deny that innovativeness is sorely lacking.

"Kyunki… is not a 'saas-bahu type'. It is a trend setter. I am amazed by the following it has generated"

Back to 'KHHP'. Despite the fact that Sonal Pendse, who plays Ash, looks more dynamic, you have managed to make a mark as Nikki. How?

My character has touched the inner core of most hearts. Nikki is a very level-headed girl with her morals and ethics in place. Despite peer pressure, she safeguards her values. It is not only the teeny boppers but grown-ups who favour the character.

Several elders recognise me on the road, come up to me, and say, "Are you Nikki? We wish that we had a daughter just like you."


How close is Nikki to Riva?

Very close. I was just like Nikki in college. I kept to myself and had a few friends. But yes, unlike Nikki's earlier attire, I rarely wore salwaar kameez. Anyway, thankfully now Nikki's character has changed and she is getting glamorous. (laughs).


If the role of the flamboyant, exuberant and hep Ash had been offered to you…

Hmm... I would have done it, but I am not sure if the output would have been as convincing. I am not the type who says "Accept me as I am. It's my life". That's what Ash's character depicts in KHHP. It wouldn't have been a cakewalk for me.


How did you bag 'Kyunki...'? I mean for the first time?

Actually, I was offered two serials by Balaji Telefilms around the same time - Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat and Kyunki... Obviously, I couldn't take up both so Ekta Kapoor took the call. She wanted me to do Kyunki....


If so, why were you ousted from 'Kyunki...' after a few episodes?

I was shooting for KHHP and Kyunki... at the same time. Those days, we used to shoot for Kyunki... nearly every day. So, there was a bit of a date problem.

Secondly, I had a very positive role in KHHP. I was known quite well as the well-behaved Nikki. In Kyunki, on the other hand, Damini's character was suddenly taking a negative turn. I was not too keen on playing a negative character. I felt that I needed to build a particular image. I didn't think I could do a positive role in one serial and a negative one in another at the same time, so early in my career. Some people would call it variety but I thought otherwise.

Thirdly, I could not identify with the change at all. I could not digest the amount of negativity. It was too drastic. I couldn't figure out why the entire Virani parivar had to suffer because Gautam has tricked Damini into marrying him? I would have wanted Damini's retaliation to be a bit subtle.

"I like my directors to give me a little flexibility in the way I enact my scenes"

It's strange that you digested the change your role took in 'KHHP' but not in 'Kyunki'?

In KHHP, my character had an image overhaul. She started dressing up in trendy outfits, but she still is the Dehradun-wali Nikki at heart.


Balaji signed you for the character of Damini in 'Kyunki...', then you were replaced by Raavee Gupta and now you have been offered the same role again. Do you think this game of musical chairs is fair on the viewers?

I don't know if it is fair, but often, viewers love the character and not the actor. Importantly, the production house and the channel involved have a lot at stake. They must be doing a lot of homework and research done before taking a decision.


Ekta says your replacement, Gupta (Raavee), was asked to quit because Balaji was getting letters and emails criticising her acting. Heard that one?

Pretty much. Even I used to get lots of feedback from people saying that they were missing me.

Which serial is dearer to you - 'Kyunki...' or 'KHHP'?

That's difficult to answer. Frankly, Kyunki... is Kyunki... It has its own place in the television industry. But Kyunki... revolves around Tulsi only. Other characters may come and go - but they can't hog the limelight.

On the other hand, KHHP is my baby, even thought lesser people watch it.

"I won't do bold scenes. I am quite a prude"
Considering that TV shows are getting bolder by the day, would you do what Mahek did in 'Kaahin To Hoga'? ... a silhouetted lovemaking scene?

No, I won't do bold scenes. I am quite a prude.

What kind of an actress are you? Spontaneous or methodical?

I am a spontaneous actress. I don't rehearse much. I just have to get into the skin of my character and emotions come pretty quickly to me.

However, sometimes when I see my scenes on the monitor, I feel I could have been better. At other times, even if a particular scene is okayed by my directors, I tell them I could do it better and ask for a retake.

Anyway, I like my directors to give me a little flexibility in the way I enact my scenes.


Do you plan to get into films?

Films are not my cup of tea. TV work is tremendously taxing but it gives a high that films can't offer.

I have received quite a few film offers but I turned them down. I do have respect for the film industry. But I don't have the inclination.


As much as I would like to believe you, there is one niggling doubt. More often then not TV artistes claim that they aren't interested in films, but they don't waste time in grabbing a role when offered one.

I know I won't be able to convince you (laughs). But I am not one of those people. I know my future lies in television and will stand by my word.


What about more serials then?

Yes. I have signed up for Balaji Telefilms' Koi Aa Raha Hai Waqt Badalne. Siddharth Chowdhary, the guy who appears in the Close-Up ad with Anupam Kher, also stars in the serial.

In the initial episodes, I will play Siddharth's friend, but further ahead there is a romantic angle involved.

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