"I won't wear undersized outfits and do sexy scenes. I am looking at meaningful cinema"

If you think you have seen Sai Deodhar aka Monika - the young, charming and intelligent pilot from Saara Akaash - before, you are not too far off mark. The offspring of cinematographer Debu Deodhar and director Shrabani Deodhar, this Taurean has virtually grown up in the film industry and has been facing the camera since she was three. Acting has been an aspiration ever since. But, whether TV or films, only meaningful roles please! Sai doesn't want to associate with skimpy outfits and sexy scenes. She tells Vickey Lalwani why:


Was yours a planned foray into television acting?

Yes. My mother Shrabani Deodhar is a successful director in Marathi cinema with films like Sarkar Nama - which won the Filmfare, Screen and State awards - to her credit. Currently, she is directing Raveena Tandon's home-production Pehchan. From childhood, I regularly visited the sets with my father Debu Deodhar.

I have grown up in a filmi environment. So naturally, I felt the urge to act. In fact, I have done a few TV serials in my childhood - Kachchi Dhoop, when I was barely three years old, Mrignaynee and even films like - Prahaar, Chudiyan, Daayra and my mother's first Marathi film. Then came Shanti, which incidentally was my last appearance before I settled for a break.



Yeah. Padhai kaun karega? It was time to appear for my Standard X exams. So I shifted my focus to academics.


But you never put your acting dream on the backburner?

Why should I? But let me correct you, I never just dreamt of becoming an actress. It was an aspiration,that I meant to pursue diligently and relentlessly. That's just what I started doing soon after my tenth exams.

I acted in Sai Paranjpe's Marathi play starring Vikram Gokhale. That was a great learning experience after which I formally got trained in acting from Kishore Namit Kapoor classes, and also learnt kathak and jazz. May I add that my earlier stint helped me loosen up before the camera.

"I have grown up in a filmi environment. So naturally, I felt the urge to act"

Were these classes and the childhood experience enough?

(Laughs) I can slip into the skin of the character easily, because I relate to the character. Monika is a very real person who has her fair share of strengths and flaws.

The best part of the character is that I play a girl who has her own views and identity. This is true for all girls today, including myself. Besides, I am completely a director's actress. Often, I ask the director to explain the graph of my character.


Scripts are written one day before, lines are written one hour before. Does a director know what turn the story is going to take next week?

By graph of my character, I don't mean where my role is heading. I simply mean the pitch with which I emanate. Often, actors either underplay or go over the top.


How did 'Saara Akaash' happen?

I got a call from Miditech (the production house) asking me whether I was interested in acting. They had gotten hold of a few of my pictures, I don't know from where. I loved the role and grabbed the offer.


But the serial did not start off on schedule?

For a very long time. In fact, nearly one-and-half years. But I did not lose patience. I had a gut feeling that those were teething problems, which would settle down. So I rejected few other offers that came along. This role was meatier and hence a better platform to flag off my journey (pauses).


Go on...

I particularly enjoyed the flying scenes. Though the scenes are all courtesy animation in post-production, we all did a lot of homework in inculcating the body language of pilots. We have interacted with real pilots to imbibe their style and mannerisms. Besides, some pilots actually made us understand the various technical aspects of flying so that we don't look awkward getting in and out of the plane so often.

"Movies have eaten into our ratings. Nowadays, good films are being aired on TV. No serial wins against a movie in terms of viewership"

It must have been quite an experience to interact with pilots?

Absolutely. During our learning and rehearsals, we entered the restricted area, where even the close family members of pilots are prohibited. Mind you, nobody is allowed on the tarmac. Thanks to producer Nikhil Alva, who knew the Air Force authorities and thus obtained the permission.

Do you remember your screen test?

Certainly. They gave me a few lines to recite. Believe it or not,

I completely improvised on what was given to me and said it in my style. And they liked it! Guess they equated it to the confidence that was so very essential to the tomboyish character of Monika.

The show also underwent a lot of changes in the script, didn't it?

Right. Earlier, the focus was more on air force. Now it is more about human emotions against the backdrop of the air force. What to do? People want to see relationship-oriented shows. That's what sells (shrugs her shoulders).


But did you approve of the fact that the original concept underwent a dramatic transformation?

Does it make any sense for producers, directors, actors and so many other professionals to sweat day and night to make something that the audience does not want to watch?

Did you reshoot some stuff?

We did, but without diluting the essence.

So what is the viewer left with? Everything is the same, isn't it?

Now you are complaining that all serials are same. Yes, television has become monotonous. But please do not blame the producers and directors for this. Television means big business and it is difficult to experiment with. Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin maybe a beginning. It will be interesting to watch how it goes from here.


Frankly speaking, 'Saara Akaash' has not been able to maintain the high viewership it enjoyed in its very first episode.

I agree that the ratings have fluctuated. I personally feel that the movies have eaten a lot into our ratings. Nowadays, many new and good films are being aired on TV. No serial can fight and win against a movie in terms of viewership.

Ironically, these movies do not necessarily affect the post-10 pm serials. The people watch the first hour of every new movie, which coincides with the hour of Saara Akaash telecast. Since only a few movies are good, these people then return to serials.

"Monika (of Saara Akaash) is a real person who has her fair share of strengths and flaws. This is true for all girls today, including myself"

Sai did a lot of homework to learn the body language of pilots for 'Saara Akaash'
You love Shakti Anand in the serial, but he concentrates only on Sonal Sehgal. Do you identify with such a situation in real life?

(Laughs) Not so long ago, I completed my BA. Presently I am doing my MA by correspondence. So I am still a student and in touch with lots of youngsters attending college. These things are quite common in these times in every college.

Is there a planned end to 'Saara Akaash'?

It's an ongoing thing.


You have worked in films as well as serials, though films happened at a very young age? Still, could we know from you if you felt any difference between the two mediums?

Of course (with a lot of emphasis), I have felt the difference. Sometimes, youngsters and even kids are sharper and more observant than adults. See, errors on television are not detrimental to the fortunes of a serial.

Say, if a director took a long shot instead of a close one and realised his mistake even after the whole episode had been shot, yet he can recover in the next episode because similar backdrops and scenes often happen on small screen. Besides, the film can be reused. In films, the director has no chance to rectify his mistakes. This is because of three reasons - budget constraints, stars are too busy to give common dates and the film cannot be reused.


You look pretty fit to become a heroine. Is that going to happen soon?

I hope so (laughs). Pray for me. But I am clear that I will not wear undersized outfits and do sexy scenes. I wouldn't like to be associated with such cinema. I am looking at meaningful cinema to come my way. There are different kinds of actresses in the film industry and there is work for every category.


Your next TV serial?

Could be Basu Chatterjee's Film Farm, where I'll be playing the lead.

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