"If I start playing a mother at the age of 23, what will I play when I become 33? Grandmother?"

She made quite a splash, two years ago, with her ideal middle class girl act. And she is back in the news again, this time because she has decided to opt out of the show that made her a household name. Of course we are talking about Nausheen Ali Sardar AKA Sony's Kusum,

Her decision to quit Balaji Telefilms' Kkusum has surprised many. But it is not a case of big screen dreams or lucrative small screen offers, she hasten's to clarify.

"I have always given my heart and soul to Kkusum from the first day and will continue to do so till my last shot," she began.'s Vickey Lalwani caught with this pretty girl at Seven Bunglows, Andheri, where she was shooting for Kkusum. She was looking calm while doing her concluding portions, apparently sure of the decision she had taken.

Excerpts from the interview where she tells why she decided to opt out of the cast and her career plans post


Did you ever regret your decision to concentrate solely on 'Kkusum'?

Certainly not. Initially, for one year, I was required for nearly 25 days in a month. How could I take up another show? And it is not as if I wasn't offered any good roles. I was offered BAG Films' Kumkum-Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan. If I were to take up other offer, it would mean that I need a 40 day month! (laughs).


But ofcourse. Even your contract with Balaji Telefilms wouldn't have permited you to...

(Interrupts) No, they did not have any contract system then. It was later that they thought it was essential to enforce one. In daily soaps where the cast comprises several characters, it becomes very difficult to shoot and maintain the continuity if some of the actors choose to play truant.


Did you ever feel that you should opt out of 'Kkusum'?

Honestly speaking, right from the day the serial took an 18-year leap I thought I should call it quits. There was a buzz since quite some time that show might adopt the fast forward mode, but all was fine till it actually happened.


Why? What was your main grouse with the leap? Did you ever think that it was unwise to do so?

The fast forward was Ekta Kapoor's call. As far as I was concerned, I didn't want to play a mom so early in my career. I would definitely be uncomfortable playing a mother and calling youngsters my age as beta/beti. If my heart wasn't into it, it would show.

You cannot imagine the pain and agony that I went through before informing Ekta about my final decision. I even had a meeting with Shobha Kapoor, who I am very close to. But Ekta and Shobha both persuaded me to continue since it would create lot of difficulty for the show if I left. But my perturbance kept rising and I started getting more and more irritated. It effected me to such an extend that even my mom asked me to leave the show (pauses).


And you informed Ekta about your final decision?

It wasn't so easy. She told me that we (Ekta and I) need to meet the Sony people. We met up Tarun Katial. Neither Ekta nor Tarun were happy with my decision.


So money wasn't a problem anytime...

There was never dispute about renumeration ever. I was very happy with the kind of money I was getting from Balaji Telefilms. I would love to work with Ekta again. But the show was getting on my nerves. Do you know people used to tell me that my daughter was looking elder than me?


But don't such difficult portrayal actually increase an actors repertoire?

I agree. But I am too young. I am just 23 years old. If I play mom at this age, it would mar my chances of playing a young protagonist in the serial or film. Today, the audience may have become matured to accept actors' in different roles. But in our entertainment industry, that is within the film and television fraternity, there is often a set pattern, a herd mentality. If I start playing a mother at the age of 23, what will I play when I become 33? Grandmother?

Let me put it this way. In television, an actor gets typecast faster than films. I have to move out before I can get typecast. I can sense that developing.

Television in smaller towns has a big influence on the minds of the people. You will find it difficult to digest, but they don't understand that Kusum is reel character and Nausheen is real. My mom recently went out station and people told her that if Kusum doesn't want to keep her daughter, they were just too happy to keep her in their house!

"The serial had reached a point where Ekta had no alternative but to press the fast-forward button "

Won't this move effect your chances of bagging another lead role on Sony TV?

(Interrupts). If I am good, I'll be back on television stronger than before. If I am not, it's time I shake off that myth from my head.


And you have absolute no friction with Ekta on any other matter?

Not a bit. I have been misquoted in sections of the press. I have not said to any journalist that I didn't want to apply the grey patch or the whitener or the spectacles. Neither have I said that I am quitting Kkusum because the serial has become a saas-bahu type. I don't know why journalists tend to glamorise things. Kkusum never was nor will be a saas bahu serial.


What next after this?

A few things are there in the pipeline, which I wouldn't like to put on record now 'coz it's too early. But I am taking a break from the tube for the next two months. Till then, I will be concentrating on my play Kkusum Manhar Lele- a famous Marathi play which has been translated in Hindi. And there is this offer from a Pakistani production house for a film to be shot in Dubai.


Do you agree that 'Kyunki...' and 'Kahaani...' are doing quite well with the new generation, but 'Kkusum' has not been able to recapture the viewership it lost in the recent past?

Since some time, we actors used to discuss with our director that we are not enjoying it anymore. And the serial was slipping too. But I guess the serial had reached a point where Ekta had no alternative but to press the fast-forward button.

When I intially approched her with my apprehensions about playing a mom, she explained to me that it was getting increasingly difficult to play around with just one or two characters all the time so they needed to rope in few more.


Were you at any stage pulled up for the dip in TRPs?

No, nothing of that sort ever happened with me.


I think the serial had deviated too much, there are even loopholes in the story now. Take a look at the fast forward. Where is your Chachaji who got paralysed in the serial and you vowed to make him walk again or where are your siblings?

They haven't been shown after the 18-years leap. I have no clue about their whereabouts!


That apart, even you seem to have taken a back seat?

(Smiles) You think so? Maybe because I made the mistake of expressing my displeasure about my character.


Till when are you shooting?

I'll be winding up all my scenes as discussed with Ekta. I'll complete my shooting schedule latest by February end. You will see me on air in the serial till mid-March.


Any chances we might see you making a splash in Bollywood?

I am looking at meaningful, cross over cinema- which would not have any objectionable scenes. So if such offers come to me, then why not.


While you are paying heed to the creative actor in you. But what about your loyal fans who will miss you and feel let down?

If they are my real fans, they will certainly use this platform and analyse the perspective of one of their favourite actors.


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