'Despite my face being splashed all over, I can still lead my life the way I want to. What more can I ask for?' : Shweta Agarwal

She is a stunner! And that is an honest confession.

After witnessing her on -screen avtaar at a staged launch, one wasn't really sure what to expect when an interview at a local coffee joint was scheduled. But boy, did we rub our eyes in disbelief when she tiptoed in.

That's the latest "ugly duckling waiting to turn into a beautiful swan" Nikki of Star Plus' newest entrant Dekho Magar Pyaar Se - - -alias model cum actor Shweta Agarwal, for you.

Read on for a heart to heart that transpired thereafter with indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani.


When did the acting bug bite you?

Having done my schooling from Dehradun, I came to Mumbai for college studies. After I graduating from St Xavier's, I did a couple of music videos and then shifted down South to do films.


But, didn't you also act in couple of TV serials here as well?

Yes. I did Shagun (Star Plus) and Babul Ki Duayen Leti Ja (Zee). In fact, I was the main lead in both the shows. But when the movies beckoned, I could not ward off the temptation. So I told the production houses and channels about it and they terminated my character in such a way that it didn't look unnatural.

At that point of time, I thought that I was getting a great opportunity to do films, which I should not fritter away. I did five films (four Telugu, one Kannada).


So why did you come back?

It was not easy staying there. I started missing home.


Were you staying alone?

My mom and brother used to take turns and visit me, but they didn't stay on for long periods.


Coming from a Marwari background, did you face parental opposition when you initially announced your decision to join the entertainment industry?

Luckily, my parents are supportive. Plus, my dad graduated from the Film Institute, however, later got into business. My grandfather (maternal) owned a recording studio. So, showbiz is not an alien concept to my family. We are pretty cool about it. No hang-ups, what so ever.


Back in Mumbai, did you start missing the filmi atmosphere down South?

Before I could get some free time to even think about it, I got a few more videos. Almost immediately, I got a call for Dekho Magar Pyaar Se. I went for the audition. During the audition, they tested if I would look comfortable carrying weight. Nikki is a very fat girl, and as you can see, I am not fat in reality. So it wasn't going to be easy.

Every behavioral aspect of Nikki had to be like that of an overweight girl. You could put on lot of padding on your body, but you need to be able to walk and sit like an overweight person. Of all the contestants (and there were many!!!!), I looked the most convincing with all that weight on.

'I quoted them an X amount. They thought it was too high. So I requested that instead I be allowed to lead a normal life'

Has Indian television come to a stage where glamour is slipping into the background?

Any sort of change is either liked by the people or not. You will always get extreme reactions for any change. With Jassi, the transition of the protagonist from a beautiful saree clad girl to a plain bespectacled Jane worked. So, you may say that glamour is not essentially a requisite now. But the timing had to be just right. It came when the audience readily lapped it. Yet, a day will come when people will look forward for a "transformation".

Jassi... happened at the right time, followed by Yeh Meri Life Hai, which I think is also doing quite well.


But how is it that such deglamorised protagonists strike the right chord with the audience in today's times when fashion rules the roost?

See, fashion rules the roost in upper-class homes, the high-society. But television isn't "the entertainment source" for the high society, but it is for the middle-class and the poor sections of the society. Therefore the association is much better and the identification is almost instant. There is a feel-good sentiment when you see a simple, fat, and ugly protagonist. It tells them you don't have to spend hundreds and thousands to look good. It tells them you don't have to feel inferior and ashamed of your appearance because you can be superior in many other ways.

If you have a great looking girlfriend who is not a nice person, how long will your relationship last?


But the girlfriend can be good in looks and heart at the same time?


'DMPS is a boost to fat people who feel, rather live under a myth, that they can't fall in love'

You said that you were comfortable in carrying the weight put on you for Nikki's character? How did this comfort originate?

My dad and uncles are very chubby. There have been others who have been very, very fat in my family. So I have seen them how they walk, how they fit themselves into a chair, so it came sort of naturally to me. When I was small, I too was plump; it was baby fat, which I shed with age. So you see, I didn't have to do much homework for this role.

The homework was not difficult, rather, wasn't required as you say. But at the end the day...

(Interrupts) You said it! That's not easy. Carrying so much weight for hours together, the hair pulled back so tightly that I perpetually have a headache is very, very exhausting.


Yes! But that is part and parcel, right! The energy surges back, when I drive back home. The hoardings on the streets, the fan mail I am getting... the adrenaline begins to flow...

My mom is my biggest fan. She is on a complete high. She has gone checking the hoardings all around the city.

But if given a choice, wouldn't you have preferred if you had a show where you looked your usual self. With the kind of advertisement campaigns we have these days, it would have generated more buzz than your previous shows. This in turn would have given you direct recognition with the masses.

Not really. This is a blessing in disguise. Despite my face being splashed all over, I can still lead my life the way I want to. What more can I ask for? I wouldn't like people coming and mobbing me if I am sitting with my friends for a coffee or partying.

Have friends and relatives, who didn't know that you were acting in 'DMPS', called to verify with you?

It has taken them time, plus they are very apprehensive before checking. They'll call up and generally ask this way, "Oh Shweta, is that Nikki you by any chance?" Believe it or not, there are some close friends with whom I party, but they refused to believe when I told them that I was the DMPS girl!


Did you suspect that Star's 'DMPS' will be compared to Sony's 'Jassi?'?

From day one! My look is obviously going to draw parallels with Mona Singh's. But DMPS and Jassi?are as different as chalk and cheese. Both are bought from the same company. How can the same company shell out two similar products one after another? Plus I think the make-ups are quite different (pauses).

Go on?

I think if someone spots Mona Singh in person, he will know she is Jassi. But if someone sees me in person, he wouldn't know I am Nikki.


Mainly because her body is the same. Plus the face is not overdone in any terms. It's just the wig and the spectacles that come between Jassi and Mona. Mona probably even walks and talks the same way in real life as she does in the serial.

On the other hand, if you see my behaviour and body language, it's completely different. There's even a different connotation in my voice. I have been shown very timid to begin with. So I am working at my voice accordingly. Later of course, with time, my voice will change as I gain confidence.

''DMPS' is the story of a fat girl. It begins with a girl, who is fat and remains fat till the end'

We hear, Sony is planning to unmask the real Mona Singh soon. Is Star too going to adopt the same policy?

No. DMPS is the story of a fat girl. It begins with a girl, who is fat and remains fat till the end.


But isn't fatness being propagated in some way? Pray, obesity is dangerous?

(Interrupts) We are not propagating obesity. At the end of the day, DMPS is a boost to fat people who feel, rather live under a myth, that they can't fall in love. Imagine Adnan Sami being thin. How many people will love him after he becomes thin?

Believe me, people on my sets say that I look so cute in that overweight get up that they wish I really looked like that.

But, what does Shweta Agarwal feel?

(Smiles) Given a choice, I love the way I am. But even if I was fat, which I told you I was once upon a time, I still would wears trendy outfits, attended parties and did what every normal teenager does. Even today, I don't go to gym and do any workout to keep myself in shape.
Now for the main question. Are there no restrictions from Star that you shouldn't move out as yourself in public?

I had an option of being contracted with them completely or do it the way I wanted to.

Please elaborate.

I quoted them an X amount. They thought it was too high. So I requested that instead I be allowed to lead a normal life.

One gets a feeling that Star hurried up with 'DMPS' simply because Sony was coming up with two new shows- 'Hum 2 Hai Na' and 'Aayushman' after a week's time. A knee-jerk reaction. Right?

Wrong. Actually, DMPS was supposed to launch early July. But since we did not have enough in the episode bank, it got delayed. Since the Star and Sony launches were so close, you get that feeling. If Star were really keen to push it, DMPS would have hit the tube in June. Maybe Star would be in a better position to answer this one.
How is your personal life like?

(Smiles) Lots of relatives, lots of friends. I am very happy.

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