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Interviews

Up Close and Personal: Sriti Jha

.facebook_406313759They say talent comes in surprise packages.They are right. Sriti Jha, one of the most well known faces of Indian TV (and what a beautiful face that is!)  is a living example. You would expect someone who has seven  years  of high -quality work to speak for her,  to be a little intimidating in person but surprisingly Sriti turns out to be the proverbial “girl next door” who disarms you instantly with her simplicity. I am impressed at her ability to stay grounded , given that in her long illustrious career   she has given the word  “variety” a new meaning: A high school drummer,  a princess, a split personality , a blind woman, an abused wife and now a rural mother: Sriti Jha has literally done it all.

Terming her profession as a gift from God, the pretty actress gives almost all credit for what she is today, to the directors and writers she has worked with. Her passion for her work is striking, her respect for people who work behind the scenes is touching, and her knowledge of literature and philosophy is stunning. This kind of  talent commands automatic respect, but the elan and simplicity she carries her success with, increases it manifold.

Below I bring you a glimpse of the woman behind the actress  through an up close and personal conversation.

DSCF0015D&D : How did acting happen to you? Chance or Choice?

SJ: Chance, that turned into Choice. Back in Delhi, at school, I actually wanted to join a dance group as my extra curricular activity,  but since the dance teacher was indisposed around that time, I had to pick theater instead. That’s how I started doing street plays and gradually grew fond of acting.  I pursued it even in college as a part of the English Dramatic Society .  Even then, to pursue it professionally was never the plan. It just happened to me. The audition for my first show Dhoom Machaao Dhoom took place in Delhi. So, I actually arrived in Mumbai with a job, which is an extremely rare thing to happen in this industry. That’s why I maintain that my profession is God’s gift to me. I value it above anything else and try to be honest at what I do everyday.

D&D: Dhoom MachaaoDhoom was the first Indian Daily for Disney. It was more on the lines of  the teenage shows set in american high schools. Quite an unconventional start. How do you feel when you look back at DMD?

SJ: It’s a mixture of feelings: A certain amount of fondness along with a certain amount of embarrassment too! Back then, I didn’t know what to do. Acting in front of a camera is entirely different from acting in a street play or acting on stage. On top of it,the theater I did  was never professional.  So It was a whole new world.The fondness comes from the realization that doing that show was like attending a school. As  it was a youth show, All actors were young and very new. We were being taught something new every day. It was a brilliant platform to learn and I value it highly. I am glad I started with Dhoom Machao Dhoom.

D&D: And how does an actor who starts with playing a  high school drummer goes on to play a Jahnvee ,a Ganga,  or other women with rich psychological layers..

I have been very fortunate with all the shows I have done.The people I have worked with have always had faith in me. I believe we actors can’t do much if we are not backed with  good content. Luck has been on my side in that aspect.  The roles I have played have more to do with how they are conceived rather than me.  I have no qualms in accepting that  I have  become the actor that I am today , is because of my writers and directors.It is kind of sad that actors get almost all credit and adulation for a popular role. If I get a bad show tomorrow, I can do nothing with it. It is only because of the stuff a writer writes for me to present, that people  get to appreciate the work that I do…

DSCF0218aD&D: You have been part of the TV industry for seven years now. Do you see trends changing or signs of evolution in terms of content being written?

SJ: Yes. There have been changes. People  have been trying to push the boundaries, if not break them.  For example,  now we have female protagonists who work for a living. Four years ago, I imagine this kind of a premise was rare: The leads were always housewives dealing with domestic problems. Now I see roles being written, where women are financially independent and marriage for them is more  of a transition than a goal. Working women have become part of Indian television –and that’s an immense progress.The visuals have gone through a tremendous evolution. The VFX used for contemporary shows are mind blowing.Youth shows are being made and well received.

Mythology has come back  in such a big way- I will shamelessly give all credit for it to Devon Ke Dev Mahadev. I am huge fan. I think it’s a great thing to happen to TV, because shows like Mahadev and Buddha have so much to teach about life. There is so much philosophy and literature involved. The presentation is so innovative  that young people are watching them as much as anyone. Definitely one of the most progressive things to have happened to TV.And Mohit Raina  is brilliant. I feel like I would want to touch his feet if I see him. He is Mahadev!

D&D: So  would you be open  to playing mythological characters in future? Popular opinion is that these roles carry the risk of being slotted….

SJ: I have never said no to anything(laughs).   I really don’t know what clicks for me. I doubt if any actor can tell you for definite that  this is the role they would or would not do.  But as far as the risk of being slotted is concerned, I wouldn’t think that holds true anymore. This new era of mythology on TV, (thank you Mahadev!) is very contemporary in many ways. The presentation is very progressive with a lot of scope for variety. For example, Mahadev (I can only exemplify that as I follow it very religiously) has so many shades. It’s not just about playing a God with one expression on your face. He has so many layers. So that definitely gives me a confidence that getting typecast or slotted is not much of a concern anymore.

D&D: One of your most talked about roles is of Jahnvee/Sia in Saubhagyavati Bhava. You played a victim of  cruel domestic abuse.  It is a very sensitive issue. Did  it affect you at a personal level?

SJ: It did affect me. Before playing this role, when I heard such stories , I did feel bad but failed to really connect. But when I started playing Jahnvee, the full impact of this  social evil called domestic violence hit me. That’s when this disturbing question started haunting me: If you cannot feel safe at your own home, where can you? Isn’t it the worst sort of situation to be in? The worst part about this particular issue is when people tend to dismiss it as a personal problem. It’s not. Domestic violence is a social issue and it should be dealt with socially. It’s the most horrible thing to happen to any human being.  When you are disrespected physically and emotionally at your own home, it is bound to kill you from within.

D&D: This show faced some criticism for showing violence too graphically. Some were of the view that SB was thriving on sadism and voyeurism..

SJ: Our effort was never to advertise violence  but we had to show a certain amount of it to  keep it authentic.. The audience had to feel a little of the horror  to really appreciate the moment when Sia finally takes a stand  and starts the journey towards her recovery.But that  was not supposed to be the USP of the show.  The title of the show-” Saubhagyvati Bhava” with a question mark- says it all.  It puts  a question mark on the entire concept of marrying “off” a girl. That  concept is flawed: Why do families  think their responsibility as parents are done and over with as soon as they get their daughters married? As Jahnvee ‘s mother outlines later in the series, a daughter’s fortune is not in marriage but in her freedom of choice.The  focus  of the show was  more on the process of recovery: That abysmal journey from the point of  believing “there is no way out” to  actually finding a way out and I would like to believe people responded to it because of that.

DSCF0038aD&D: Do you think TV is a women oriented industry. Women get to play richer roles than men as most  stories are centered around them? Or that has changed too?

SJ: Well, if that is the case, I am not complaining (laughs).  No, I think  the present scenario works on a fifty- fifty balance. Even when the stories are women oriented, both the protagonists are important– Ganga, my character in Balika Vadhu is a character entwined in Jagya’s story.  In fact It is more of Jagyas story than mine. Madhubala is a series which  revolves as much around R.K.  as Madhubala. Quobool Hai is another show which gives both the protagonists same weightage. Maybe some years ago, you could say TV  was mainly about women but I think it’s changed to a more balanced equation now.

D&D: Your career has been remarkable in terms of variety. The characters you have played are all very different from each other. What kind of a relationship do you share with them? Do you carry them back home with you?

SJ: I think the relationship between an actor and the character is symbiotic. These characters grow as much on you, as much you grow while playing them.  It is almost an organic process. I am not really a method actor and I do think of my characters even when I am not working, but most of the time the thought process is objective.  But sometimes for a particular character, to try to make it as authentic as possible I try living at home. For example , to give Sudha in “Jyoti”, that  sleepless husk in her voice and the redness in the eyes, I would try to stay awake at nights. So I don’t think an actor can plan to be a method actor or a “switch on -switch off” actor. It changes according to circumstances.

D&D: Could you pick out one role or a person who has been specially instrumental to your learning?

SJ: I think I changed as an actor after I did “Jyoti”. I started taking my work more seriously and made it a point to read more, specially about the craft of story telling , and watch more films.  My director Siddharth Sen Gupta and Arvind Babbal, my director in Jiya Jale , are the two people who are mainly behind me being the person I am today, professionally and artistically.

D&D: How was it playing a blind woman in Rakta Sambandh?  That is another one of your roles which surprises me by its authenticity. Did you do a lot of research or prepare differently? I imagine playing blind must not be easy!

SJ:  Thank you but till date, I feel dissatisfied with myself for not doing that better.  It is very difficult to look through things, as you have to keep your eyes open and not see things! Although I tried my best, it didn’t turn out to be as authentic as I would have wanted it to be. I went to a blind school in Worli but that ended up making me feel more guilty. People who have done it perfectly are obviously great : Al Pacino in The Scent of a Woman and Naseeruddin Shah in Sparsh are bloody brilliant. When I see them I really feel I couldn’t do justice to my role. But it was a brilliantly written show and one of the most special roles of my life after Sudha.

DSCF0171D&D: Coming to your current role, what is best thing you like about Ganga in Balika Vadhu? And did you have to face any particular challenge for this one?

SJ:  I like the fact that she is a very strong woman. As for challenges, it is the first time that I am playing a rural woman. It is also the first time that I am playing a mother, so that is a new emotion to portray. It has grown on me with time : It is a very special aspect of Ganga which she has transferred to me: She keeps her child above everything. The only goal of her life is to give Manu a better life. This aspect of selfless love, which  is also the source of all her strength, is  what makes Ganga very special to me and makes her a very fulfilling character to play.

D&D: Ganga and Siya both are women coping with abuse. What if a third role comes along with a similar background?

SJ: Well, I would ideally want to do something different but again a lot depends on the way the role is written. For example Ganga is fundamentally different from Siya, even though they are both characters coping with abuse. So for me,  it is more about the way a character is written.

D&D: So what does Sriti Jha do when she is not acting?

SJ: She is watching  other people act. I watch a lot of Indian television and I love movies.I also read when I am free and not to forget I sleep!

D&D: What’s your favorite movie?

SJ: That is a very tough question. It’s a tough choice between Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke Phool…And all of SatyaJit Ray flims..and all of Chaplin movies.. I love them all.. How can I not name any of them! I love movies!

D&D: Any aspiration to act in movies in future?

SJ: Well, It’s a new thing to learn and of course I would like to. But TV is always going to be my priority. I would like to believe that. All that I have today is because of the television Industry. The fact that you are interviewing me today or that I have an identity  is because of TV. I consider my job literally a gift from God, it was given to me on a platter. So I would like to remain grateful to God and give 100 percent to my work.

D&D: Who is your favorite actor ? Someone you aspire to be like?

SJ: I can never be like her and calling her  my favorite actor is an under statement. Waheeda Rehman, is my goddess, my inspiration and my Saraswati. I absolutely worship her from the core of my heart.

D&D:  What would you like to say to your viewers and your fans?

SJ: Watch me when I do a good job, but  please also realize that it depends on a lot of  hard work by the people behind the scenes. When a show is criticized , the criticism extends to writers and directors, but all the adulation is limited to actors. It should be both ways. A lot of what I do on-screen has to do with the content and the way it is presented.  And thank you  so much for all the love that you give me. I am very grateful to you all. The only way I can give back is by being honest with my work which has always been my aim and I will continue to do the best I can.

Photo Credit: Sriti Jha

Note:  Please don’t forget to read “Rapid Fire with Sriti Jha” – http://dramasanddreams.com/2013/10/29/rapid-fire-with-sriti-jha/

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About TulikaD

A full fledged dreamer. I prefer to see life pass by from a train window rather than trying to catch up with it. P.S I write if I feel like it!:)

Discussion

16 thoughts on “Up Close and Personal: Sriti Jha

  1. Thank you T for such a brillaint interview! Loved your questions but i loved her answers more! I have read tons of interviews but don’t recollect reading one like this!
    Am proud to be a fan of such a brilliant actor who acknowledges the efforts of the people behind the lens. And has the guts, to say it all! You love a character because of the way it is conceived and an actor because of the way he acts! Sriti if you are reading this, I love you, respect u and absolutely adore you!
    This is ur best till date T!
    Thanku thanku and thanku..:)

    Posted by simthecoolme | October 29, 2013, 4:15 am
  2. And also I love the fact that she watches a lot of Indian Television! I think,(I think) it’s very important for an actor to do so! She keeps herself well aware of the happenings in Indian Television! That makes me respect you more, Sriti mam!

    Posted by simthecoolme | October 29, 2013, 4:21 am
  3. Straight from the heart and reached my heart too.Such honesty.
    Kudos D&D

    Posted by Akanksha | October 29, 2013, 5:43 am
  4. Firstly… WOW.,such an awesome set of questionare with some of the finnest answers I have ever came across … well I am also a fan of Sriti Di from DMD days..didn’t got to see much but yeah she played it perfectly 😀 As far as the session goes, I got to enjoy some HONEST answers as well… Especially Mohit Raina Likes & her roles in Balika Vadhu.. The rest was all good, to say precisely … a promising Interview of a spectacular actress, TV era have changed many things & still ongoing, so .. Mine would be a THUMBS UP 🙂

    Posted by t2thechamp | October 29, 2013, 5:52 am
  5. awesum Qs and b’ful answers..love her honesty and simplicity!!! 🙂

    Posted by Rupali | October 29, 2013, 6:14 am
  6. Wonderfull interview, awesome answers. Thanku Drama and Dreams this is a memorable interview. Love Sriti Jha

    Posted by Kumkum | October 29, 2013, 6:29 am
  7. Sriti Jha really a gem persone, great thoughts …wow hats off to her I wonderd about those dark circles of Sudha my god she is so passionate that she really woke up at nights for those dark cirkls and husky voice. You are incridble Sriti Jha no one can be lyk you.

    Posted by Ramya Shekh | October 29, 2013, 8:40 am
  8. thanks for her int. she is a sweet and down to earth girl.
    loved all her shows specially dmd and dddsb.
    nice questions with nice replies overall nice article.
    well didn’t you mentioned to her that even mahadev is her fan???
    but m glad she likes dkdm wish to see her doing cameo in the show

    Posted by foram gosar | October 29, 2013, 8:59 am
  9. This is a “yaadgaar” interview so far, this is what I wanted to read. Her relation with her characters. How she work for her rols, and hats of to the her being so honest and humble. Really you are a great persone with pure and big heart. Want to read more and more about you. Thank you Drama & Dreams and specialy Tulika mam for this beautifull feacher.

    Posted by Prerna Kala | October 29, 2013, 9:21 am
  10. Thanku thanku so much for this detail feacher on her. What a gem persone she is, and I want to thanks the writer who wrote so beautifull lines in the bigning. A very very impressive personality. M so proud to be your fan Sriti Jha

    Posted by Neharika | October 29, 2013, 9:24 am
  11. Thank you Tulika D for this beautiful int :)))
    Sriti is my most fav actress….n I m soo proud to be her fan.
    her dedication and honesty towards work makes me respect her even more!
    Loved reading her insight…I can’t help but read this int. over and over again!
    It has to be one of the best I have come across 🙂

    Posted by Heena | October 29, 2013, 11:02 am
  12. Thank you so much, Tulika, for a brilliant interview on Sriti Jha. It has to be the best one I have read so far. Loved that you covered almost all her shows and even asked questions we fans discuss about!

    And what lovely, honest and well-thought-out answers! She gives full credit to her writers and directors and calls her talent a God-given gift. Sriti Jha, I’m extremely proud to be your fan! Also love how down-to-earth she is and how she’s also a total fangirl when it comes to Mahadev :D! Fantastic interview which was sheer joy to read.

    PS: Sorry, but have to disagree with her view on Sandhya’s portrayal in Rakt Sambandh. She was flawless and a complete natural as a blind girl. In fact that’s what got me watching an Indian show again after years! Sandhya/Vrinda still remains my all-time favorite role of Sriti.

    Posted by Rachana R | October 29, 2013, 12:38 pm
  13. Thanku Sriti Jha for sharing your honest and encourging thoughts and thanku Dramas & Dreams and Tulika mam, very thought full deep questions asked by you. M just imaging the combo of two toughtfull persones and their meeting. And the result comes as a wonderfull and the best feacher on Sriti.

    Posted by Avantika Garg | October 29, 2013, 1:36 pm
  14. I am not familiar with Sriti’s work, since my Indian TV watching is confined to DKDM. All I knew of her before this was that Mohit had praised her acting in an interview so I figured she must be good – How good, this interview makes clear!
    Loved her answers, especially to the DV question – yes it IS a social issue, cuts across all strata of society and must be tackled that way. From reading her interactions on insta, I see she has a very well informed mind, and that comes out in the interview too – love her clarity about her choices.
    She clearly has great taste – Waheeda Rehman IS a Goddess! 🙂 And not from your interview but her choice of saris and jewelery (as seen on insta) make me drool (sorry, #sareeaddict here :))

    Last but not least, loved her emphasis on the behind-the-scenes staff, the writing and all the elements that go to make a show.

    Looking forward to more about her!

    Posted by Maith | October 29, 2013, 7:03 pm
  15. nice interview 🙂 I liked her replies.. crisp n to the point

    Posted by Oly | November 11, 2013, 3:50 am

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