To me,the most striking thing about my last conversation with Mouni Roy, the glamorous and talented TV actress, who is now back as Sati in Lifeok’s mythological show Devon ke Dev Mahadev, was her frank admission that she had never made any plans for her life . She preferred to imagine herself like this picturesque green leaf caught in the wind: clueless about which way the wind would take her or where she would finally end up. Now when the flow of the wind has made a sharp U turn and she finds herself playing Sati all over again in a show that she bid adieu 2 years ago, I was curious to know her views on this yet another unexpected turn of events in her life. So I made a quick call to her and an interesting conversation followed where we talked about her rendition of Sati, her expectations from the track and what makes this character so special to her. Below are the excerpts which I am sure will make a very interesting read for all DKDM enthusiasts:
What exactly was your state of mind when you got to know that you will be playing Sati again in Devon Ke Dev MAHADEV? I , for one, was surprised to my wit’s end and so were many other viewers…
When I first got a call from the Mahadev team and they told me they had something like this on their mind, I was but of course surprised. The first impulse I had was to pause for a moment and thank God for never stopping to surprise me. Life has been full of surprises, good and bad ,and I have always accepted everything believing it to hold some meaning: sometimes decipherable some times not. This time ofcourse, it was a very pleasant one! I feel lucky to be able to work with Nikhil Sir and Sohanna again who in addition to being almost family, head one of the best production houses in the industry. So yeah, currently my state of mind is of Gratitude.
You are obviously looking more than forward to play Sati again. This time around what is it going to be like? Do you plan to apply a fresh approach to the character or is it going to be an extension of the Sati we saw last time?
I would say it is going to be an extension as this is not a new character. A fresh approach only works when you are playing an altogether new character which has not been essayed before. For me now, Sati is someone I know intimately, thanks to all the research and background work we all did on her the last time. I know how Sati thinks or reacts when she is put in different situations and that makes it easier. TV, being an industry which works 24*7, all the preparation and research needed for an actor to understand the character, happens on the job. On the first day you sit with the director and understand his vision, then as you start playing it, you gradually get into the skin of the character. Fortunately for me, most of this has been covered. The only thing I am concerned about is that it’s been a while since I was Sati. So bringing her back to life again after this long gap could be a challenge. I definitely don’t want to ape myself. I do not want to do what’s already done. Fine tuning and a revision is needed and I plan to sit with Nikhil Sir and sharpen my vision of her again by understanding hIs expectations this time around.
What are your expectations from the story? Everyone is wondering how exactly things will progress as Sati’s story has already been told. What are your views?
I have immense expectations from the story and am heavily relying on the writers and the director. The script,screenplay and dialogues are crucial to this rendition. All I know right now is that I would want to play with a lot of new situations while keeping in touch with the basic character. This whole concept of Sati Rahasya has a lot of promise. I am hoping it turns out to be as enchanting on screen as it sounds on paper. There is as much anticipation in me as in the viewers. I really hope it’s all worth it!
Doubts are being expressed by some people about how the show would be able to justify this retelling when Purunas don’t seem to support it..
Well I haven’t read the entire Shiv Puran. Folklores and some versions, yes, but that’s it. So I would plead ignorance and leave this question to be answered by the writers and researchers. Mahadev has a brilliant research team and I have full faith in them. I don’t want to answer any speculations either because I need to clear my speculations first. I am very close to Sati and the production house so my answers are always going to be biased. I would rather let the show speak for itself, as it has until now, in a brilliant fashion.
What is it that you like most about Sati? Why is she so special to you?
The binary opposition of the character appeals to me immensely. It’s a challenge playing her contradictory sides: She is arrogant yet innocent. She seems politically aware yet at times, naive. Being a protected princess, she has seen a limited world, still is not afraid of what lies beyond. She is ready to leave everything for the love of her life yet holds strong to her principles . She is a goddess yet as much an ordinary girl as you and me.
Looks like you identify with her a great deal…
I don’t identify with the haughty princess part because God has made sure I keep my feet firmly grounded at all times but other than that, there is a lot of identification. My friends and family would swear by the fact that I am as contradictory as it gets. AIso, like Sati, I tend to value relationships and people more than things. I am as lost as her when it comes to “social hierarchy” : Equal respect for all human beings have been instilled in me since I was born. Sati’s readiness to do things not generally expected of someone in her position is also something that appeals to me. I believe I am like that except that I am lazier. Also I would like to believe I am a very intense person like her.
Are you a shiv bhakt in real life?
Yes I am. Most people I know are. My best friend is one . My mother is a huge shiv bhakt. She always said that an ideal husband should be like Shiv. Singing Shiv Stuti is part of my daily routine. It is well known that I observe the Shivratri fast every year. Nataraj, an aspect of Shiva, has enamored me endlessly since always. In fact to tell you something funny, I have had this strange fixation since childhood that Radha should be Shiva’s partner. I think it’s because I always imagined myself to be Radha owing to her passion, her dance and her beauty.
As you are an inherently spiritual person, did you happen to experience certain moments of spiritual awareness or divinity while playing Shiva’s consort in Mahadev?
On the first day of the shoot, when we were shooting for 28 hours straight, I had to do a scene where I look at Shiv for the first time. A lot has been said about the scene and people often wonder how I got the expression so right. Without doubt, Nikhil sir gets all the credit for bringing that out in me. He really made me believe that I was going to see God in flesh. It couldn’t be just love, like a mortal feels for another, it had to be more than that. He explained that centuries of buried dedication, devotion and love had to come out in the form of divine bliss on Sati’s face. So I realised that I had to actually feel the goosebumps to make it convincing and yes I did. That was one moment where I felt spiritually aware and content. At the same time, you can’t always feel intensely about all scenes. You have to take it as a job as you are always fighting deadlines. A mythological production entails a lot of hard work on so many levels and Mahadev has brilliant people working all around so at times you just do your part of the job and let others do theirs. So you have to strike a smart balance when it comes to being connected with your scenes at an emotional level.
A lot has been talked about the Shiv- Sati chemistry even though Mahadev is a mythological show. It has been a trend setter in this regard. I don’t think people expected any chemistry between gods and goddesses before Mahadev! What do you think actually makes one chemistry better than the other?
I think it’s a mixture of everything in regards to how a show is made: The co ordination between the people who work behind the camera and those in front of the camera is vital. The actors have to be convinced with what’s on paper for them to add their own element to it. Sometimes two actors while rehearsing realize that they can actually add to the scene here and there. But if scenes and dialogues are not written well, it hampers the chemistry. Other than that, there’s this inherent factor which just makes two people look good together and they catch the fancy of the audience. So definitely a lot depends on how well the “chemistry” is accepted by the viewers. But most importantly, acting is also in part, reacting. So it helps immensely if the actor in front of you is a very good actor.
When your character died in Mahadev the last time, the show was just beginning to be well known. Now its one of the most famous shows on the Indian screen and quite a lot of people watch it. Naturally the level of scrutiny is going to be way higher. Do you feel pressured?
No, I have never felt any pressure in my life, stemming from the fact that I only want to give my best to what I do and then I want to go back to being the person I am. I will go crazy if I take the entire ownership of a show on my shoulders. You do your job better if you concentrate on your scenes rather than the numbers. I feel very fulfilled at the end of the day if I have a done a certain potpourri of happy, sad and intense sequences through the day. If you throw in a little bit of dance, it is even better. But I experience a big disconnect once I leave the sets. I don’t bring my work back home. If something goes very well or doesn’t go well, it does not elate or disappoint me to a level where I’ll keep thinking about it after work hours.
So what is your message for your fans who are waiting with baited breath for Sati to come back into Mahadev’s life again?
Thank you for always being so loving and caring. I love you all. All I can tell you is that I will try my best to match up to your expectations. But if in some scenes you feel I have failed you, please give me a second chance. I will try again. Please keep giving me chances and I will improve because after all I am just a beginner every day.