UNSTOPPABLE STAR SURBHI CHANDNA DISCUSSES HER WINNING SUPERNATURAL SERIES AND FUTURE HOPES
by ASJAD NAZIR
POPULAR actress Surbhi Chandna has had a rapid rise in recent years and become one of the most bankable Indian TV stars.
She is continuing her winning small screen success with a starring role as Bani Sharma in supernatural drama Naagin 5 and carries forward the impressive legacy of the hit show.
The award-winning star has been shooting under strict Covid-19 restrictions for the fifth season and has won praise for her new sexy snake woman avatar.
She has also been working long hours on the highly demanding show, but is happy to entertain audiences during the difficult lockdown.
Eastern Eye caught up with Surbhi Chandna after a long day of hard work to speak about Naagin 5, her fans, future hopes and working during the time of coronavirus.
How do you feel when you start a new project?
There is a lot of excitement when I start a new project and multiple butterflies in my tummy because I come from a certain schooling and way of performing, and it is not necessary that every set I go to is going to follow the same pattern of performance, acting, direction or even lighting. I knew the kind of schooling I come from is not exactly the way they make shows like Naagin, which are very interesting fantasy-based shows. So, the excitement to learn something new is there.
How do you approach a new character like Bani Sharma in Naagin 5?
When I am offered a particular project, I don’t do a lot of research. I am actually an impulsive person, which often makes me an impulsive performer. I think all the magic happens when you are on set. When you have a scene, you of course, study it. You are taught to read the scene, and remember your lines and cues of whoever is in the scene. But I feel the scene has to happen on set. A lot of actors do all the planning beforehand, but the magic only happens when the camera rolls. It doesn’t even happen in the rehearsal, which is a touch up on the lines.
It is interesting you say that, tell us more…
My approach for a new character is on set. I believe in magic and in being raw. With Naagin 5, I have left back my previous show experiences behind and on this set I am as raw as can be. Asjad, I feel people relate to such raw characters and actors more. There is relatability to that innocence. So everyday I go on set, I won’t use the word blank as I study my scene, of course, but I surrender myself to the director.
What has the experience of shooting in the times of Covid-19 been like?
It is not easy shooting in such trying times. I am more worried for my family who is back home. So, every time I am at shoot or done with it, my only concern is my parents. Initially, when I started off there was a lot of fear, but I feel we can’t stop and be selfish, thinking only about ourselves. I see this entire unit which is working so hard, and I don’t think we can just fold our hands and sit at home. We can’t let our entertainment industry suffer. We see people sitting at home and enjoying episodes we are offering them. So kudos to the TV industry!
You must be working under strict precautions…
We are taking amazing precautions and follow strict rules. Everyone is following it, including hair and makeup artists being in their PPE kits. There are temperature and oxygen level checks. No stone is left unturned. So you are a bit relieved. One also has to take care of the body’s immunity level and eat right. So, we are doing everything possible.
What is the biggest challenge of playing this character?
Initially, I thought it’s a subject I am not very sure I can relate to and if I fail to relate to something I am doing, it won’t translate well onscreen. But I see that my season of Naagin 5 has so many interesting twists and turns. The way the story is moving forward is so interesting. Everyday I look forward to it and want to know what I will be doing next. There is excitement, even though the show challenges me big time. There are so many interesting sequences in different settings. I have learned so much, and I know I will learn a lot more on this show.
What other challenges are you facing?
(Laughs) The biggest challenge is sacrificing on food. I am a big foodie. I have to think of the sequences and think about what I am going to be wearing. I might not eat just to fit into my Naagin outfit. Now, I don’t treat it like a challenge, because I think I am liking myself being sexier.
What can we expect from this character?
With my character Bani Sharma, everyday, I am discovering a new trait in her. I am enjoying playing her. Of course, she is bold, fierce and strong. She isn’t some damsel in distress. If she has to save someone she will and she will express herself. It is like nothing I have done in the past. I am getting to know her more deeply everyday and loving her.
Does the amazing success of previous Naagin seasons put pressure on you?
Yes, of course, it does put a lot of pressure. That is the reason I was a little apprehensive in the beginning. There has been a different flavour to every season of the show, including this one. It is extremely different. The reason I signed up for the show was the story, and I am enjoying it a lot.
So, what would you say about Ekta Kapoor as a producer?
I hated not meeting EK for a narration. Every show she starts, they all get together at the Balaji house and have a narration with EK. I regret not having that time because of Covid-19. So, I only had a zoom meeting with her. Of course, in the past we have tried working on projects, but they would kind of start and stop. I didn’t know if I would be fortunate enough to work with her and today, I am doing Naagin 5. I think any actor’s dream or the first thing on their wishlist is to work with Balaji. I am looking forward to a long association because I have always wanted to work with EK. I find her so stunning. I mean what a woman! I can just go on about her.
You looking stunning in the series, how have you decided the look?
Thank you. There is a lot going into the look to make it look stunning. I am not going to lie. I have a stylist/designer, and a creative, and both of them and I get together and decide how to make Banni look stunning. A lot of hard work goes into it. But we enjoy doing it and will make Bani look even hotter in the future. So, fans can look forward to it.
What is the acting plan going forward?
I am ready to take what my life has to offer, all with open arms. There is no set acting plan right now. But I only want to grow. I think I want to just keep growing, better my craft and better myself as a performer. That is the reason I believe in rawness. I believe that every successful show I do, I am not going to carry that baggage to the next show. I am always going to be as raw as I can be. And I think that is only going to help me improve my work. I don’t know what I will do in the future, but for now I am enjoying the space I am in. So the acting plan for now is this.
Has the Covid-19 lockdown changed you in anyway?
I don’t know if the lockdown has changed me in anyway, but I valued the couple of months I had with my mum and dad. It had been a while and I spent that quality time with my parents. I think they are at this age where they need their kid around, and I valued those few months with them. Now, I am not seeing them so often, as by the time I am home they are sleeping, and then I leave early the next morning. So I have very erratic working hours, but I miss that period of spending time with them.
How much does the fan support mean to you?
My fan support means everything to me. I am not going to deny it. I am what I am because of them. They boost me, they love me, they criticise me if they have to and if they find faults they will. They will fight with me if they have to. I don’t even call them fans, I call them family! I am what I am because of them.
Why should we tune into Naagin 5?
It is such a strong and good-looking cast, but apart from that, the storyline is really gripping. This season is so different from all the previous ones. I think I am enjoying doing what I am doing with all my conviction. I am seeing so much love that is coming towards every character on Naagin 5. I am thinking that the audiences are accepting us, in a very short span. I think eventually we will only get better and better. So, everyone should just tune in and watch the show for the gripping storyline and great cast.