By Asjad Nazir
TALENTED actress Preetika Rao has done things on her terms right from the beginning of her career and chosen to follow a path of her own creation. The popular star of blockbuster serial Beintehaa continued her journey with a return to television earlier this month in Love Ka Hai Intezaar, much to the delight of her adoring fans.
The beautiful actress is once again showing she is one of the most naturally gifted performers working in India and is already getting acclaim for the Star Plus serial. Eastern Eye caught up with Preetika to find out more about Love Ka Hai Intezaar, romance, future plans, fandom and more.
What have you been up to since Beintehaa ended?
After my first TV show Beintehaa ended I took a break for a while and travelled many places, which was fun. I was also invited to Leicester by Sabras Radio and visited the UK for the very first time. I recorded my first cover song with a music label that got me a good response. During this period I had also signed two projects with big producers, which were unfortunately canned by their respective channels. This has become rampant in the TV business due to immense competition and it wasted a lot of my time unfortunately. In March 2016 producer Siddharth Malhotra of Alchemy films contacted me for Love Ka Hai Intezaar for Star Plus and this time I was directly in contract with the channel, and was in an exclusive contract. As fate had it, I was ill with a stomach infection for almost five months, so it made sense for me to wait for this project to start as the delay was a blessing in disguise.
You must be happy Beintehaa continues to be popular around the world.
Yes I am thrilled that Beintehaa is reaching places. It was launched in Indonesia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, South Africa and earned me great popularity in these countries. I had no idea that Indian television had such reach and worldwide popularity. (Smiles) I have crazy fans now from all over the world and it feels amazing.
Why do you think Beintehaa is so popular?
I think concepts revolving around a Muslim background are rare on Indian TV screens. Plus the way the series was executed and presented and of course the love story was beautifully directed by Maan Singh. Also the character I played of a devout Muslim girl who is modern, yet holds traditional values and seeks answers to her questions from the holy Qur’an, was very endearing to people and made them call me their role model.
Your sister Amrita Rao is a Bollywood actress. How come you did not take up any offers from Bollywood?
I really don’t know what kept stopping me each time I got a Bollywood offer. It was almost intimidating. I was offered movies by Pradeep Sarkar, Kumar Taurani and Vashu Bhagnani to name a few. I also skipped the meeting for Aashiqui 2 when they were very keen to meet me. I did work in south movies, but quickly took up the TV offer as it was on Colors, which is the most popular channel in India and TV is now a huge platform there. I am open to short films, Indo-western collaboration movies and web series.
You made a stunning debut on television and have been in demand, but why have you taken so long to choose another project?
I come from a movie background and still consider myself new to television. The mostly traditional, rural and mythological concepts drive more ratings, than modern ones. It’s mostly the saas-bahu sari and sindoor concepts that appeal to the regional and rural audiences in India. Hence my generation of actors mostly find themselves stuck in characters far from their real selves. I am very choosy when it comes to selecting a subject because TV is a long time commitment and I don’t want to feel stifled in any particular role. That’s why I chose to wait so long for this show to begin.
What did you like about Love Ka Hai Intezaar that made you said yes?
I liked the fact that it is a stylish show with a lot of glamour involved. It’s not a typical Indian drama. Every frame looks like a Bollywood movie. The concept is modern and appeals to youth, something that not only I would enjoy performing as an actor, but something that even my audiences would love too watch me be a part of as well.
Tell us about the series and character you play.
I play the role of Mohini who is a young, vibrant, modern girl. She is the love child of Bollywood actress Kamini Mathur and Maharaja Madhav Singh. She joins a theatre group to get experience to train to become an actress, so that she can help to run her family. Her sister, who was a super star of yesteryear, has given up acting for 20 long years and the financial situation at home is not great anymore. Mohini believes that her family is her only priority in life. Her motto in life is that good happens to good people only when they work towards it and do not let bad happen to them. She does not believe in leaving disappointments to destiny.
What can audiences expect?
I’m sure they can expect a classy show unfolded in a TV show format. Great on-screen chemistry and an interesting drama with twists that will appeal to all generations and sensibilities.
How do you feel like you have evolved as an actor?
There are shots in which I don’t need glycerine to cry anymore. Television does make
you evolve as an actor. It puts you in so many different situations all in one series. A Bollywood actor would probably find himself in so many situations in an entire decade of roles.
The new series revolves around love. How much of a romantic are you in real life?
I am quite romantic at heart. I like to believe in love at first sight, but there is a dominant practical side to me, which keeps me away from getting into wrong relationships. I have lots of guy friends, but I have mostly been single all my life.
What qualities most impress you in a guy?
His honesty, integrity and respect for women impress me the most. I like guys who take women seriously and do not use them as an object of desire, just to have some fun in life and escape commitment.
What is your favourite love story of all time?
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam because the subject of love has been touched upon so delicately and beautifully like never before. The end was dramatic, yet so honest.
What is your favourite love song?
Film song Pehla Nasha because of its beautiful lyrics and the way Sadhana Sargam sung it makes it timeless.
Which leading man would you love to be romanced by on screen?
Ayushmann Khurrana because he is multi-talented and also sings. If I ever get to work with him we can sing a duet together. It would be so much fun.
What is happening on the musical front? Will you record any more songs?
I am already in talks for my second song and have lots of ideas in mind. Let’s hope it materialises very soon.
What is your greatest unfulfilled ambition?
There are many ambitions that are unfulfilled on the personal and career front. I am a very career oriented person and I am hoping to do some concrete acting work that is memorable for the audience.
If you could learn something new what would it be?
It would be swimming because that’s the only thing that I could not learn, but wish I could.
You have the most dedicated fans, but what has been your most memorable fan encounter?
Every fan encounter has been unique, but what touches me the most is when fans from other countries take the effort to buy me gifts and courier them to me all the way, just to bring a smile to my face. I am also impressed with every fan club and the effort that goes into building and maintaining one for an actor.
Who are you a big fan of?
I was always smitten by Aishwarya Rai as a child because I found her too perfect to be true. Even now when I see some of her movies or photographs they are magical for me.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
I was superstitious about failing my exams and hence kept a great distance from students in my class who failed often. I only mingled with toppers and felt it helped me as a student.
Why should we tune into your latest series?
(Smiles) Because it has me in it! And if you have watched my previous show and liked me as an actor you shouldn’t miss this one as this time my role will be different from what I played in the past and certainly very endearing.
Why do you love being an actor?
Nobody can teach you acting. It is a skill that you are born with and when you get a chance to perform as an actor it is the biggest creative high that you can experience. There is tremendous creative satisfaction in acting just like in dancing and singing, as both the art forms are very expressive and interactive at the same time and the audience response is almost immediate.
Give a message for your fans.
I feel bad that I had to make my fans wait for long before they could see me back on their screens, but now I am shooting long hours again and working so hard for them. I hope that they love my work and my new show and continue to encourage me like they have in my journey as an actor.