By Asjad Nazir
POPULAR ACTRESS TALKS ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF JOINING A HIT SITCOM
SMALL-SCREEN star Sunayana Fozdar has been delivering winning performances since making her debut in superb Star Plus drama serial Santaan in 2007 and has since starred in a wide array of terrific TV projects.
The talented actress thinks it has been a fulfilling fruitful journey, which has enabled her to grow as a performer and person. She has valued the downs because they have enabled her to appreciate the many highs, which includes joining super-hit sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah in 2020 and seamlessly taking over a popular role previously played by someone else.
Eastern Eye caught up with Sunayana to discuss her journey, challenges of joining a hit show, comedy, inspirations and working in lockdown.
Which of your roles is closest to your heart?
The question is a little unfair. Santaan is always going to be close to my heart because that was my first show and I got to play such a strong character. But having said that, I have played so many varieties of characters such as Priyanka in Ek Rishta Saajhedari Ka and Shalini in Belan Wali Bahu, which was a crazy, mad character. Now I am doing Anjali, which has a lot of responsibility.
How did you feel after joining legendary show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah?
I feel blessed. I have immense respect and gratitude for my producer Asit sir for seeing Anjali in me and bestowing immense responsibility on me. I feel blessed that people are giving me so much love and value it. I value every single fan and without them I am nothing. They motivate me to do better and give my best. There’s nothing, but gratitude and love in my heart.
What was it like taking over a character played for so long by someone else?
There is a little bit of pressure, but the pressure is good because it makes me be better and work harder. It will not ever let me become lazy or take my work for granted, so I love the pressure my character Anjali has brought for me. It is never easy replacing someone else because a loyal audience is emotionally attached to them. I promised people I would try my best to keep them happy and entertained. People who love me, I love them too. Those who don’t love me, I love them more because they are going to help me grow. I can only promise people that I am going to eventually make a place in their heart.
You seem to be enjoying the challenge?
There is a lot of responsibility, but I am loving it. There is love for people even if they criticise me because I know they expect a lot from the show. So, it is exciting for me to keep going because there is this pressure and immense popularity that the show has. So, I have a drive in me to win everybody’s heart.
What has the experience of working on the show been like?
The experience of working on Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah has been nothing less than amazing. For me, my set is like a temple, and there is honestly a temple on the set. I feel positive, happy and blessed, which I keep saying all the time. I feel so grateful because the team has been so welcoming, including all the actors who have been there for 12-14 years. They have helped on a personal and professional level. They knew there would be a certain pressure and went out of their way to help me. People on set, including production, want each other to grow. They treated me like a new baby on the set. I hope it continues to be like that.
Why do you think the show is so popular?
It has so many great characters and is so relatable. Everybody sees a part of themselves in the characters. After a heavy day you can unwind yourself by watching the show and relax; just leave all your mental baggage and enjoy it. The show gives out a great message in a simplified way. Also, it is educating people in a very fun way and is one show you can watch with the whole family.
How does comedy compare to other genres?
Comedy is not as easy as it may seem. It is in fact the toughest. It’s easy to make someone cry, but it’s difficult to make them laugh. Emotional scenes are universal, while comedy is subjective because one person may laugh at something and another person may not find it funny. So, it is difficult to make people laugh. It requires a lot of intelligence to be funny. A lot of improvisation can happen and timing is important.
Who is your comedy hero?
Govinda Ji is my alltime favourite comic hero! Despite being a hero, he never shied away from laughing at himself. No one can compare to him. Whenever I watch his movies, even today, I am in splits. He is so good at what he does. His comic timing and expressions are unbeatable. I take a lot of inspiration from him when it comes to acting and even dancing.
What is it like working in lockdown?
Working in lockdown is a big blessing. Many of us have not worked in the past year, so I have a lot of gratitude. There are so many things you have to keep in mind and need to be very careful. The production house has many precautions and safety measures, while we are shooting. So, it’s not easy for anyone. But at the same time, we feel blessed to work in the pandemic because a lot of people have lost their jobs. We keep thanking God every day that we have work.
What do you enjoy watching as an audience member?
As an audience, I love watching romantic movies. I am a big romantic at heart and love emotional movies. I love complicated love stories too.
What inspires you as an actress?
I take a lot of inspiration from real-life people and feel they are real-life heroes too. Inspiration comes from a lot of small things. It could be from my maid, who is managing so many things. It could be from a co-actor, my mother or mother-in-law. I observe a lot and keep in mind real-life incidents and people when I am performing.