Power of love.


THE amazing success of Ishqbaaaz has been a huge turning point for leading lady Surbhi
Chandna and helped turn her into one of the biggest stars on Indian television.

The actress has shown off her range as a performer in the hit serial, become a fashion icon
and won a stack of trophies, including at the recent Star Parivaar Awards. But the small-screen star hasn’t let success go to her head and works hard on a serial that has clocked up nearly 700 episodes in less than two and-a-half years.

Surbhi was in high spirits and on fine form when Eastern Eye caught up with her to talk about the spectacular success of Ishqbaaaz, and she revealed some interesting secrets about herself.

You just won a load of honours at the Star Parivaar Awards. How much do the honours mean to you? 
Last year we were relatively new. We have now gone through a journey of nearly two
and-a-half years on the show, so I wasn’t expecting anything, honestly. All the awards
that came my way that night made me feel so blessed. But more than me, my mom
was on top of the world and feels so proud.

Surbhi with co-star Nakul with their Star Parivaar Awards

Honestly speaking, this success is all thanks to the fans. Their support is such a beautiful feeling and I understand the kind of madness fans of Ishqbaaaz and Shivika [a combination of the names of her character Anika and Shivaay, the male lead role played by Nakuul Mehta] have. I have seen it on social media and I think that is why we won a lot of the awards. Secretly I was hoping to win, because we all work so hard on the show.

It is a unique show.
Yes, if we compare Ishqbaaaz and other shows, there are many things that differentiate
us from them, including our show being styled so beautifully. A lot of my friends tell me, ‘we watch it for you, but also to see what new clothes you will be wearing and what colour
liner’. I recently wore a yellow sari and a blue liner – people would be sceptical to try something like that, but I go all out because of the confidence I have in the styling team. I
trust them and they totally have trust in me to carry off anything. Being on a serial like
that, where you get to do different things every day from story to look, it’s nice, and it is presented in such a unique manner.

Why do you think it is so successful?
There are a lot of factors, Asjad. I didn’t know what to expect when we started off because it was my first outing as a lead. I had done a parallel lead before, but this was an out-and-out lead. They are such beautifully sketched characters and everyone is so up for the roles they are playing. I cannot see anyone else playing my fellow cast members’ characters except them, as they are so good. Shivaay and Anika are so beautifully written. Both are different personalities, but so strong-headed and have such crackling chemistry.

Having a great team must help immensely.
Oh, it does. (Director) Lalit Mohan comes with so much schooling and the kind of work he puts into every scene is amazing, including how he uses each frame. The crew will be instructed in a specific way to create things like special lighting for the show. Add to that the styling, make-up, dialogues and everything else. The whole team is so talented. All these make Ishqbaaaz different. My friends have said it looks more like a film than a TV show.

Ishqbaaaz has reached nearly 700 episodes. How do you cope with such a demanding work schedule?
I have trained myself to cope with the long hours and have never had a problem. I am
really hardworking and am proud of that. I am very passionate about my work and will go all out when I am given a certain job. That is how I am and if tomorrow someone tells me to do superficial or surface-level acting, I cannot do it. I have to feel a scene to do it. That is my struggle every day. That is Nakuul’s and everyone else’s struggle too every day. Everyone is so prepared when they are on set. No one does surface-level acting.

Surbhi with Ishqbaaaz co-actors

Does having such a talented group of actors make it easier for you?
Yes, it does. We all work hard and when we see the appreciation, even the criticism, everything is taken on board so positively. It is encouraging, it means audiences are
watching and looking forward to the performances. So you just can’t be superficial.
You need actors all on the same page. That keeps me going. I don’t have a personal life
and try to take a few days, maybe once in three-four months, when I don’t think about
work. I also have a very supportive family. If they are happy with what you are doing and
back you, it reflects in the work. The kind of love I am getting right now tells me I am doing something right.

What else inspires you?
(Laughs) I am so busy that I don’t have time to think of any inspiration right now. I am neck deep in work. My main motivation is the happiness of my parents. The joy on their faces when they see the kind of awards in my cabinet and the love I am getting is inspiring. It motivates and makes me work 10 times harder. It keeps me going. Having that backing is so important. I have so many friends whose parents are against the industry. With the Me Too campaign, they are worried about their daughters. But my family support me.

How much has having that support early on shaped you?
It has, immensely. My parents said, ‘finish your education and then you are ok to do whatever you want.’ I had to go with that. Today I have the security of an MBA in
marketing because of them, so if acting doesn’t work out, I have something else I
can look forward to. Our industry is unpredictable, I am here today and can be elsewhere
tomorrow. But I am well educated and know what else I can do with my life.

You are a hero to many, but who would you say is your hero?
I haven’t really thought about that, but honestly it would be my parents, there is no denying that. I believe in God a lot too. Not too many people know that I am very spiritual. I have certain rituals before I step out of the house and when I return. The gods give me a lot of strength and are my heroes. I believe that I draw my strength from a higher power. I try to pray every night before I go to sleep, that I can keep myself away from any negativity. We work in a field where there will be amazing and terrible days, so I just want
to keep away from the negativity and bring in the positive.

Tell us something not many people know about you?
Like I said, that I believe in God. Everyone knows that I am a big foodie and that is not hidden. I have a terrible fetish for shoes, which is one thing people would not know. (Laughs) I have cupboards that are dedicated only to shoes, so I think I have a shoe fetish.

When will you come to London?
I have been wanting to come to London. I was invited last year for the AVTAs (Asian Viewers Television awards), but since Nakuul was travelling, one of us had to stay back – when Nakuul travels, Surbhi has to stay. (Laughs) When I am travelling, he has to be here, working his ass off. But I hope to take holidays soon, and will happily come to London if I get an invitation to visit.

How much do your fans means to you?
I have been trying to understand and analyse the kind of madness we get. I have realised they go all out and really fight for you. They notice everything. It is love that I totally understand, absorb and appreciate. I am happy to receive all of it. They inspire me so much.

Finally, would you like to give us a message for them?
The only thing I have to say to them is I am because they are. I am because of them. Very honestly, I have seen them fight for me and want that energy to stay for always. I just want them to stand by me every time. My mom is a very avid reader of their comments on Twitter. Sometimes she spends the entire night reading their tweets and keeps telling me
to reply. (Laughs) She is probably following you. She keeps instilling in me that there is a lot of love out there. I just want that love to stay with me and tomorrow if I made the move from TV to films, I hope it comes with me.