THE TV STAR ON HER TERRIFIC VILLAINOUS TURNS, LATEST SUCCESS AND BIG DREAM
by ASJAD NAZIR
A THRIVING 23-year career has seen Tassnim Sheikh light up Indian television with powerful performances in successful serials that include all-time classics such as Kkusum, Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Kumkum – Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
One of the greatest on-screen Indian antagonists of all time, she is currently playing a negative role in smash hit Star Plus serial Anupamaa, which has pulled in big audiences since it premiered in 2020. It is the latest interesting chapter for a versatile small-screen star, who is able to take on any challenge.
Eastern Eye caught up with Tassnim Sheikh to discuss her acting journey, Anupamaa success, being bad onscreen and future hopes.
How do you look back on your time in television?
I started working in 1997 and since then, it has been a beautiful journey. God has been very kind. So far, I have done some amazing characters on very good shows on Indian television, which people still remember. I am very thankful to this industry as it is where I found my husband and family. This TV industry has become my family. Today, when I look back at my journey, I can smile with all my heart.
You have played many memorable characters, but which one is closest to your heart?
The first that comes to my mind is Jyoti from Kkusum, where I played a positive role. Jyoti was exactly like how I am in real life, so playing her was never a performance for me. When I entered this industry, I was slightly scared and nervous, but hoped to prove I was very hardworking. Secondly, I always remember Renuka from Kumkum. This was a negative character and a game-changer for me. Playing this negative character created a whole different image of me in the industry and the perspective changed. Till date, I am doing negative roles.
One of the most classic was Mohini in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi…
Mohini is a character I still miss. It was the most loved negative character on TV. The response I used to get for her are similar to what I get now for Rakhi Dave (in Anupamaa), which is a character I will cherish and a favourite. Rakhi Dave is a strong-headed person, who is very caring towards her child and someone who wants to maintain standards for herself, as well as her family. She is one such negative character who is supported and loved in spite of being dark.
Which of your other characters have you enjoyed?
Of course, Ruqaiya Begum was my first character in a costume drama (Dastaan-E-Mohabbat: Salim Anarkali), and I loved her. Through her, I experienced the aura of a surrounding like Sheesh Mahal and being the queen. I wanted to feel that era and the set was so beautiful that I have no words, but to cherish all the memories that are close to my heart.
What has the experience of starring in Anupamaa meant?
I took up this show just because it belongs to Rajan Shahi’s productions. He is one producer who I really wanted to work with. After my daughter was born and I took a break, I saw the journey of Rajan sir as a producer with the content he made. So, I wanted to make a comeback with his production and am so grateful. When I got the briefing of this character, I was still not sure whether I should do it, as it was not in the main family and all the characters who I have taken up till date have belonged to the main family.
What made you agree?
I followed Rajan Shahi sir’s conviction. He said, “Tassnim, you should take this; you will really enjoy it”, and I said, yes. I am so thankful. Today, the cast and crew are like my second family. I love shooting and being on set and learning from our senior actors like Alpanaji and Bapuji. Sudhanshu is bliss and of course, Rupali, as we are old friends, so we enjoy a lot together.
How much does the success of the show mean to you?
For any actor, the success of a show means a lot and thank god, I have been really blessed to be part of one of the best shows. My shows have performed really well, topping the viewing charts. I feel like a blessed child to have been a part of such wonderful shows in my journey, be it Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kkusum, Kumkum or the current one Anupamaa.
Is it more fun for you to be playing a negative character?
Yes, playing a negative character has been super fun. As an actor, I get to express so many emotions like love, anger and hatred. A negative character can express all kinds of emotions and expressions within a free space, and I completely love and enjoy playing negative shaded characters.
What inspires you as an actor?
I have a hunger for performing the best I can and in as many roles, because good work keeps me going. Experimenting with my length of expressions is something I love. I have always tried to bring in something different with all the characters I have portrayed. I try picking up different characters and work on them to make people either love them or hate them. I am always looking out for the best I can give with every single take, in terms of expressions and things that make my character unique.
You bring uniqueness really well…
Although all my roles have been fundamentally different, I have still tried to make them unique by adding my own nuances, be it Mohini, Renuka or Rakhi Dave. Every character has its own different shade and significance, which audiences have always appreciated. Yes, the feedback and love that my audience has given me for every performance and character make me do more than before. They inspire me every single day to be better from the previous one. I feel blessed and grateful.
Did you make a new year’s resolution?
No, I never make new year resolutions because I believe in the ‘go with the flow of life’ concept. I am the kind of person that if I decide to do something, then it has to happen for sure.
What would be your dream role?
Honestly speaking, deep inside my heart, my only one dream is to work with Shah Rukh Khan sir in a film. He is one actor who I love and one day for sure, I want to work with him.
Why do you love being an actor?
Since childhood, I was very fond of watching movies and performing the way those actors did. I felt that acting is only what I am passionate about early on. I did software engineering, but I landed up working in this industry; maybe destiny always wanted me to be an actor. So, performing is my passion and I love being able to live so many characters, and get recognition from people. Today, whatever I have in my life is all because of my television fraternity and this industry. I am very thankful.