I am glad that K-gang has fallen: Niki Walia
Niki Walia marks her return with a cameo in Ajai Sinha’s daily 'Ghar Ek Sapnaa'.
A exclusive interview with the gorgeous actress...
It’s been three years since you’ve last faced the camera. Was it tough to get back into the groove?
Yes, there were apprehensions. Though, I had left with a very good feeling among my fans, that doesn’t guarantee that when you return after three years they’ll accept you straightaway.
In the first two shots, I was nervous as hell. By the third shot, I’d started to warm up and in the next shot Niki was back. It helped that I had done my homework.
Why did you pick an existing show to make your comeback?
I’ve been asked this question by many. For me there are two reasons to do this show. A – It’s an Ajai Sinha show. B – being cast opposite Harsh Chhaya. Before I was told about my character, I was delighted to know that I’ll return by being paired with an actor of my calibre.
Tell us something about your character?
I was firm in my mind that I want to return by playing a modern character. I did not want to make a comeback where I was required to wear saris. Throughout my career, I’ve played varied characters. Simi is totally different from Simran ('Asttva'). She’s a lawyer and a single mother who’s returned from UK, thus she’ll have to act like one. Also, with this character, I hope to bring back adult romantic stories.
Your role is bound to have an impact on the show. Can we say that Simi is now the protagonist of 'Ghar Ek Sapnaa'?
No, I won’t like to fool my audiences. Besides, there’s no such thing as main lead when you’re doing a show which is based on an entire family. Each character has its own importance. I’m purely playing a cameo. If my audience accepts me then I might consider extending it. At the moment, I’m just giving 10 days a month for work.
It was earlier buzzed that Ajai Sinha wanted to cast you for his new show. Is it true?
Ajai had offered two different shows. Unfortunately, one of them (Anchui) failed to take off. The other show is the one that was meant for Imagine. Here, I was to play the role of a celebrity who is the story teller. Usually, one just goes with the voice but Ajai wanted to introduce a character. I’m told that show has been delayed.
Apparently, it’s heard that the show is now out of Imagine?
I too have heard that there has been a certain discrepancy between the channel and production. But knowing Ajai, he’s one who has always stuck to his guns and never gone by trends. Having said that, every channel has a right to voice its opinion.
While in UK did you follow Indian television?
Yes, I do. Saas, bahu aur saazish is my guide. I love watching Agle janam mohe bitiya kijo. I like watching reality shows, in particularly Dance India Dance. I’ve been a regular follower of Saregamapa. I’ve heard great things about Balika Vadhu. Unfortunately, we don’t get Colors in the UK.
Among the international programmes, I watch Gilmore Girls, Got Talent and Big Brother.
Apart from watching, I remained connected to TV by anchoring a show titled Zee and U that is meant for the local audience.
What do you make of Indian television today?
I’m glad that the K-gang has fallen. They were taking us 80 years back. However, despite the re-emergence of social content, our soaps are still very regressive. Women are still being portrayed as submissive and sweet. 18-20 year-old girls are playing double their age. They are clad with 30-kilo saris and heavy make-up. What shocks me is that every college girl is becoming an actor. The focus today is more on youth but I want to bring back the adult storylines.
The channels and most producers don’t woo the seasoned pros because they are said to be expensive.
Well, that’s true. I know many of my friends are sitting idle. But the channels are making tons of money so why can’t actors like us get their due? By picking them, you’re assured of getting value for your money.
You pick young girls but where’s the quality? They may look pretty with size zero figures but they lack in personality. Women generally mature when they are 26-27. That’s the time when they unearth their personality. Playing a 40- year-old when they are just barely 20, they simply can’t do justice to the character.
It’s not that we (seasoned actors) don’t look good. You look at someone like Deepshikha, she still looks like a bomb. What I don’t understand is that when they are good 30 and 40-year-olds, why you don’t take them? All I know is that, if you’re a good actor then you’ll never lose your place in the industry.
You’ve been a successful TV actor but the same cannot be said about your short film career. Why is that you’ve restrained your talent when it came to films?
I’ve never asked for work and have just accepted whatever good has come my way. I was offered many films but I turned down most of them as I never felt comfortable then. At the start of my career, I was offered an international film where the script required me to play bold scenes. After a lot of soul searching, I refused the offer. I was picked to play Kashmira Shah’s role in Yes Boss. I even shot for five days but then I requested the producer to relieve me and I even promised to compensate him. Poor guy is such a wonderful soul that he didn’t accept any money and happily let me go.
There’s something called being at the right place at the right time. I guess I couldn’t do that with my film career.
You’ve often been referred as Madhuri Dixit’s clone. Are you comfortable with it?
Well, the irony is that the whole world thinks in that breath but neither Madhuri nor I think that way. We bumped into each other once while on flight. Both of us were travelling to Delhi to receive our Kalakriti awards. Our eyes met at the checking counter and for the next few minutes we looked at each other carefully. I was pleasantly surprised when she triggered the conversation by saying that are you Niki my look alike. (She was aware of my shows). We happened to sit besides each other in the plane and during the entire flight we just kept discussing how we don’t look similar. However, our respective mothers, who were accompanying us, thought exactly the opposite. I’ve never compared myself with anyone so there’s no question of feeling uncomfortable.
Your father has been your mentor all along. Who do you look up to after he passed away?
It’s still him! He never left me. I’m not saying this out of any spirituality. He’s like a guiding force that is there every time when I need to take a decision. We’ve never addressed each other as father or daughter. I called him motu while he called me moti. Even though he’s not with me he’s gone up and told God that let this girl’s life strings remain in my hand. After him, if there’s someone comes close to him then it’s my husband.
How’s life in the UK?
It’s been more beautiful after the birth of my twins – Sean and Sabrina. In the last three years, they’ve occupied most of my time. Also, they keep me fit as I have to run after them in opposite directions. My mother-in-law and I are best buddies. Though I may be celebrity, but at home we’re like a normal family. My husband sometimes wonders whether he’s really married a celebrity.
Do have fans there too?
In fact, I have more fans in UK than in India. Whenever, I got to stores, people look at me quizzically and then ask are you Niki - the TV actor? Well, that’s the biggest achievement for any actor. Even now when I returned to India, I have received such tremendous welcome. It’s they who make you and I’m thankful to them for being loyal to me.
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