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'It is a matter of pride to be part of a Salman Khan production'

By Rajul Hegde
Last updated on: September 04, 2015 09:22 IST
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Right now, actress Anita Hassanandani is riding the waves of popularity as Shagun, the negative-turned-positive character she plays in the hit television serial, Yeh Hai Mohabbatein.

Come 10 pm on September 5, she will don a new avatar on a new show, Comedy Nights Bachao, that will air on Colors TV.

Anita, who will be attempting comedy for the first time, co-stars with laughter veterans like Mubeen Saudagar, Sudesh Lahiri, Sara Khan, Bharti Singh, Karan Wahi, Pritam Singh, Shruti Seth, Shakeel Siddiqui, Pooja Bose and Naseem Vicky.

The show will also feature celebrity guests, who will be politely roasted by this comic team. 

Anita, who is nervous about her new avatar, tells Rajul Hegde/ why she hopes it will be a success.

What was your reaction when you were offered to Comedy Nights Bachao?

I said 'yes' in excitement but when I went back home and discussed it with my husband (Rohit Reddy), I asked him, 'How will I manage?'

He told me that even while accepting Shagun's role in Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, I was hesitant as it was a negative role. But I managed to pull it off well.

After receiving so much love from the audience, I am ready to start a new chapter through this show. Comedy is something that I have not tried before.

In real life. people say that I have a decent sense of humour but it's only with the close friends.

In a show like this, I am sure it will get better after five-six episodes.

Do you think this show will help change the perception people have about you?

Actually that's one of the main reasons I am doing the show. It will help to open me up.

I want to change the perception people have about me.

I am a happy-go-lucky person. I have decent sense of humour and I love it when people crack jokes about me.

Which Bollywood star would you like to invite on the show?

Shah Rukh Khan is really witty. He is somebody who can laugh at himself and take jokes in a very positive way.

He is a superstar and it would be a delight to perform in front of him.

Would you like to invite your good friend and mentor Ekta Kapoor (producer and head of Balaji Telefilms) on the show?

I would love to but I don't think she will come.

I am playing Ekta kapoor in one of the episodes. I will dress like her with the teeka and the rings. I will be acting like her, especially when she is angry and, of course, how she behaves with people as a producer, which I will do in a funny way.

I will obviously try and do my best because I have known her for years.  I have already told her about it. She laughed and said you must do it. She is a sport.

Your negative role as Shagun is well appreciated by the audiences.

The beauty of Shagun's character lies in the fact that she is hated and loved at the same time.

Right now the character is positive is in the show, but she can be bad at any time if someone messes with her.

Image: Anita Hassanandani with her husband Rohit Reddy. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar

How is life after marriage?

It's beautiful. My luck has changed. I feel content. I would read and hear that marriage completes you; it actually does (smiles). My husband has been so supportive.

I would say my second innings as an actress actually started after marriage. My in-laws too are very nice. They get excited about the roles I do more than me.

You married someone from outside the industry.

Honestly, the job I do has zero security. My bank balance has come down from Rs 50 lakhs to no money at all.

Let me clarify that my husband is not a rich banker. He is a hardworking banker. He works for the bank (smiles).

Tell us about your role in Hero.

I have a small role in the film. I play Athiya Shetty's bhabhi (sister-in-law).

It is a matter of pride to be part of a Salman Khan production.

I didn't get to meet him as he didn't come on the sets. But everybody treated me with respect; it was lovely.

Do you regret that you didn't get good roles after your film, Kuch Toh Hai (2003, directed by Anurag Basu and Anil V Kumar, starring Tusshar Kapoor)?

I had lost my father. I had no support. I was a nobody and I was struggling.

At that time, the Rs 25,000 cheque I got every month during (the television serialKabhii Sautan Kabhii Sahelii was a matter of pride.

When I think about where I started from, the fact that my films were flopping didn't matter that much.

At the same time, I have to say was very depressed when Koi Aap Sa (starring Aftab Shivdasani, this was also an Ekta Kapoor production) flopped but then it's your destiny.

I have worked hard and have no regrets. I don't have the habit of looking back.

Now I am happily married and content with life.

Your film Yeh Dil did moderately well.

I did the Telugu version of Yeh Dil and it was a big hit.

They decided to make it in Hindi without me and I cried for weeks. Since I was fat then, they said they won't take me.

So I went to the Tirupati temple and, with every step that I climbed, I said, 'God, this is not fair because it's my film.' They had taken actress Tara Sharma and shot for 40 days. When I walked down from the temple, I got a call from the director saying, 'Tara can't perform, it's a difficult role so you are doing it.'

After that, I have belief. I started visiting Tirupati regularly. Even after my marriage, I went to Tirupati first (Incidentally, Ekta Kapoor who has produced Anita's television serials and movies, is an ardent Tirupati devotee).

Has Ekta Kapoor offered you any of her upcoming films?

I am really glad that she has always thought of me. Whatever I am today is all because of her. I didn't know I could act. I understood that only after working in her show (Kabhii Sautan Kabhii Sahelii).

I was so young (she was 16 years old) when I started working. At that age, you have no direction.

As a family, Ekta and her mom Shobha aunty have given me that direction and I am really grateful to them.

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Rajul Hegde / in Mumbai