'But Hansal sir stood by me.'
'He said he saw the same hunger in my audition that Jigna Vora had.'
'He felt I needed to prove my worth just like Jigna did.'
Karishma Tanna plays journalist Jigna Vora in Hansal Mehta's new Web series Scoop, streaming on Netflix.
"If you are a go-getter in your profession, your motivations can be misconstrued, as it was with Jigna. If this is the price she had to pay, what can one say?", Karishma tells Subhash K Jha.
Your performance in Scoop is going to be a game-changer for you. Did you meet the real Jigna Vora?
I didn't meet Jigna until the end of our schedules.
Hansal sir was very clear that he wanted to keep my interpretation of the character as open as possible because it was inspired by Jigna's book (Behind Bars In Byculla: My Days In Prison). Hansal sir didn't want me to copy her characteristics.
He wanted me to interpret the character in my own way.
What was your first reaction when you were offered the role?
When I read the script, I was bowled over.
Each character was written in detail.
After reading the script, I was allowed to colour the character's graph in my own way. I was given that liberty to emote the way I wanted to.
Does Hansal give room for actors to improvise?
Yes. that makes the actors comfortable. Otherwise, if the director gives very close instructions, the performance looks stiff.
You couldn't have come out unscathed from playing this character.
I didn't. When I read about the case online, I was deeply affected.
She (Jigna) was in jail for nine months.
It was very heartbreaking to know about what she went through.
She had a nine-year-old son and she was in jail for a crime she had not committed.
I did a lot of research and, of course, Hansal sir did a lot of research too. But we have dramatised the real events a bit.
That is bound to happen?
Yes, this girl has a lot of layers.
This journalist was a quite a go-getter. Did she cross the line?
If you are a go-getter in your profession, your motivations can be misconstrued, as it was with Jigna. If this is the price she had to pay, what can one say?
As an actor, how much did you relate with your character's ambitions?
(Laughs) I am ambitious too, a go-getter and passionate about my work. But I am not crazily ambitious like Jigna was. I know where to draw the line.
I was never desperate for work. I was happy with whatever work God gave me.
Whatever is written in my destiny is bound to happen. I know I will finally get what I deserve.
Did the trauma of your character affect you?
When I was on set, I was totally in character.
Hats off to the art director for making the jail look so real.
The actors, who played jail inmates, actually looked like inmates.
The jail personnel who strips me is Rasika Agashe, the wife of Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, who plays my newspaper editor.
We shot this sequence first, so I felt vulnerable.
I was wondering why my character was being frisked and humiliated when she had done nothing wrong.
I have never seen Zeeshan play such an urban sophisticated character before.
Neither have I. I loved teasing Zeeshan on set.
He is such an introvert. I loved provoking him out of his shell.
I share a beautiful relationship with Zeeshan and Harman Baweja.
Harman and I have known each other for ages.
Whether it is Zeeshan or any other character, Hansal saw things that other directors can't.
How else did he see me playing this character?
I heard a lot of actresses wanted my role, but Hansal sir stood by me.
He said he saw the same hunger in my audition that Jigna Vora had.
He felt I needed to prove my worth just like Jigna did.
Your networking skills are very inept?
(Laughs) I have stopped going to parties and awards functions just for the heck of it.
I am not made that way.
I was never desperate to get noticed.