'I've always been choosy because I'm not a one-size-fit-all actor.'
Basking in the success of Made In Heaven 2, Mona Singh looks back at her 20-year-old journey right from Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin.
"This industry has taught me a lot of patience," Mona tells Subhash K Jha.
"I have said no to roles I did not want to do, to shows I did not want to be a part of. I'm glad I've been choosy because here I am, celebrating my success in Made In Heaven."
What a journey it has been for you! How do you look back on your career so far?
My God, what can I say?
It has been a spectacular journey.
I have completed 20 years in the industry, and I've had the smoothest transition from TV to OTT and films.
So yes, here I am, and I plan to keep surprising myself and my loved ones with the work that I do.
I plan to keep entertaining viewers and fans who have watched me since 2002, and supported and loved me.
Was it difficult for you to break out of Jassi and to find challenging opportunities?
I was very sure that I would not be taking up another daily soap right after Jassi because people will always have comparisons.
I also knew that there could not be anything bigger than Jassi on TV for me.
So I started hosting and participating in shows.
I did a lot of theatre and then the smooth transition to films and OTT.
Of course, I did a few more serials, but it was after a long gap.
But I didn't do many because as an actor, it was important to connect with the kind of shows I wanted to do.
I didn't want to be a part of the saas-bahu politics.
Would you say the OTT is a blessing for talented actors like you?
Oh yes! Look at the kind of work we are getting to see, the kind of writing on OTT.
There are so many Hindi shows that I've been watching.
I love Tillotama Shome, Shefali Shah...
People are giving me so much love and work.
I'm so glad that people have embraced OTT in such a big way.
People don't have cable connections anymore to watch TV.
Do you finally have the luxury to choose the roles you want to do?
I've always been choosy because I'm not a one-size-fit-all actor.
When makers cast me, my role has to be well etched out.
If you look at my career graph, I have been pretty choosy.
I have not been a part of mundane shows.
I have not done anything and everything just because as an actor, I need to be seen.
This industry has taught me a lot of patience.
I have said no to roles I did not want to do, to shows I did not want to be a part of.
I'm glad I've been choosy because here I am, celebrating my success in Made In Heaven.
Now, with so much work pouring in, I'm spoilt for choices.
I have six shows lined up.
I've already had three releases from last year till now, including Laal Singh, Kafas and Made In Heaven.
We saw you playing a very different woman kind of woman in Kafas.
I'm getting so much love for Kafas, and now so much love for Bulbul.
But nobody has pointed out any similarities. I don't see any similarities either.
Seema Vashishtha (in Kafas) was grey. She was living vicariously through her son. She was pushing him to become an actor and fulfill her dreams.
Somewhere, I also feel that Seema Vashishtha wasn't really a fighter.
She got her wings a little later. She found the courage a little later.
And yes, she was fighting for justice for her son for what had happened.
As far as Bulbul is concerned, she was totally sassy and shrewd and a proper business woman, street-smart, courageous, gutsy and very very intuitive.
How did you get the chance to play the fascinating Bulbul in Made In Heaven?
I remember it was 2021, during the lockdown. My husband was down with COVID and we had taken up a place in Goa.
I got a call from Tiger Baby Productions and Excel and I just couldn't believe my ears.
I was like, Are you serious? You're calling me for Made In Heaven? Because, you know, as a viewer, when I watched the show, I was thinking why am I not there?
I need to do such shows and work with these makers. They're the best in the business.
I auditioned for Bulbul and the audition was on Zoom, which was so new for us.
I auditioned for two scenes, one was an emotional one and one was a sassy one.
Within a week, I heard back from Nandini (Shrikent), our casting director, welcoming me on board.
Your forthcoming projects?
I have a show releasing, I think, in October on Netflix. It's being directed by Sameer Saxena, one of my favourite directors.
I worked with him in a Web series called Yeh Meri Family, which did really well and got a lot of love in Season One.
This is my second show with him, and is called Kaala Paani. It's a thriller, something I've never done before.
I've also done a movie which should be releasing next year.
I've done a show, which should be out in December.
I cannot give out too many details.
Currently, as we speak, I'm shooting for one more series.