News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Movies » 'It's insane the kind of love I got'

'It's insane the kind of love I got'

December 28, 2023 14:13 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'Any flight I take, the crew write personal notes to me, saying how good I was as Soudamini or Seema or Bulbul.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Mona Singh/Instagram

In her two-decade career, Mona Singh has dabbled with all entertainment platforms -- television, films, short films, reality shows, theatre and OTT.

2023 was special as she scored a hat-trick with three major OTT shows and became the shining star of streaming with impressive performances.

The year opened with Kafas, where she played Seema Vashisht, a mother who makes a difficult choice between morality and money.

In Made In Heaven 2, she was Bulbul Jauhari, a bold and feisty businesswoman, who hides her vulnerability under a tough exterior.

In Kaala Paani, she became Dr Soudamini Singh, who finds herself amidst the chaos of the outbreak of a mysterious illness.

Three equally diverse shows and characters, and Mona was unanimously praised for each.

"2023 has been a very surreal year for me.'
'I had experienced this kind of high just once, 20 years ago, during Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi.," Mona Singh tells Mayur Sanap/

How would you describe this 20-year-old journey that started with your star-making turn in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi in 2003?

When I came into the industry, I was very sure of one thing: I don't want to be one-show wonder.

I kept reinventing myself with time.

I'm one of the few actors who has managed not only to act on TV, but also host as well as participate in reality shows.

As a TV actor, I had almost done everything. I felt there was a need to do something else.

That was a time when I took the plunge and started doing English theatre with Rael Padamsee.

Eventually OTT came up, and I started doing Web shows from 2017.

I feel grateful that in these 20 years, I have worked with the best of directors and actors.

A lot of hard work has gone into these last 20 years, but it's very, very fulfilling.

You must be happy the way things turned out this year.

I'm ecstatic!

It rarely happens that an actor has three back-to-back releases and all three are much appreciated.

People got to see me in three different shades. There's much love from people on Instagram and everywhere else.

Any flight I take, the flight attendants and crew write personal notes to me, saying how good I was as Soudamini or Seema or Bulbul.

It's insane the kind of love I got.

I had no releases until Laal Singh Chadha came out in 2022. From 2019 to 2022, I was just shooting. I was waiting for people to witness these shows.

So 2023 has been a very surreal year for me.

I had experienced this kind of high just once, 20 years ago, during Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi.

IMAGE: Mona Singh and Apurva Agnihotri in Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin.

How difficult was the waiting period to land such an opportunity?

That is never easy, but it is always better to wait than to jump into something you will regret later.

This industry teaches you patience. So, I waited patiently.

I have learned the art of saying no to things I don't want to do.

So yes, I have waited it out.

And yes, it is difficult to wait it out.

But I have worked on myself while I was waiting.

I travelled.

I watched shows.

I read books.

I practiced yoga.

I meditated.

I have been looking after myself.

Now, the time has come where there are scripts lying at home that I have not even read.

I am busy and so happy and so grateful.

Do you think your talent has been under-utilised? Is it finally changing?

Well, I wouldn't say so.

I've never really been out of work; I've consistently worked for the last 20 years.

It's just that these three shows were a complete standout and now people are appreciating me for all the things that I wanted to express as an actor.

OTT completely changed the game for actors like me, actors who were not getting the kind of work that they wanted to do.

Now we are getting everything now on a platter.

IMAGE: Mona as Dr Soudamini Singh in Kaala Paani.

What does 2024 hold for you?

I'm very happy that the makers are approaching me with all different kinds of challenges.

2024 is even more exciting because I'm doing something that I've never done before.

And there's so much to explore for women. We are not cast just for being a damsel in distress and a hero will come for rescue. And thank God for that.

There are new narratives for women, and I'm absolutely celebrating that.

IMAGE: Mona as Bulbul Jauhari in Made In Heaven 2.

Let's talk about Made In Heaven 2. I thought yours was a standout character in that show.
Bulbul is someone who has seen the ugly side of life, and that experience has only made her tougher and more aware. She is a staunch feminist and the way she walks and talks exude feminine flamboyance.
How much of this was in the writing and how much was your own interpretation?

See, of course, it was very well written and a complete treat for any actor to play this character.

I was very lucky that I was cast to play the part.

But yes, I had to do a lot of work to match up!

I've been a fan of the makers. I've been a fan of the franchise, so I was coming with that extra stress of performing.

I worked a lot. I kept reading the script. I kept understanding the body language: What should it be, she's boisterous, she's a feminist, a woman of steel.

She's a domestic abuse survivor, but chooses not to be a victim. Rather, she chooses to be the villain in society to reach out to people in need. She's instinctive and gutsy.

There are so many layers to Bulbul that sometimes I would get sleepless nights, especially the confrontation scenes.

It was quite a challenge, but I'm so glad that it really stood out for people.

There are so many women who resonated with Bulbul, who have been through the same problems in their life, or who don't know how to deal with their teenage sons.

I think these kinds of shows should be made even more because it influences the society in a very, very good way.

IMAGE: Mona as Seema Vashisht in Kafas.

All three characters you played this year were emotionally complex ones. Was it ever draining to shoot certain scenes?

It is definitely not easy to shoot such hardcore dramatic and intense scenes, but one has to learn the art of switching on and off.

Sometimes you do carry that burden home of a scene which really takes a toll on you.

As Seema Vashisht (in Kafas), I experienced that. It's the scene where the parents are watching the video of their child being molested. Not easy for any parent to watch something like that. That was pretty intense for Sharman (Joshi), me, and Mikhail (Gandhi) who played our son.

I remember talking about that scene and I came back home to my husband and my parents.

Then there was another scene as Bulbul Johari (Made In Heaven 2), where she sees her wounds in the mirror.

Also that scene when she confronts her son and tells him that when a girl says no, it actually means no, and you cannot cross the line. That was a very emotionally charged and heavy scene.

As for Dr Soudamini (Kaala Paani), the toughest part was the climax.

That whole shoot in the jungle, the nights in the rain, it was not easy. And walking with that limp was surreal because my dad lost his foot in the 1971 War. He's a war veteran from the army.

It was like as if I was giving honour back to my dad in some way to tell him that it's his courage with which I have gone this far in my life.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Mona Singh/Instagram

What are some performances and films that you loved this year?

Sam Bahadur. Because coming from an army background and knowing my dad's history, being a part of the same war, where Sir Manekshaw (General Sam Manekshaw, who served as chief of the Indian Army during the 1971 War) had addressed my father's regiment too.

It was pretty surreal to watch the movie.

Dunki really stood out for me because it's a typical Rajkumar Hirani movie that you can watch with your family, feel happy about life, feel happy about homecoming, and understand how important family and friends are in your life.

It gave me a bit of Laal Singh Chadha feel also because of Punjab. I absolutely loved it.

Any performances that made you feel envious?

I must say that Delhi Crime is a very special show.

Tillotama Shome was a complete standout performer for me. I messaged her telling how good she was in the show.

She really stood out for me in The Night Manager as well.

She's a brilliant performer and there's so much to learn from her craft. I really admire her.

IMAGE: Tillotama Shome in Delhi Crime.

Do you have a checklist for film-makers that you wish to work with?

Absolutely, and the list is only increasing!

I want to work with Raju (Hirani) sir again.

I want to work with Imtiaz Ali.

Homi Adajania.

Raj and DK. There are such good makers and they're doing such good work. I would love to work collaborate with them as an actor.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: