‘People are talking about my character and about my performance. That is overwhelming for me.’
You know her as the Pehla Nasha girl.
Ayesha Jhulka, who turned 50 in July, made her OTT debut in Tanuja Chandra’s thriller Hush Hush recently.
The actor, who has been a part of the film industry for about 30 years, is grateful for the OTT platform, as she tells Patcy N/Rediff.com, “Our shelf lives have become longer.”
I loved Hush Hush, but for a thriller, it seemed a bit slow.
We are in a jet age. We like everything very fast and just want to get to the end.
Many others may have felt the same.
I just loved the art house beginning. It was so beautiful!
It may be slow at times, but in the second and third episodes, it gets gripping.
This is much more than a crime thriller. It’s about the different classes of women and what they are going through, via their stories.
What a comeback! You play a victim, a human trafficker, a mother, a friend, a traitor…
It was Tanuja Chandra’s conviction that I could carry this off.
I was nervous because I have a girl-next-door image and this was definitely a challenge.
But we see very little of you in Season One.
When I heard Season One, I had the grasp of it. You have the vision of what’s going to come ahead.
You choose something even though your role may be less, in terms of screen time, but if it carries quality, it will be recognised by the cerebral audience.
The character is such that it has to unfold in Season Two to tell you more.
You were initially reluctant to sign Hush Hush.
Honestly, I felt it was too good to be true because there was Tanuja Chandra, Abundantia, Amazon Prime Video and such a layered character.
Your first instinctive reaction is ‘No, it’s not possible’.
But then, as Tanuja took me through the journey, she put me at ease and I realised how stupid I was. I have been waiting for something like this, so why am I saying no?
The refreshing change is that people are talking about my character and about my performance. That is overwhelming for me.
This is first time you are working with a lady director.
I think it was super easy for me to understand what she wanted. It was as if she feels the same thing that I do.
Every time she would explain something, one felt connected with the characters. Obviously, you can’t be those characters in real life but you have to go closer and think that, what if this was me?
She explained very beautifully.
I thought my character would be difficult because it has layers and depth, it’s dark, so many things.
I was worried as to how to put all these things into a character.
In one minute, your face has to show fear. Then it has to show confidence. It has to show hatred, it has to show smiles, tears…
Because it was a female director and the connect I felt with her, she would me at ease. She would explain even little things, and at times, even do it and show me. So it became easier.
When they say that there are catfights and uneasiness when two women work together, I don’t agree with that. These things degrade how women are perceived.
Juhi Chawla and you have done hit movies with Mansoor Khan like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikanderrespectively. But you have not worked with each other in your careers. How has your relationship been with her through the years?
Strangely, we haven’t met in our entire careers until now.
Working with her was definitely fun. When I heard that she would play my sister, it became a nice comfort zone for me.
When we met, we immediately clicked.
But we didn’t get much time to discuss anything beyond our roles because it was intense and Tanuja likes everybody to be in their characters.
You didn’t have any scenes with Soha Ali Khan, Kritika Kamra and Shahana Goswami, Sid you meet up with them on the sets?
We had a ball of a time even though my scenes are mainly with Juhi and Karishma Tanna.
I met the other girls at the launch, at parties, at different locations, and a bond created automatically.
Shahana Goswami, the way she comes and hugs you, she’s got immense warmth. She has got her own charm. She’s lively, and a house on fire! She has her own way of showing strength and love.
Kritika Kamra is a quiet girl, but has such a lovely pretty face with so much warmth.
We exchanged our numbers immediately. I keep getting messages on and off and I do reply to them.
On the first day, Karishma Tanna said, ‘Oh my God, ma’am, I’m working with you.’ She kept saying, ‘Oh my God.’
I think the warmth and respect that these girls gave me, it took just a minute to get comfortable.
How different is shooting for a Web series?
When it comes to shooting, it doesn’t matter. Everything is the same.
It’s just as Tanuja says, it’s like doing three films in one show. Time is the only thing.
OTT basically gives you time to review your talent, your skills, your abilities.
It offers you real and relatable roles, written for women, irrespective of their age or profile. That’s such a welcome change.
Gone are those days when stardom was about the image and the craft.
This is more about that, reaching into the intensity of a character, trying to be real and normal, which doesn’t carry the paraphernalia of so much make-up or hair.
It’s just about being yourself.
Do you think this is a great time for actresses in the film industry?
Our shelf lives have become longer (laughs).
Because of OTT, so many women-centric films and shows are happening. They are getting so much opportunity to showcase.
In the ’90s, it was all about glamour. But now, there are so many things they can show because of this content creation and consumption.
Don’t Miss Part 2 of this interview!
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