Knock knockâ€¦who’s there? Shweta Keswani. Ahâ€¦.you mean Avantika of Kahaaniâ€¦.and Anu of Des Mein â€¦.fame, right?
After almost making it in the big league a decade back with these TRP spinning shows, she made a quite disappearing act from the small screen. But now she’s back in the groove, wooing the TV junta with her seductive act as a salsa teacher in SAB’s Mohalla Mohabbat Wala.
In a freewheeling chat with Prashant Goelcha, this bindaas babe gets vocal about her career graph, love life and much more. Excerpts.
You had taken a long sabbatical from the TV scene and then you chose a comeback with Mollah Mohabbat Wala. What were your criteria for zeroing on this show?
I didn’t want take up any negative roles. My character of Juhi in MMW is central to the story. It is positive and at times gray. The show is 90% of comedy and 10% of suspense, which makes it enjoyable. Also, I don’t need to give block dates, so I get time for live shows, anchoring and myself..
The TV industry then and now – Spot the differences.
It was a cool atmosphere when I began. There was no hurry, no concept of daily soaps. The attitude of people was different; everyone was friendly. But now everyone’s running. Competition was healthy in our times but today it’s cut throat. Quantity has overtaken quality. The channel and the production house do aim for quality but where’s the time? Everyone is interested in minting. There is a dearth of good writers. Politics is rampant and you can’t vibe with everyone. The industry has become claustrophobic. The funny thing is that when you bump into a fresh crop of actors and give them a smile they simply ignore, forget returning one. This gen next has unnecessary attitude.
Which shows do you consider landmarks in your career?
Nazdikiya on Sony, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii and Desh Mein Nikla Hoga Chand. People still recognize me as Avantika and Anu of the last mentioned shows respectively.
Would you do a saas bahu show now?
It has to be very interesting for me to take up.
Didn’t Balaji get back to you post Kahaaniâ€¦? Is all well between you and Balaji?
I did get a few calls from Balaji but by now they know I don’t want to do similar negative stuff. I don’t choose my work according to the production house. I am a professional. I left Kahaani by choice after nearly giving a year’s notice. Ekta is doing different kind of work now, so I hope she thinks of me while casting (smiles).
What so you enjoy the most – live shows, plays, television or films?
Plays. It generates instant feedback and reactions. But even this genre is too commercialized these days.
Did the debacle of you films, Love in Nepal and Memsahib, deflate your filmi aspirations?
No, I still want to do films but offers don’t come knocking on your door. I have met enough number of producers and they tell me I am over exposed on television. I don’t agree with that, as it’s just an excuse. I don’t have any godfather. I don’t know what to do.
Do you believe in luck?
I do believe in luck but there is no substitute for hard work. No one is there to push my career. Whatever I am doing is on my own.
You got engaged to Alexx Onell in February. So when do we hear the wedding bells?
Now that I’ve engaged, there is no pressure from quarter. The commitment’s there. And I am not getting married this year for sure.
Your fiancÃ© Alexx is also eyeing for films, right? We spotted him in the recent Amitabh Bachchan starrer, Cheeni Kum?
Yes it is true he did act in that movie. He has also featured in a lot of ads for Reconova, DLF, Bingo Wafers and ESES computers. He is quite a cool guy.
What are your future plans?
I think slowly. I am looking at something off track, I am evaluating various options. I will continue acting but there has to be more to my life than just this profession. One of the things I am planning is a dance performance. I have learnt kathak and once I’m ready with the performance I can showcase my dancing skills in shows.