Thursday, October 5, 2023

Sandhya Mridul on working with Naseeruddin Shah in Taj Separated by Blood: ‘delicately, he rectifies individuals’ Urdu’

Sandhya Mridul talked to HT about playing Jodha in the upcoming web series Taj: Divided by Blood, working with Naseeruddin Shah and why she chooses to do few projects.

Sandhya Mridul usually appears on screen with one project a year or sometimes nothing at all because she doesn’t mind being patient than playing the same role over again. From playing a bahu in Koshish – Ek Aashaa, an opportunist in Page 3 to Queen Jodha in her upcoming web series Taj: Divided by Blood, Sandhya loves to be seen in a new onscreen avatar every time. In an interview with Hindustan Times, the actor opened up about her new historical web show and how it looks much more intense and different from all such Mughal period dramas before. She says it is thrilling as well as exhausting for everyone involved. Also read: Aditi Rao Hydari turned down Taj-Divided By Blood role, felt only ‘Madhubala is Anarkali’

She also shared her experience of working with Naseeruddin Shah, who plays Akbar in Taj: Divided By Blood. The ZEE5 show also stars Dharmendra as Sheikh Salim Chisti, Aditi Rao Hydari as Anarkali along with Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab, Aashim Gulati and Taha Shah. Excerpts from the interview:

We see very less of you.

Because every time I do something, I start getting very similar roles and I don’t like to repeat roles. So, I wait till something different comes. It’s not easy for a woman to fight stereotyping and I have fought it for my entire career. I have tried not to repeat any roles even if they have been very successful. So, weather it was in Saathiya, Honeymoon Travels or Page 3, they were all different people. It is not easy to do that and that brings a gap. Just doing the work I am getting for money and keeping myself busy, I find that very hard. OTT was also not around, but now it is. It offers you different parts and I am fortunately not getting stereotyped. It has been a long uphill battle for me to get here. My next is also very different and that is what I wanted to achieve as an actor because I love acting. I want to do different stuff and for that you need to be patient. It was very tough for me in retrospect. Today, I am getting a chance to register myself as a versatile actor.

How different is Taj from what we have seen till now?

It will be more on the emotional, human side and not just a historical epic. It is not just about the royalty and the relationships in the family. You will see Jodha’s love for her son, her pain for Saleem and that will be the only time you will see her getting aggressive. She was a very gentle, kind, liberal queen, not very political. You will see her intense emotions when she even takes Akbar head on. What I was also surprised with was there was a lot of scope for all the characters to be seen as human beings with emotions and what they really felt.

How different is your character of Jodha in Taj from what we have seen in Dilip Kumar-Madhubala’s classic Mughal-e-Azam or Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar?

Taj is much more intense. Its fast paced and very highly charged. There is lot of fantastic action, beautiful emotions and exchanges at relationships. There is beautifully done sensuality which you may not have seen to that level before. It has gone deep into many aspects. There is a sort of depth in what we have done in Taj.

You may end up being compared with Aishwarya Rai.

Everybody is allowed to think and feel what they want. Comparisons have not really bothered me. Aise to acting hi nahi kar sakte aap (you can’t do acting that way). I have given my best.

Share you experience of filming with Naseeruddin Shah.

Every shot is a masterclass, there is something you take away from it. You cannot leave a set of Naseeruddin Shah and not take away a feeling or something that you have learnt. He is very unassuming and easy co-actor. He is always willing to accept what you bring, very gently he will suggest something or correct people’s Urdu. If you are open to receiving, you will receive a lot.

Share you experience of shooting for a period drama. How were the costumes?

Costumes were gorgeous, but they were really exhausting. Nikalte nikalte hi thakaan ho jati thi (we used to get tired while just dressing up) because they were heavy. Jodha being the youngest and most favourite and loved queen of Akbar, she was always a little more dressed than others. I had these lehengas with heavy can cans, there used to be 10-12 kilogram lehenga, two-three dupattas, jacket, lots of jewellery. It was trying in certain weather conditions. Jodha had long hair and it was hot. Hats off to all women who play these roles, I have huge respect for heroines who do that. I find that the hardest part.

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