Dubai first market for Karishma Tanna's new business venture
She chatted about her love for the city and her OTT debut among other things on a visit to the Khaleej Times office on Sunday.
Actress Karishma Tanna actively seeks out challenges which is why she has dabbled in almost all entertainment mediums — from television and Bollywood, to music videos and reality shows.
The charming star who was on a short visit to Dubai is now all set to make her OTT debut in the spy thriller, Lahore Confidential. She dropped into the Khaleej Times office on Sunday to talk about her latest projects, what inspires her to make choices in showbiz, and her love for the city.
What brings you down to Dubai, Karishma?
I had come here for a small event, very intimate and for a few people.
I was also here for one more reason — I’m planning to open a small venture/business. It is still under process, but it’s a lot to do with youth, fashion, and creativity and very soon I will announce it. I’m making a set up here and Dubai is the first market I’m going to spot.
I love Dubai. If I’m doing nothing in India and want to relax and pamper myself, I come here, have fun and enjoy the people around, the lifestyle and the shopping.
Does that feel good, to take a break and behave like a proper tourist?
Totally, it kind of rejuvenates you. It’s very important for us (artists) because we are continuously working and we have to be fit and we have to do a lot of interviews, shooting and be in front of the camera. So once in a while you want to just kind of chill and not do anything and unwind, behave like a tourist and shop! I think these are de-stressing things so that’s what I do. And Dubai is only two-and-a-half hours away!
Were you hesitant to travel due to the Covid pandemic?
I was, initially. I am travelling abroad after eight months. I have travelled within India for my shoots. After eight months I got my passport out and I was like - wow, does this even exist? (laughs) I was very happy about the fact that I was taking an international flight. It was a good experience. Of course the risk is always there but then, I was ready to take that risk for Dubai.
Travelling as for most actors must have been a constant in your life before the pandemic struck. What is it that you miss most about travelling?
Meeting people! When I’m travelling, I get to learn a lot. You are educating yourself and meeting a lot of new people, understanding their lifestyles, understanding a new city’s lifestyles. I like learning a lot of things every day. I miss shopping too!
The pandemic shut down a lot of productions in India — how did you spend your time during the lockdown?
I learned a lot of new things. I learned baking. I learned to be patient - which I was not! I like to do a lot of things, multi-tasking, be at several places. But in the pandemic and this lockdown, I could build patience.
I realised that I can sit at home, I can spend more and more time with my family. And it was nice. I’ve not spent so much time with my mother because I’m shooting all the time. If I’m not shooting then I’m pampering myself in the salon, or I’m going for meetings or auditions. But this time it was a guilt-free holiday. Generally when you’re sitting at home not doing anything you feel guilty thinking, oh, why is the work not coming. But this time the world was kind of resting it out - I think it was a good break and a sign from God saying, people, chill out.
You started off your career with the popular television series Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and then made your presence felt in Bollywood. You have also done reality shows and music videos and now you’re jumping to OTT. How does it feel to make your presence felt in almost all the platforms that are there right now?
As actors we tend to get saturated very fast and speaking from a personal point of view, I don’t like doing things that are repetitive. I have to take every project as a challenge. If I’m doing television and I can prove well enough that I can act, dance, do reality shows… after that I would want to jump to another platform and prove myself there. I’m scared when I explore another platform but I take it as a challenge and I try to excel. So far I haven’t done badly!
Is the love of a challenge what prompts you to participate in reality shows like Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi?
I definitely don’t love that show (laughs)! It’s just that they had been calling me for years and that was one reality show I just didn’t have the confidence to participate in because I didn’t know if I would be scared, or I would be very good. I was not scared of anything — it’s just that there was too much pressure, which I couldn’t handle.
So when I finally said yes, I realised more than physical strength you need mental strength. If you don’t have mental strength you tend to get hassled and you lose your stunt (sic). I learned to have mental strength more than physical strength with each passing stunt and I won the show.
Speaking of mental strength, considering whatever has been happening in the industry of late, you need a lot of tenacity and internal strength to survive.
Our industry was always in the limelight. Right now a focus has been shifted to our industry. Everyone here knows that there are pros and cons of being famous. If you’re in this industry you are going to be constantly judged. So a lot of people can handle that and a lot of people can’t.
I have learned to handle it, I have learned to handle the trolls, I’ve learned to handle the worst. It’s not that what’s happening in Bollywood doesn’t happen everywhere, it does. But the focus is on the industry because actors are famous and there’s more gossip and more drama and more entertainment. And I think we are all handling it very beautifully and maturely.
You’re also taking a kind of leap by doing an ‘item number’, Basanti, in the upcoming comedy Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari.
As far as ‘item’ songs are concerned, a lot of actresses like them and a lot of actresses are against them. I would call it a special song, because it comes at the start of the film, and because the lyrics are based on a legendary film Sholay and its characters, including Hema Malini’s Basanti. When I heard the song I found it very peppy; when you hear the song it will put a smile on your face.
It’s good coverage for an actress. If you do it (this kind of song) well you showcase your acting, your dance, your beauty.
So I would want to just call it a good, special song that enhances the film and I was very happy to take this decision because I got an amazing response.
How was it sharing the stage with Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh and Abhishek Banerjee? Who was the best dancer?
Diljit is good. All of them were like — we can’t dance, make Karishma dance. The entire feel of the song was very quirky and comic, so overall it was a very good experience.
When can we expect your OTT release Lahore Confidential?
It’s releasing on December 11. So it’s me, Richa Chadha and Arunoday Singh. Richa and me play RAW agents and the story revolves around how she gets trapped. It feels very good to be making my OTT debut and share the screen with Richa, she’s an amazing actress. And I learned a lot from our director Kunal Kohli who has made some outstanding films like Fanaa, Hum Tum.
As I said earlier, every time I do something I choose something different on purpose, for that challenge. Otherwise we get confined - that nervousness, that depth, we have to have in an actor’s business. I like to experiment a lot. After Lahore Confidential, you will see me in something different!