Popular Zee TV serial Jamai Raja has been a huge success since it launched last year, and a large part of that is thanks to a knock-out performance from lead star Nia Sharma.
The small screen superstar has followed up her hit serial Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai with another popular show, which has audiences regularly hooked to the storylines.
Also a regular fixture in Eastern Eye’s popular list of 50 Sexiest Asian Women, Nia has one of the most dedicated fanbases in India.
Eastern Eye caught up with the in-demand star to talk about the rise of Jamai Raja, acting, her demanding work schedules, beauty tips and more.
Did you ever imagine that Jamai Raja would be such a big success?
I thought as much but I was more focused on my role, which was very modern and not very in the box, like me playing a bahu (daughter-in-law) or something. It was a very modern and independent girl, so I was more focused on my own character than the show. But the show becoming so successful is the icing on the cake.
Is there any one moment from the Jamai Raja journey that has been the most special for you?
The fact that Jamai Raja became a hugely talked about show in the first few months itself, which felt really good.
Your character is rebellious, but how much of a rebel are you in real life?
(Laughs) I am thoroughly rebellious in my own life. When I auditioned for the show, that trait came from my own self and they realised that this girl has a rebellious streak (so could play the character). That is what I had been told anyway. So yes I did draw upon my own life for the role.
Indian TV stars have incredibly demanding schedules. How do you cope with it?
Yes, I would say it definitely is a hectic schedule. There are times where you want to break free from your schedule. You want to go out, have fun and be with your family. It doesn’t give you that space to do that. All the main leads are shooting 27, 28, 29 days at a stretch, which is no joke.
It can hamper you inside. But this is how I function. I like working so many days. I am not complaining, but sometimes actors can get over-used. So it can be irritating but this is how a daily soap works. If you are ready to take the stress then you should come, otherwise just leave it.
What is the secret of the fact that you look great despite the hectic schedule?
(Smiles) Asjad, thank you for telling me I look great. It’s news to me when anyone ever calls me good-looking. There is no secret to it, but yes, despite having lots of work, I do have to take time out for my skin treatment and hair appointments. These are two things I cannot miss because if I do, I will have major breakouts on my skin. Of course I have abandoned all the junk food in the world, including chocolates, It’s quite a sacrifice avoiding oily foods because India is known for spicy food. So I run away from such food. (Laughs) It’s quite a task. The food that comes on set is all occupied with this.
You have an eye-catching figure as well. Do you have any fitness tips?
I don’t work out but I have totally sacrificed my eating habits to adopt a healthier diet. I have to control my eating to a great level. In this industry, people think about their eating habits but I do much more and go above and beyond.
How do you feel you have evolved as an actress?
I am evolving every day because this is my learning phase. I learn and try to do better than before. But having said that I really don’t put much effort into my acting. All I require from myself is to go ahead and do it in one flow.
But for me, doing anything more than once or twice wears me out. I start getting irritated. I have figured out my own ways of working. I have figured out how I process in real life. That’s how I go onscreen by working the same way. I will not make much effort, like doing 10 takes. I don’t do all that. Even if I fumble at times, I just carry on.
What kind of scenes do you enjoy doing most?
I like doing scenes which are performance orientated. I love doing scenes that have no dialogue at all. Then you have to convey a lot of emotions and you have to speak with your eyes. I love doing those because I feel I can emote with my eyes well, especially in emotional scenes.
Is Bollywood something you would consider?
Consideration is a different thing when you have the kind of schedule I have. Living the life of a TV actor, I have really not thought much about Bollywood. I haven’t even tried in Bollywood, but I wouldn’t mind if something good came up. I would definitely take it up if that happens.
I know there’s a whole world crying out for Bollywood, but I feel like: ‘Which race am I in?’ Why blindly follow a path when you are getting making good money? Why when I am in a good phase and can triumph would I figure another path?
If you did do a Bollywood film, which actor would you want to be paired with?
I don’t know, maybe a young looking guy. Someone who would complement my age and I would look good with.
What qualities do you most like in a guy?
I like all sorts of qualities! (Laughs) He should be fun to talk to. He should be good-looking enough for me to want to start a conversation with him.
How much does it mean to you when you win an award?
I definitely like winning awards, but not the ‘relation’ type of awards like ‘Best Sister’ or ‘Best Daughter-in-law’. They don’t excite me at all. Recently I won the Popular Face of the Year and every part of me was thrilled and excited. I love awards like this, they really mean a lot to me.
What inspires you?
(Laughs) Money inspires me today. My favourite colour is money.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I don’t know how to answer this question. Unless and until people get to know you, they shouldn’t make judgments about you. People know that I am a straight person and talk from my heart. There is nothing hidden about me. If I hate somebody it is on my face, and if I love somebody it is there on my face. There is no fakeness inside. If I have animosity towards someone, it will show. There are no secrets.
Finally, would you like to give us a message for your fans?
It’s always the best part giving a message to my fans. I love them to the core. Whatever they have done for me, how they encourage me and how they will start a war when somebody says anything against me on social media. I love how my fans defend me. They show me such great gestures. I love them all thoroughly.