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Donal Bisht

By Tanishka Juneja

From a college girl dabbling in television to the confident woman building a repertoire of 

meaningful work, Donal Bisht has had an interesting journey as an actor so far. After delivering hit shows like ‘Ek Deewaana Tha’ and ‘Roop – Mard Ka Naya Swaroop’ in which she played the lead, the actress is currently riding high on the success of the second season of her web show ‘Tu Zakhm Hai’. Having worked for a long time without taking a breather, the actress felt the need to slow down and explore every possible medium, and to be honest, we’re not complaining. 

FACE caught up with this vibrant actress for a tête-à-tête where she spilled beans on stepping out of her comfort zone, creative freedom on OTT, shelf life of actors, her dream role and much more…

Bigg Boss is one of the most viewed shows on Indian Television and tests the contestants in every possible way. So, after being a part of the show, how do you think the experience changed you as a person and the way you viewed all the relationships in your life?

Bigg Boss is definitely one of the biggest and most talked about reality shows, and I’m grateful to be a part of the show. When I was in the house, I was showered with so much love from the audience. People could see how I am in real life and the thing about Bigg Boss is that once you do it, you are remembered as the character you portray inside the house. That’s the power of that show. So, I’m glad that I will be remembered as a strong and nice girl, as Salman Khan himself said in front of everyone that he has never seen a sorted girl like me in Bigg Boss ever (laughs). So, I’m thankful that I got to meet Salman Khan through this platform too. 

Also, most importantly, I got this opportunity very early on in my career which I think was great because usually people choose to do this show when they’re done working or they want to revive their career and their presence on screen. But in my case, I was already actively working and people knew that I had no need to do this show but I believe that this experience was needed at that time and not at a later stage in my career. I don’t want to be known as a “Bigg Boss girl” my entire life, you know; I want to be known as an actor. So, I think it was a blessing in disguise that I was a part of the show for a brief period of time and people loved me for who I am. 

Talking about an underwater scene from the season 2 of your web series “Tu Zakhm Hai”, you said that you were scared because you didn’t know how to swim and had to do multiple retakes for the same. What does it take for you to step out of your comfort zone in order to grow as an actor?

Oh my god! That was such a difficult thing to do because I had no idea how many retakes were going to happen. That scene needed to be captured from multiple angles and I had to hold my breath for about 4-5 minutes which is something I had to practise doing. The dress used to become quite heavy when I was in the water so, I was not able to come out of the water as well. So, I think it was just because of my willpower that I was able to do it. The scene came out well and everyone loved it which made me really happy. 

And to answer your question, you will grow when you are willing to push your limits, and that will come from the passion you have for your craft. I always want to give my best and that push comes from the passion I have for acting.

For someone who’s been a part of the industry for quite some time now, how necessary is it at times to take a break in between shows, especially when you’re doing television? 

After I started doing television in 2015-16 with Balaji’s show, “Kalash – Ek Vishwaas”, I was working non-stop on four different shows. So, there came a point when I was very tired because I never had an off-day in between; I didn’t have time to sleep, eat or spend time with my loved ones. So, it felt like I was not living at all. I was not getting to spend what I was earning you know? So, I decided to actually live my life and be selective about the projects I take. And that’s when OTT came into the picture and it felt like everything synced at the right time. And to be very honest, I would always wonder why we don’t make season wise shows in our country just like Hollywood does. If we talk about FRIENDS, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad for instance, they have around 5 to 10 seasons respectively, and are very successful shows. So, that’s something I always wanted to work on. That way, I’ll have time for myself as well as have time to prepare for the show. And in order to perform well creatively, you need that time which unfortunately TV doesn’t give you. Switching from one character to another requires enough breathing space in order to adapt to that character emotionally. Which is why I decided to do web shows and I’m happy that I’m getting to do what I dreamt of. So, I’m quite content with the kind of work I’m doing.

“While TV is my foundation, I enjoy the creative freedom of web series.” Is something you had mentioned in one of your interviews. Over the past few years, we’ve seen OTT explore a wide range of content, especially when it comes to some taboo subjects. On one hand, it’s definitely given the makers freedom to experiment, but it also brings us to question the rise in nudity, violence or the language used in this medium. What’s your opinion on that?

If we talk about shows in the West, we don’t feel that a certain scene is deliberately put in. It just goes with the flow and doesn’t feel out of place. It doesn’t have to poke you in the eye. There are various scenes which look very authentic and are needed to take the story forward. If that’s the case, then it’s fair enough. Personally, I’m not comfortable with deliberately portraying nudity on-screen or emphasising on that aspect. The best example would be “Tu Zakhm Hai” because it took me time to say yes to them. They approached me for the show and there were a few things I wasn’t comfortable with, so there were some creative differences. So, after 4 months of talking, they eventually came to the conclusion that they need nobody else but me as Kavya. Other things don’t matter as long as I’m willing to play that part. And if you see the show, it’s beautifully made. So, if your story is strong, if the makers think you fit the bill, and if you as an actor are able to portray the emotion that the scene demands, there is no need for anything extra. So, I would say “Tu Zakhm Hai” clearly explains that it’s successful because of its story and it hardly matters if I would have chosen to do those scenes or not. There are a hundred ways of showing an emotion or a situation, it’s just your perception in the end. 

So, I’m glad that people all across the globe watched the web show and have showered so much love on us. 

You’ve also been a part of multiple music videos such as ‘Alag Mera Yeh Rang Hain’, ‘Kinni Vari’, and ‘Mana Leya Kar’ to name a few. What’s your fondest memory, if you could think of any, when it comes to shooting music videos? 

I recently shot a music video with Panorama called ‘Mana Leya Kar’ in Kashmir and Oh my god! It’s so beautiful. I think every Indian should visit Kashmir because it’s a paradise. People are going to foreign countries but I suggest you all to visit the best locations in India as well. We went to Dal Lake, Gulmarg and shot in the lake boat – Shikaras, and I was in awe because it was immensely beautiful. It was mesmerising shooting there and I truly enjoyed being a part of that project.

We’ve seen a lot of actors, male or female, make a comeback or revive their acting career after many years by doing some meaty roles in content-driven projects. So, do you think that the concept of actors, especially female actors, having a shelf life still exists?

I think it depends on how much the actor or the actress wants to work. If an actor is truly passionate about his craft and wants to work every single day, like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan – he is who he is because he is constantly working. So, in that case, their shelf life becomes longer. Everybody wants good actors but whether you’re willing to work for that long, say 60 years or so, truly depends on you. It is you who can mark your shelf life, not the industry. 

What genres or kind of characters do you wish to explore in the coming future?

I was recently giving an interview when the person was like, “Your chemistry with the opposite lead has always been the talk of the town, whether it’s on a TV show or a web show. The romance just naturally comes up on screen.” So, I have a feeling that I’m going to become this “romantic girl” on screen; Female Shahrukh Khan, you know (laughs). So, a romantic film or story for sure, but I’d want some action in it too; I’d like to play a romantic action girl. I love the character of Mulan, so something along those lines. Also, I’d love it if someone ever decides to remake the Disney’s animated film ‘Tangled’. I’d like to play that character in the film. 

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