Actor Kamna Pathak
A theatre actor for the last 15 years, she plays the feisty Rajjo in a &TV television series. Award-winning actor Kamna Pathak (she’s won a Sony TV award), who had appeared in the 2016 interna-tional feature, the John Upchurch-directed Mango Dreams, has been acting for her TV sitcom through the pandemic. We recently spoke to the Mumbai-based actor.
Congratulations on having completed two years of your serial! How do you feel, in your character's skin, after two years, how has Rajesh evolved?
I am extremely happy that Happu Ki Ultan Pultan has completed two years of airing on Indian televisions and in Indian households. There are so many beautiful memories associated with my time on the show since day one. The character of Rajesh ‘Rajjo’ has become so close to my heart that she feels like a part of me, infused into my skin for the rest of my life! As soon as I hear the word “Action!”, it’s as if the Kamna in me is possessed by the soul of Rajjo. Even though I have been doing this show for so long, the character has never felt monotonous to me, especially since each episode brings such a fresh take to not just mine, but all the characters of the show through a different story-line. So the characters might be getting old in terms of screen time, but it is our love for the show and the story that keeps it fresh.
The world recently celebrated Women's Day – how do you feel portraying an independent minded, spirited woman in Happu ki Ultan Pultan?
I always say this, that the character of Rajjo is very dabbang. She is not your typical Indian serial housewife, who is trapped in the trials and tribulations of married life in her sasuraal. She is some-one who knows how to stand up for herself, without disrespecting others, such as the mother-in-law, the maternal authority in the house. This is what I love about my character, that she has found the balance in an Indian television climate where the wife can only be submissive and sacrificing, or she can separate herself from that narrative in a very harsh manner. Rajjo does neither – she will say her piece and she is there for her family.
Would you say comedy is your forte... or do you like drama/thrillers as well, as an actor?
As an actor, I think of myself as very greedy…I want to do every kind of film and show that I pos-sibly can. Whether it’s action or thriller or horror, or anything else, I want to do everything. The point is that I don’t ever want to feel regret over not having done something, and I don’t ever want this greed in me to be quenched.
Kamna Pathak with other cast members of Happu Ki Ultan Paltan
How has it been working with your director – and going to the sets after the restrictions for the pandemic lifted?
After lockdown was lifted for work, there was a bit of an anxious atmosphere, as if we were enter-ing uncharted territory (which we were, in a sense). We were taking all sorts of precautions to en-sure that no one got sick, but it was still a new experience for us. For the shoots, we would have to take off our masks which had us worrying even more, but I guess with time, this has become a part of our reality as well…we’ve just gotten, or rather have had to, get used to it. We are doing a comedy show, so to mask that fear, to put on a lighthearted smile and to brave through it is something that required courage on everyone’s part.
What did you do during the lockdown – I am sure you have been asked this many times – how did you keep hale and hearty?
I guess one good thing that came out of the lockdown was that I got to stay at home with my fami-ly for such a long stretch, after nearly eleven years. I stayed home for three months, which was the longest since I had started college in Miranda House, Delhi. It always gave me time to recollect and practice folk music, some of which I even sing in the show. I keep posting videos of me singing as well, on my Instagram. Other than that, I got to sleep a lot, eat a lot, and spend quality time with my family.
Kamna Pathak, Actor
As someone who grew up in Indore, what do you like most about Mumbai?
The difference between Indore and Mumbai for me comes down to two things. Firstly, I miss the food in my city more than anything, but second, I feel more safe in comparison in Mumbai, than I did in Indore. There is a respect for privacy and safety for women in this city which makes me feel more welcome here, so that even if I am out late at night I don’t need to be worrying about getting back home on time. Then again, Mumbai is also the place of work which is sacred to me, which is why this city will always be close to my heart.
We are all keen to break free once the pandemic is over. Could you tell us a bit about your fa-vourite travel spots – which are the places you are keen to visit once you start travelling post Covid?
Just like everyone else, I can’t wait to have the opportunity to start travelling again. I would love to travel to The Maldives, and also to South Indian states.
Your greatest indulgence?
I guess my greatest indulgence comes from music…I love to sing. Other than that, I enjoy watching theatre.
Much has been said about your resemblance to Sonakshi Sinha – is that an advantage in your profession or not?
Yes, I’ve heard this a lot actually, that my features are so similar to hers, and hearing that kind of makes me happy, I have to admit! I don’t really see that as a drawback, I think it’s more of a com-pliment since Sonakshi is such a talented actress.
What is your personal style for a day or night out?
Comfort is most important to me. Even when I’m draping a saree, I’ll wear it in a manner that makes me more comfortable rather than focusing on how I look. I also like wearing lucknowi suits, but a simple pair of jeans and a loose T-shirt is usually my go-to look!
And for red carpet / festive events?
Even for occasions like that, of course I like to look glamorous, but I won’t compromise feeling comfortable in my outfit just for that. I’d try to look for a balance, instead.
Please tell me which director(s) you would love to work with?
Imtiaz Ali, Anubhav Sinha, and Shoojit Sircar.
Would you act in another international film, given the chance, and in what kind of role? And Bollywood as well?
When it comes to acting, I don’t like to restrict myself to a specific genre or even platform. Be it theatre or the big screen, television, or OTT, I would love to try it all. As I said before, I am a very greedy actor who wants to do every type of content out there I can possibly do in this one lifetime.
And lastly, are you a foodie? What is your favourite cuisine and dish?
My all-time favourite has to be pasta in red sauce, and it should be spicy! I prefer my food to al-ways be spicy. In Indian cuisine, I prefer my mother’s homemade kathal ki sabzi with rice. When it comes to something sweet, I love kheer. I don’t explore too much outside of the things that I al-ready like, but the things that I like, such as momos, I just cannot get enough of.
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