She doesn’t have her guard up. She doesn’t hesitate before opening up her world to you. Are you her friend? No. You are an interviewer who knows how difficult it is to establish a comfort zone with these actors from Mumbai.
But, a rendezvous with Sugandha Garg makes you want to tell her story to the world. “I will rock big time; it’s my time; my confidence says so,” declares the peppy actress.
From the Shaleen of Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na to the Zoya of Tere Bin Laden, being the host of What’s With Indian Men to It Happens Only in India and singing the Assamese Tokari at Coke Studio (season 2) — Sugandha felt safe within her walls, but decided to break free recently. “I’m not conventional, super tall or fair. I carried that baggage like a lot of other girls. There are those unrealistic standards that they have to strive to achieve. You don’t even want to do some roles, but you still want to do them. It’s a trap. Also, I wasn’t evolved enough as an actor to play some roles; maybe I didn’t have the wisdom. Good films are being made everyday; it’s the actor who is not ready. It is also about the fear of rejection. The day I thought I don’t care, the world opened up for me,” says Sugandha.
With four films in her kitty — Santosh Sivan’s Ceylon, Shefali Bushan’s Jugni, sequel of Tere Bin Laden and Manu Warrier’s Coffee Bloom — Sugandha is currently shooting a part of Jugni in the outskirts of Chandigarh. Playing the protagonist, music director Vibhavari aka Vibs, Sugandha talks about her ‘musical’ journey: “It’s a commercial film made in a very non-commercial manner. No trappings of the big Bollywood sets, big egos, vanities etc. Shefali (the director) and I connected on the music front much before we decided to work with each other. It was pretty organic for me to get this film. I didn’t know who else would do it if I wouldn’t.”
But, Sugandha clarifies that had she not known music, she wouldn’t have done the film. “In Jugni, I play the ukulele, which is a very difficult instrument. Two months before the film, I bought a ukulele; picking it up was a huge thing. When someone like Clinton Cerejo is doing the music of the film, you have to respect the artiste. During this film, I have been hearing music and artistes that I hadn’t heard earlier,” says she, about the film, the dialogues and lyrics of which have been written by Shelle.
To a large extent, Vibs is like Sugandha, except the fact that the former is a little feminine. “I’m naturally very boyish, you know, climbing mountains and all. When the musicality was taken care of, Shefali required me to be a little more feminine.”
Did we hear mountains? “I have been into mountaineering for six years; was trained from Darjeeling Mountaineering Institute. Last year, I climbed an 18,000-foot peak in Sikkim. That’s why when anyone described the role of the hero’s sister, it never excited me. This made me not care much, as I wanted to climb mountains, do photography, make music for short films, write films and grow as a person,” shares Sugandha, who has lived all over India during her growing years.
Talk to her about hubby Raghu Ram and she says, “Raghu and I are like children; we are really good friends. When either of us isn’t working, we make sure we get to spend time together. We still don’t feel like we’re married to each other. When we meet, it’s like Diwali man!”
Her man, however, surprised her with his autobiography recently. “I was very surprised when the book came out, as Raghu has always been a very private person. But suddenly, he shared his life with the world, including the part about him being an a**h**e; I still stuck around when he was losing his mind. The way he wrote that was very beautiful,” concludes she.