Does anyone call you Sundari apart from Ravan?
(Laughs) Thankfully, no. But you know what - on the streets, people call out, "Bhikshang dehi."
How do you react?
Sportingly, of course. It's better than them touching my feet.
Yeah, kids do that a lot. With my costume and full make-up, I can look quite convincing.
Both Gurmeet (Chaudhary) who plays Ram in Ramayan, and you have avoided the media since day one. Why this sudden spurt of interviews?
We wanted to speak at the right time.
And who decides the right time?
(Smiles) I mean we had no time when we started out. We thought the right time would be once we were halfway down the road.
So, you're enjoying your stint as the dharti ki putri?
Yes, every bit of it. The costumes, make-up, the dialogue.. everything.
Isn't the language a problem?
Nope. In fact, it's a pleasant surprise for me. Most of the words are so similar to my mother tongue Bengali. Words like maandhata, prachanda, bhishan.. we use them in our day-to-day talk. I was very happy to teach the meaning of these words to my co-stars. Besides I've acted in Tamil and Telugu films.
(Laughs) If I could mouth those lines of dialogue without understanding a word, Hindi is so much easier.
Weren't you sceptical about taking up the role?
No way. I was thrilled. Initially, I didn't realise that it was a huge responsibility. I understood the importance of our work only after the public response.
Don't you worry about being typecast?
I still get offers for films from the south. The viewers these days are smart enough to know that we are just actors playing these characters. So, there's no question of being slotted.
How has your family reacted to Ramayan?
My grandma is my biggest fan. She has lost her hearing abilities but she still watches the show. My mom advised me to treat the character as any strong woman would do. I have always remembered that.
Which is the most cumbersome piece of make-up you have worn?
A piece of jewellery on my hair is so heavy that it pulls my head back. I need to wear it only if there's a back shot but I put it on anyway because I enjoy all that.
You must be pretty bored of wearing the sanyasini garb now?
Not really. Earlier I enjoyed decking up and looking good. Now I'm more comfortable.
How come Ramayan is doing better in the south?
NDTV Imagine is a new channel, it has still to reach every nook and cranny of the country. Despite that it has done so well. In the south, Ramayan is shown on more established channels with a regular viewership. That might be a reason.
I thought you'd say that people in the south watch the show because of you.
(Laughs) Oh no. Ram and Sita are the bigger stars.