speaks to Neha Marda on tears, possessive brothers and her new show
Jo Ishq ki Marzi Woh Rab ki Marzi
How did you land Jo Ishq ki Marzi Woh Rab ki Marzi?
I had worked on two shows with Sahara One — Saath Rahega Always and Ghar Ek Sapna. They thought it was an apt role for me and I was approached.
But coming from the Sagars, didn’t you think…
.. it was a mythological show? Yes! In fact, everyone who auditioned made sure they weren’t being tested for a mytho. I wouldn’t mind playing Radha to the little baby in Jai Shri Krishna. He is so adorable! But Jo Ishq.. is set in the pre-independence era.
Will it go the Mohe Rang De way?
No, not at all. It’s just that they wanted to set the show in a time when love was purest, unlike today’s materialistic world.
Any period character you’d like to play?
I’d love to play Jodha opposite either Hrithik Roshan or Ranbir Kapoor on screen. On TV, it would have to be Hussain Kuwajerwala.
Despite having won Boogie Woogie, Kaboom and having acted in Ek Thi Rajkumari, you became popular only after Balika Vadhu.
I played the lead in Ek Thi Rajkumari but unfortunately, Zee Next wasn’t a widely watched channel. I was lucky to not have been exposed much. All of it has ultimately worked in my favour.
Isn’t it taxing to play the abused wife in Balika Vadhu?
You bet! I’m not even allowed to use glycerine. On the sets, I’m kept away from the rest of the cast. The director asks me to recall the sad moments of my life. When I’m all worked up, I’m called in to give my shot.
How would you deal with a saas like dadi sa?
Gehna has become a rebel because of the situation she is in. I guess I would win over my saas with love. She will get irritated that nothing affects me and finally give up.
How do you plan to juggle your time between two dailies at once?
Both the production houses seem to be okay with me sparing 15 days for each a month. As for how I’m going to manage, that’s Rab ki marzi. But I won’t quit either — Jo Ishq.. and Balika.. are both very close to me.
Has your market price gone up?
Up, up and up! (Laughs) Don’t ask how much!
There are too many Nehas in the industry. Wasn’t it suggested to you that you should change your name?
Not here, no. But when I bagged a movie down south, they wanted me to change my name. I refused because my name has got me where I’m today.
Has your short frame ever been a disadvantage?
No, in fact my height complements Neil (Bhatt, her hero in Jo Ishq…). And I was approached for Balika Vadhu because they wanted someone with a petite frame who could carry off a mature part. So I’m proud to be just five feet tall.
You are a girl child born in your family after 72 years. Raksha Bandhan must be quite a event, right?
Yeah, but I don’t tire of tying rakhis because I get gifts too! My brothers are so possessive about me that when I’m with them, I’m only supposed to look at them or look down and walk. And if a guy talks to me, bas! They bombard me with questions.
Since you have such a conservative background, are aunts and grand aunts okay with your choice of profession?
I’m sure my mum gets to hear things but she doesn’t let it come to me. She knows her daughter too well.