Telly actor Aamna Shariff in a tete-a-tete with Usha Thomas.
When are you signing your next project?
The minute I like a script, I’ll sign up immediately. I want to think of my life either as one TV show or a feature film. I’d like to devote 12-15 days a month..the rest of the time I wish to travel and relax.
How important is the money offered to you?
I just want time to make the right decision about my next step. I think I have a certain fan following, they’re watching every move I make. Whatever I do next has to be a step forward and completely different from Kashish in Kahiin Toh Hoga.
How do you look back at your audition at Ektaa Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms?
The security guards didn't let me in. I was with my friend, I just walked away feeling quite humiliated. We had almost reached Juhu when I got a call on my cell, asking me to return. I agreed on the condition that someone should be at the gate to receive me.
I remember giving a who-do-you-think-you-are? look to that security guard when I was escorted in. I was given a two-page script to rehearse. I panicked and told my friend, “Chal, bhaagte hain", and bolted from there. But on seeing the mandir at the Balaji compound, I felt I've never run away from anything. So I did the audition. I was happy with it, not because I got it all right in the first take but because I had the strength to go back. When Ektaa saw it, she is supposed to have said that I’ve found my Kashish.
Has anyone helped you mature as an actress?
Apart from Ektaa, it's my first director Anil V Kumar. I used to hate it when he would yell at me. I wanted to give up, convinced that I couldn’t act. In retrospect, I can now see that it was so important to go through that test of fire. Ektaa would always tell me when she liked my scene and how I could improve.
Do you see any competition from other TV actresses?
(Laughs) No yaar.
Do you like the work of any other actress?
I like Saakshi Tanwar as an actress.
I'm very reserved which is often mistaken for throwing attitude. Yes, but I hate duplicity and smart Alecs. I can see when someone is trying to use me and I distance myself. At the same time, I know I have some friends who will always stand by me.
Is Rajeev Khandelwal one of them?
Yes, he is on the top of the list. He will always be a part of my life, never mind whom we marry. When we started out on our careers, we were nothing. We’ve seen tough days together. We have a good laugh when we read any bit of gossip about us. See, Rajeev is an important part of my life. Gossip or no gossip,we'll ever stop talking to each other.
Why didn’t you dissuade him from leaving Balaji Telefilms?
He's mature enough to make his decisions. He knows exactly what he wants. Today he is happy man. I think he was right since he has no regrets.
So Rajeev and you are not in love?
No,we are not in love.
Do you see him as your soul mate
I have never looked at him that way. He knows what I look in for in a man and I know the companion he wants in life. He is absolutely essential to my life as my friend.. I don't want to spoil this by getting into a relationship with him. I'm still waiting to fall in love.
Did you ever face the casting couch
No, never. The TV and film industries are not considered safe and I agree. One has to be strict and never encourage advances.
I place a high premium on working with professionals. I've never worked for money -- the content, product and production house are the criteria for accepting any assignment. When one is hard up, then one is promised roles and fall into the trap of making money. I didn't. I'd never ever spoil my reputation.
Has Ektaa Kapoor offered you any other serial after Kahiin Toh Hoga
Not yet. I'm sure that when she has a character that demands Aamna, she will call me.
It's been a good association with Balaji. What I appreciate in Ektaa is that she’s a stickler for details.If she wants a scene a certain way, she will do that till she gets it right, regardless of how long it takes or how much it costs.
Any film director you wish to work with?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He makes his actresses look beautiful and extracts great performances from them.
What about marriage?
That’s not even on my radar. I'm too young. I know what I want from my guy, he should take care of me. I'm tired of taking decisions. My mother keeps telling me about marriage offers but I manage to talk her out of them.
Which actors have you enjoyed working with?
I've worked with the best-Rajeev, Iqbal Khan, Vikas Sethi and Shabbir Ahluwalia and so many others.
Whom are you closest to today?
My mother, of course. I was 10 when my dad died. It was difficult for her to raise three children. The day my father died, she put up a brave front and took me for my exams that very morning. It's important to undergo difficulties to value life.
At the end of the day, are you happy?
Yes, I am. As a child, I used to watch Madhuri Dixit and envy her. Today I meet young women who aspire to be like me.