Sonal Jha on scope for actresses over 40
Actress Sonal Jha, who is best known for her performance in shows like ‘Balika Vadhu’ and films like, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, Chillar Party’ and others, has been garnering accolades for her recent OTT series, ‘Jehanabad Of Love and War’. ETimes got in touch with the actress for an exclusive interview where she opened up about the show, the importance of screen time for actors, the scope for actresses over 40, and more. Excerpts…
You have been garnering accolades for your performance in ‘Jehanabad – Of Love and War’. How does it feel?
Yes, I have been receiving a lot of love for my role in ‘Jehanabad – Of Love and War’. It feels great to get all the appreciation from audiences. I believe this is the first time in my 13-year career that I have received so much attention. Also, people are talking about my performance in the show, so I am really thankful to my audiences for showering all the love.
You play a Bihari character in the series. You were born and brought up in Bihar. Did that make preparing for and portraying your character relatively easier for you?
I think it was relatively easier for me when compared to other actors who are not from Bihar, as I am familiar with the culture, language, dialect, and state. Having said that, let me also say that no character is easy to portray. It’s always a challenge to make any character interesting and relatable. I had to work on my body language and accent since it’s been 30 years since I left Bihar. The biggest challenge for me was to play the character of Kumud Misra authentically so that people believe that this character really belonged to that place and time.
How was it working with Ritwik Bhowmik and Satyadeep Misra?
I don’t have any scenes with Satyadeep Misra. However, I do have quite a few scenes with Ritwik. Working with Ritwik was amazing, as he is a very thoughtful actor and comes with a lot of homework. We really share a good rapport. We both had one scene that couldn’t make it to the final cut, but it was a lovely scene. It was an intense scene, and our chemistry came out very well in that shot. We thoroughly enjoyed working together.
In your recent interviews you spoke about regressive content on television. Do you think the emergence of OTT has changed the way people look at content now?
OTT has changed the scenario in a significant way. There has been a radical change in the content. Earlier, there was limited content explored in films and TV but the OTT audience is different. Many filmmakers and writers from all over the world are creating original stories and subjects to tell. It’s a good change. The range and sensibility of content has also increased simultaneously.
Unlike earlier, today actresses over 40 are taking the lead and carrying a film on their shoulders. How do you look at this change as an actor?
I think this is the best time to be an actor. Especially for the actress above 40 or 50 because in recent years, the age barrier and stereotypes have been broken significantly. Now 40 plus actresses are becoming the main protagonists, and their stories are being told. Also, people’s perception that female centric content doesn’t work has completely changed. Now, it’s not the sex or gender of the character, it’s all about the story. I think it’s a big change in the industry. I am very hopeful that this trend carries forward.
As an actor who has been in this industry for so many years, how much does screen time matter to you?
I think screen time matters. If your visibility is good, screen time is more and scenes are great then your scope of performance also increases. Also, the opportunity to bring your talent on the table and showcase your dimensions as an actor is greater in that case. Of course, sometimes with less screen time, one can do well, but it matters most of the time.
Apart from film and television, you are one actor who is happiest doing theatres.
Yes, theatre is my first love, and I never left it. I still go back to the theatre whenever I feel a little disconnected with the world. After ‘Balika Vadhu’, I hardly did one show and then completely switched to theatre for four to five years. I do theatre very regularly, and it gives me a lot of creative satisfaction.
Today’s youth regard theatres as merely a stepping stone to Bollywood. Your thoughts…
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that because theatre is a creative and educational space. New actors who don’t have formal training in acting can learn the art through theatre. It’s also a personal journey about where they learn and how they apply what they’ve learned. It all depends on an individual’s passion and how he or she wants to polish their craft.Source