The lead star of Badtameez dil, an upcoming series, Ridhi Dogra, introduces herself as more than just an actor. From her first ever television show in 2007 to playing one of the lead roles in the web series Asur 2, Ridhi Dogra has carved her name alongside experimenting with different kinds of roles. The performer of Nach Baliye 6, participant in Fear: Khatron Ke Khiladi, co- producer on zoom, host of Azaadi, and now an OTT actor, opens up about one of the many scenarios she has made while sitting by the windowsill sipping over her warm cup of coffee on how she has always dreamt of being more than just a niche specific actor and her desire to be known for the pure art of acting.
ELLE: Your character in Badtameez Dil is that of an old-school lover. How would you distinguish between your reel and your real self when it comes to love?
RD:The character that I play in Badtameez Dil is probably an amalgamation of a lot of things. I don’t think I am exactly like that. The character has a very particular and unique story to her life. When you look at anything from the lens of love, everybody has been through similar situations. So maybe I’m not where she is right now, but in my life I’ve been stupid in love, loved somebody who hasn’t loved me back, had crushes on people and built stories in my head and cried myself through heartbreaks. When you are younger the first one or two heartbreaks seem to be the end of life. The first time I went through a heartbreak, I really thought that it was all over for me. But then you grow up. I am somebody who believes a lot in the value system. No matter who you are, integrity, trust, and respect are crucial in a relationship. Because love usually goes out of the window but what remains is the character of the person we are with or our character that we bring into the relationship.
ELLE:What has your journey from Jhoome Jiiya Re to Asur 2 been like?
RD: My journey has been pretty amazing. I wanted to be an actor for exactly and precisely the journey that I am having. I didn’t want any 2 days at work to be the same. Before I did that first show of mine, Jhoome Jiya Re, I was working in an office where I would have to go and log in every morning at a particular time. That was my life for a year and a half. And it was a life I was sure that I didn’t want. I wanted to be my own boss and I wanted to do my own thing. While growing up, I never really wanted to be an actor, I was a dancer. I was always very comfortable on stage performing in front of an audience. But, I am more than happy to be here. It is not easy being an actor or being in this profession. But the journey is exactly what I wanted– I always wanted a life where I was my own boss and I go with the flow and I govern my days. It is exactly how I am living my life today and I am very grateful for that.
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ELLE: A lot of people say the people you meet on set become your family, Do you agree with that? If yes, who would you call your go-to person?
RD:Well, I have had friends from every show and every project of mine. I still am friends with people I knew from probably the first show I did. I do try to keep in touch in some way or the other, check in on people, or just generally be in touch. It is a beautiful thing that happens in our profession; we all come together as a family. Filmmaking is such a wholesome process, when you are shooting, you end up living together and that itself is a very gratifying experience. What we do involves being sensitive and bringing our vulnerable sides to work, by default, we tend to open up a bit to the people around us. Of course, not everyone is the same, and people would have their own reservations; some are more emotionally available than others. But I find it comfortable to let loose and hang out with people on set, especially when they are like-minded and are in my age bracket. Badtameez Dil was a great team; we were all around the same age and would hang out every day post pack up.
ELLE: Badtameez Dil shows modern-day relationships. Do you think the situationship culture is here to stay? How comfortable are you with modern-day relationships, which involve so much guesswork?
RD:I think it’s because of social media that there is a lot of noise around these things. There’s a dialogue that my character says in Badtameez Dil, which I feel is so true. She says that “You know whether it’s Jane Austen’s ballroom galas, clubbing culture or the social media culture of today we are all looking for somebody constantly. The cycle of hoping, jumping, skipping and falling will keep going on, but eventually we are looking for that person with whom we find comfort.” Every generation is more modern than its previous generation; the ’60s generation was more modern than the ’30s and so on. As for ‘situationship’, it is just a phase many of us go through. When you don’t really want to commit but you are also not with anybody else, you don’t want to give it the label of a relationship. But eventually you want a home and want to settle down with someone. I feel love is always modern, and love is love. You can’t really update it with tags and labels. We all have our unique and individual processes and paths; the routes might be different but the destination still is to find love.
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ELLE: Your roles in Badtameez Dil and Asur have been poles apart. How do you get into the character in such a short time span?
RD: The feeling of getting into a character that’s not even close to my real life personality excites me to work harder each day. The fun and challenge of being an actor is that we get to play all kinds of characters, and I am no different. I like putting my head and my heart into becoming somebody who’s not me on paper; I like to give her meaning, purpose and give her some flesh and breathing space. It is an amazing process. You build that character bit by bit from the material given to you while also keeping in mind that it is relatable and resonates with you first. If it doesn’t resonate with the actor, it won’t resonate with the audience.I absolutely love the process, and I do a lot of workshops, ask a lot of questions, before getting into it. At the start of any project, I am like a blank page. I don’t go in with any preconceived notions about how I want to approach the character,I go in with questions and doubts and sit with the creator of the character to understand its core and clear my doubts. I am not embarrassed to ask questions. For me, it is crucial to ground the character. Then it’s my homework, and well when you have done your homework properly, you just have to apply it while shooting.
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ELLE: What is one thing you take back after working with SRK?
RD: Legends like him teach you a lot. I am fortunate that I have the privilege of seeing him work on set. He has an insane amount of humility and is a total team player—he wants the team to do well and is very helpful. He would often help me out with my lines, and he is great as a co-actor. Also, he brings with him a very child-like quality– it is something many of us have when we start off our careers, but eventually it fades away as we get deeper into the grind. He has maintained that all through these years, and that imbues his work with a certain freshness that reflects every time you see him on screen. I think that itself is an art. It is something I really learned from him, and I hope to bring it into my work as well.