In Conversation With Sukhmani Sadana: The Accidental Actress


From the streets of Amritsar to the billboards of Bombay, Sukhmani Sadana has made a substantial mark in the film industry–not only as an actor but as a writer as well. We’ve seen her travel the world on National Geographic, but what is she up to now? Read on to know her favourite travel destination, her Cannes experience and her beauty regime-

ELLE: How did you get started in the film industry?

Sukhmani Sadana: Well, I never planned on becoming an actress. Nobody in my family is even remotely associated with the Bollywood industry. Moreover, I’m from a small town of Amritsar. So, Bollywood was a far-fetched thing. But when I came to Bombay to study advertising and marketing, I got picked from my campus to work in Ogilvy and Mather. While writing advertisements for them, I was also nudged to act in them. And before I knew it, I was offered to host a travel show. One project led to another, and I got recognised and was offered more opportunities. Once Bombay accepts you, it never leaves you. 

ELLE: Which role–actor, host and screenwriter–has been your favourite so far?

Sukhmani: This is a tough question because I cannot choose at all. Bombay has given me a lot and that’s why I love it. And while the city takes its own time, it really loves you back. In fact, last year was a struggle for me to continue with my acting projects because my writing profession became very demanding. Not to forget that I host about two events every week. So I try my best to juggle all three which is quite exhausting but equally gratifying.

ELLE: You’ve travelled extensively while hosting shows for multiple platforms. Which has been your favourite travel destination and why?

Sukhmani: I find hidden gems to be my favourite travel destination. The one place that blew my mind was Machu Picchu in Peru. I remember trekking to go see the top of this wonder of the world–I was dehydrated, my legs were jelly, and my knees were giving away. But when I reached the top, it was all worth it. To me, the place is still a mystery.

The second place which has been memorable for me is Cambodia. I loved discovering its culture, food, temples, spirituality and religious traditions. The Angkor Wat temple there is a magical place. Being from Amritsar, Golden Temple has always been the best for me. But Angkor Wat was surreal.

ELLE: You were in the writers’ team for the Oscar-nominated Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. How was your experience presenting it at the Cannes Film Festival?

Sukhmani: Honestly, I think that was the one moment of my life where I felt like I’ve arrived. Life has funny ways of working things out. A few years ago when I went to Cannes on a holiday, I wasn’t even allowed to enter and take a picture on those steps. But last year, I was handed a VIP entry to the festival. I would give full credit to Maddie (R. Madhavan) for Rocketry because he worked so hard on this.

I feel very fortunate to be in the writing team with him. Rocketry was the inaugural film of the festival from India. The respect that the film, Maddie and I received was mesmerising, to say the least. And being surrounded by lauded cinema personalities from across the world was just surreal. I remember putting up a post on my Instagram saying, ‘Been called a small-town girl my whole life. Small-town girls also make it to Cannes!’ It is a memory that I will take to the grave with me.

ELLE: Your commitment to fitness is quite evident in your social media presence. What is your fitness mantra?

Sukhmani: My fitness mantra is balance. My balance is not only on the macro level in life, but even in little things. When it comes to fitness, I’m not an extremist. I wish I could go to the gym seven days a week, but I’m a freelancer with a very busy and chaotic life. So, unfortunately, I can’t have a routine. But I do try to go to the gym for an hour three to four times a week. I’m not really happy with my fitness routine and would like to do a tad bit more. Thanks to my genetics, I’m on the fit side.

ELLE: What are a few beauty practices that you religiously follow?

Sukhmani: I was actually not very regimented but in the last few years, I have definitely formed a routine for myself. I ice my face every morning to help reduce inflammation, redness and puffy eyes. After that, I wash my face with an absolutely basic face wash and follow it up with a rosewater toner. I follow this with a vitamin C serum to brighten the skin and apply a moisturising cream to combat my dry skin woes. I finish it with a layer of sunscreen. At night, I add an under-eye cream to my routine and make sure to never sleep with makeup on.

I prefer home remedies and thus, put multani mitti on my face once a week. I sometimes make a face pack with besan, cucumber, lime juice, raw milk and potato juice and freeze it into ice cubes. I thoroughly enjoy my weekly virgin coconut hair oil massage. I have my apple, beetroot, carrot, aloe vera and ginger juice every single day religiously for breakfast and never miss my supplements.

ELLE: Tell us about your upcoming projects?

Sukhmani: Currently I’m writing a finance show for Applause. I really enjoy writing because every time I write on a new subject, I learn something new about it. When I wrote Jogi, I got to learn about the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots and when I worked on Rocketry, I learned so much about NASA and ISRO. Apart from that, this year, I want to spend more time with my own concepts because usually, I’m always writing for someone. I’ve started my own company with a team of assistant writers where I will bank my ideas, develop them and then pitch them to producers and directors.

On the acting front, I am starting with season two of Udan Patolas, The Broken News, Apharan, Tanaav, and Dil Bakaraar. In the next four months, I’m also hosting something related to sports and fashion. These are the bigger projects. I’m also getting invited by resorts, cities and tourism departments to cover them for my Instagram. So when I get two to three days off, I go to these places and make a holiday out of it. But acting and writing take precedence.

Beauty Writer

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