'Anika' of popular star plus soap 'Ishqbaaz' has not only become a household name but also boasts of being one of the most loved characters of the contemporary Indian television world.
Being earnestly followed by a huge fan base 'Anika' certainly has struck a chord with the audience.
We caught up with the real life 'Anika' aka Surbhi Chandna in her reel life avatar on the sets of 'Ishqbaaz'.
Shaking off her reel life self, the adorable actress was at her candid best as we sat for a talk.
Excerpts from the conversation -
Abhijeet Tayung : Surbhi, you have become a household name with a huge fan following in such a short span of time.
Congratulations on your achievement.
Surbhi Chandna : Thank you.
Abhijeet Tayung : Surbhi, you did your Master Degree in Management Studies from 'Atharva Institute of Management Studies'. Then you started off with a corporate job. All of a sudden, you took to acting.
How did 'acting' happen? Was it by chance or it was always there in your mind ?
Surbhi Chandna : Well, my parents wanted me to first complete my studies, they wanted me to do engineering but somehow it didn’t materialize. So, I did my graduation in Bachelor of Management Studies and subsequently completed the MMS as well.
One of my mother’s friend was a television actress who advised my parents to encourage me to give a shot at acting. I started working on small projects but never in my mind did I have the thought that I would take up acting full time. Along the way ‘Qubool’ happened and it paved the way for ‘Ishqbaaz’.
Abhijeet Tayung : 'Qubool' was a break through, right?
Surbhi Chandna : Exactly, it gave me the much needed break. I was totally new when I bagged the role of 'Haya' - a parallel lead in the popular Zee TV serial ‘Qubool’.
It was indeed a daunting task to play a character as challenging as 'Haya' - a deaf and mute girl at the very onset of my career. That too, without an acting background or any prior training on acting.
But fortunately, it was received well by the viewers and it really boosted my confidence and my career as well.
Abhijeet Tayung : Without any acting background or prior training, how did you manage to get in the groove so well so soon ?
Surbhi Chandna : Yes, it's true that I don't come from an acting background nor did I have any prior experience. But I was always inclined towards theatre. I have had the privilege of being part of workshops conducted by prominent theatre personalities such as Neeraj Kavi and Atul Mongia.
I have learnt a lot from observing others' performance on the set. And I'm still learning.
Abhijeet Tayung: Tell us about your share of struggle on your way to where you are today ?
Surbhi Chandna : I have heard a lot about others struggle and hardships. Yes, I have had my share of struggle but it's different from that of others.
After 'Qubool', I was without work for around seven eight months. It's not that I wasn't getting any offer but I was not ready to settle for anything small. I made up my mind to accept nothing but a lead role or one with a substance. During those days I would grow desperate to get back to work mode. It was a lean patch.
It was during that time Gul Khan, the producer of 'Qubool' was working on a new project for star plus. One fine day she called me to audition for a role and finally I bagged it.
Never knew, it would eventually become as big as 'Anika' has become today.
Abhijeet Tayung : Yes, 'Anika' is a rage today. You are being religiously followed by your fans. Does it create any pressure on you to live up to their expectations ?
Surbhi Chandna : Yeah it does. You know, television audience is very much attached to the characters and they tend to believe that their favorite actors are exactly the way they are on-screen. Obviously then, viewers would like them to be what they are loved for.
An actor would never like to lose out on the love and support of their fans. So, there's always an effort to live up to their expectations. Hence the pressure, but it feels great.
Abhijeet Tayung : Working for a daily soap you have to shoot day in and day out. How do you make time for yourself, your family and friends ?
Surbhi Chandna : It being a Sunday, I was supposed to be on a holiday but you guys have played the spoilsport by hovering around me and interviewing me.
(bursts into laughter)
Just kidding, ok.
Well, fortunately my family is with me. So, I always get to meet them. But then, I have to spend hours on the set leaving me with hardly any time to be able to spend quality time with them.
Still, I make it a point to make time to dine out or go to a movie with family and friends every now and then.
Yes, I don't get to socialize and have 'me time' as much as I would like to but at this stage I can't afford to give it a thought. I think this is the time for me to work hard, learn and establish myself.
Hopefully, I reach a stage soon when I can spend more and more time with my near and dear ones.
Abhijeet Tayung : You spend most part of your time shooting which makes you remain in the character for long. This way, you are virtually living two different lives - reel and real. How do you manage switching between these two parallel lives? Does your reel self clash with your real self ?
Surbhi Chandna : Fortunately, I don't take work home.
Abhijeet Tayung : From 'QUBOOL' to 'ISHQBAAZ' - you have come a long way. Any memorable incident along the way ?
Surbhi Chandna : When I was working in 'Qubool' I was very new in the industry. I had no idea about fame, popularity etc. I wasn't very active on social platforms either.
One day after shoot I went to a mall nearby my house. I was approached and surrounded by a bunch of people. I was surprised to see them recognize me without make up.
As we interacted they were like 'hey, you can speak. Are you not a ‘deaf’?
I was blown away by the fact that they were so much convinced that I was in reality a 'deaf' just like the character I was playing in the serial.