Punjabi girl Sukhmani Sadana never thought that she would venture into acting and eventually make it big in the B-town. However, that’s what destiny had in store for her, and she gracefully paved her way from being a writer in an advertising agency to penning some blockbuster web series and movies, and donning the actress hat with utmost charm.
In an exclusive interview with Sukhmani, we get to know more about her professional journey, her fitness mantra, some of her upcoming projects to look out for, and a lot more. Happy reading!
Walk us through your journey as an actress. When did it start? Is this something that you always wanted to do?
I had no plans for acting as nobody in my family has ever acted. I came to Mumbai to Xaviers College only for studying and I wanted to basically be a writer. I came here to study advertising and marketing which was a post-graduate diploma course at Xavier’s Institute of Communications (XIC). After that, I worked in Ogilvy and Mather, an advertising agency, for about 2 years where I was working as a copywriter. I was writing scripts for Vodafone, Parachute and Garnier to name a few and my team and my boss used to keep me in those ads as a model. They used to pull my leg saying that you look quite okay so might as well use you as a model. That’s how I did some print ads for Parachute, Garnier and stuff. After that when I left Ogilvy and Mather as a writer, somebody spotted me and asked me to host travel shows and then I hosted more than 100 episodes of travel shows across the world. You know how work gets you more work and someone spotted me and gave me the TV show Khote Sikke and after that, I got a web series and so on and so forth. And before I knew it, I was getting so many opportunities for writing I was a little confused as I always wanted to be a writer. So, I never left that and continued to write along with my acting projects. I was a bit picky about my acting projects because only when it was something very exciting, I used to be interested in doing them.
What are some of your celebrated projects so far?
For some of the celebrated projects that I have done, the film that I wrote 1920 London was a super-duper hit. It was by Vikram Bhatt. Not many people are making horror films. Another film which I wrote was Phir Se on Netflix which did really well. It was about two divorcees falling in love and it was directed and produced by Kunal Kohli. After that, there was another love story called Love Bytes which was India’s first web series. That’s something that got me a lot of recognition because there was no web series then and people really enjoyed the idea of watching a TV show on their phone and laptop. Dil Bekrar my web series on Disney Hotstar, got me a lot of compliments for that. Currently, my show which is on air is called Apharan 2 on Voot that has got me a lot of recognition and I can say that Apharan 2 has been a gamechanger for me. Apart from that even Khote Sikke, the show that I acted for Yash Raj Films did really well then. Even now people keep messaging me to come back with another season but that was years back and is not going to happen. My travel shows have been viewed across the world and I often keep meeting people even now who say that they love my travel shows on CNN IBN, NDTV Good Times and travel channel Travel XP. So, my travel shows I can say are the most recognised projects that I have done so far.
Tell us about your upcoming OTT project, Apharan 2?
When I got a call from the casting director for the show, I was very unsure why he called me because that was very different from what I am in real life. She was a very dangerous hardcore, emotionless and a negative person and someone everybody was scared of, and I did not think my image was something close to that. I was taken aback but obviously, it’s very challenging to play a role, unlike your real character. So, it was exciting for me, and it was something new for me because I have always played the girl next door kind of character. So that’s what happened and fortunately, it turned out better than what I had in mind. Of course, a lot of training was involved, and a lot of action sequences were there, and I am someone who doesn’t know action. I had to take martial arts and kickboxing classes for about three months, and it all turned out well.
What were some challenges that you had to face while shooting for Apharan 2?
During the shoot, there were a lot of challenges from Day 1. I have a double role in the show, so I had to go from being a woman wearing leather boots, a leather jacket, pants, green lenses, and black lipstick to suddenly a woman from Haridwar who’s wearing a saree and sindhoor. Obviously, the language is something I had to make sure was very different because the first woman was from Belgrade, and she is very poised and well-spoken. And the other girl is someone who speaks the classic Hindi language from Haridwar. So, I had to take classes for that also because I am a Punjabi, and I don’t get that language at all. Apart from that shooting at Belgrade was a challenge because temperatures there were minus degrees, and it was very cold, and my co-actors were fully clad. In contrast, I had to wear chiffon sarees and sit on the 60th floor and the 50th floor at the top of a building where it was very breezy, and I literally couldn’t feel my limbs at all. After every shot, they had to put silicon stickers on my body, which warmed up the body basically and they had to thaw my hands with heaters literally because otherwise, you can’t walk down after the shooting as your limbs have no sensation. The temperature was a bit of a challenge and yes even the action sequence as I had recovered from dengue and covid. I did this action sequence on the bridge the first day after my recovery when I got up so that was very tedious.
Tell us about your Chandigarh/Punjabi connection?
Punjab is home for me, and it will always be. I have been in Mumbai for 15 years now, but Punjab feels like home. I am very connected to my roots, and it is a big part of me that cannot go anywhere. I know when people move to different cities they adapt to their culture but for me, I will always be a Punjabi. I studied there till I was 16 and then went to a boarding school so actually, I have been in Amritsar till I was 16 years old. I left the city many years back but there is something that keeps pulling me back and each time when I go back home, I feel that my inherent place, my inherent nature, and my vibe is that city. I feel at home there, love the culture, love the food, love the people. I connect a lot to the people as we are all empathetic, we are affectionate, and we are loving so I connect a lot to the people and pace there.
What is your fitness mantra?
I have a few rules I have been following for years, I don’t eat sweets. I am not very fond of sweets as I don’t have a sweet tooth. I don’t do carbs after 6 p.m. I don’t eat wheat, I don’t eat maida, I only have rice-based products. I am not a big fan of dairy and that works for me. Thankfully all the things which are healthy are a part of my life. I make sure that I work out five times a week, be it a run or any sorts of body weights, yoga, stretching, swimming, tennis or whatever but just be active for sure. Apart from that, it’s very important to basically just eat well, and sleep a lot as fitness has a lot to do with sleep. I make sure that I sleep for 7 hours a day. It is directly proportional to how you look, and your fitness. Thrice a week I do intermittent fasting, giving my body a break and filling myself with a lot of water and keep having a lot of fruits as I feel you look like what you eat so just eat well.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
There are quite a few actually. On the writing front, there is a film that is releasing on Netflix that has been directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. Diljit Dosanjh is acting in it. On the writing front, I have worked as an additional writer on a film called Rocketry which is produced and directed and acted by R Madhavan and we also have Shahrukh Khan in the film. On the writing front, I also had a film called Manoranjan and the actor was Gul Panag. I am writing a film for HBO which is probably the most exciting project that’s going on right now. On the acting front, I have a show which is going to be released soon, which is an adaptation of an Israeli show that’s produced by Applause. And on the writing front, I have a show called Udan Patola, which will be released sometime soon. On the acting front, I have another show with BBC, which is going to release in two months where I am playing opposite Jaideep Ahlawat.
One final message for all our readers.
I guess no one needs my advice and I am not at a stage of life where I should be giving advice. But I feel everyone has his or her own journey and everyone has their own answers. I don’t think I am someone who should be telling people what to do with their lives, but we all have our own struggles and achievements. Nobody knows better than us how we should deal with our lives. I hope you all are wise enough to have the clarity and deal with your lives how you are meant to. I wish you all the best!