Karishma Tanna is no stranger to the world of entertainment. After a noteworthy debut in the television industry with Ekta Kapoor’s Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi in 2001, the actress has only scaled up solely due to sheer dedication towards her craft. A lot of female-centric roles came her way and she embraced them with open arms with shows like Hush Hush and a cameo in Guilty Minds. She is currently making headlines with her breakthrough performance in Scoop helmed by Hansal Mehta. Based on the real-life of crime reporter Jigna Vora, Karishma has established herself as an actress of exceptional calibre. In a candid conversation with Filmfare, she reveals her experience of playing a real-life character, the OTT revolution and why all you need sometimes is for someone to believe in your talent. Excerpts….
Were you aware of Jigna Vora’s case before you were approached for Scoop?
When I was offered this role I didn’t know about the case. I knew about the incident that happened in 2011 in Powai where a crime reporter was shot in broad daylight. I knew about that. I didn’t know what the repercussions were. When I was offered this role I was told it is inspired by a real story and it is inspired by this book called Behind Bars In Byculla by Jigna Vora and that is when I went online and started searching for what exactly happened. Of course, we have dramatised and fictionalised it for the show and the audience. Hansal Sir didn’t want me to mimic anybody or didn’t want me to see or meet anybody and take notes on the main character.
What made Hansal Mehta approach you for this role?
When I saw the script I could see it is a Gujarati character and she is a crime reporter. After my audition, I got to know it is for Hansal Mehta and it is a real story. I of course was praying that I get the role. When we were doing interviews with Hansal Sir and he said when he saw my interview, he saw that hustle and hunger in her acting and to show if given a chance, she can prove himself. Also, the character of Jagruti Pathak had that hunger and hustle to be on top of her game. To be on the front page, her bylines have to be on the first page. She had that ambition, she had that hustle and hunger which he saw in my audition and that is how I got the role.
Did you have any workshops to get into the skin of what the character demanded?
I was shadowing a crime reporter for the longest time. We went to the cop’s stations, and we spoke to them. I got to know how a crime reporter speaks to cops, and how the stories are researched upon. What is field work and body language like? Hansal sir wanted Jagruti Pathak to be bigger than the actor.
Be it Hush Hush, now Scoop, you’re getting roles where female characters get to show their worth…
There is a sense of satisfaction that I have played something different, something very challenging. I have never done something like this before and that has only happened because I wanted to get into that zone of acting. I wanted to do something different, de-glam roles, I wanted to do a female-centric, female-protagonist kind of role. I am very lucky and would like to thank my directors who believed in me and who gave me the part. So that the audience can see how I can act and what I can showcase.
Your character is the epitome of you know what it takes to be a hustler and go-getter, do you think it’s worth it considering the collateral damage that comes along with it?
I feel everyone is ambitious. Everyone wants to be right here and be a hustler and prove themselves. It is not bad to be hungry for work, to work that hard. This is one in 100 cases like something like this can happen. It is worth taking the risk. Jigna’s case can happen to anybody but that doesn’t mean you stop taking risks.
How involved was Jigna Vora in the entire making of the series?
She trusted the entire process, the entire team and Hansal Sir. She did not come to the set, she came during the end schedule when we were shooting in Ghatkopar and she came with Gujarati food. She was excited to meet Hansal Sir and me because she was like Oh god I am meeting someone who is playing me. It was very surreal. It was very different to meet somebody who is a live person and I am playing that character in front of the camera. So it was like a Jigna talking to a Jagruti. It was a very different feeling. When she came and met us, it was very warm – a lot of pain, a lot of questions in her eyes which we could see. But the meeting was good. It was very special.
Most of his best moments in the series were said to be unplanned…
As an actor, you understand your director very well and with time you know what he likes. He loves impromptu and unplanned things and those are the best moments in the scenes. There are scenes where I don’t want to cry but I cry and he loves that. As he said about that jail scene, I was just watching tv and it was a small screen. Those reporters were insulting Jagruti Pathak on TV. There were 300 jailmates and they suddenly started screaming – Pathak, Pathak! Everybody is just saying Pathak Pathak and that scene humiliated me more as Jagruti Pathak. And that scene came out so well that I had goosebumps when I talked about it also.
Harman Baweja has made quite a comeback with the show…
I have known Harman for a long time. He has been my friend for years now. and when I got to know that Harman was coming back, I was pleasantly surprised and happy. I was very excited to work with him because I never had. Before every scene, we used to giggle and laugh. I could see in his eyes, too, that hunger to show that he’s back. He could see it in my eyes too: Here I am, look at me. I am an actor. So we both had that connection going on, and we both wanted to prove ourselves. And that worked.
How did your husband, Varun Bangera, react to the show?
The husband was very proud. He is lucky for me. I met him while I was doing Hush Hush and we were dating when I got Scoop. I just feel my best work has come when he is in my life. I call him my lucky charm and vice versa. He has already taken my autograph. When I told him I have gotten this show, this is the role and character – he was like it was going to be big. Every time anyone tells him his wife has done a good job in Scoop. His heart swells up with pride.
What was the first conversation like with team Scoop after the initial wave of great reviews?
We celebrated, of course. We met and were very excited. I was the most excited. Harman and Zeeshan have been in the industry for a long time and they are very chill. I was like hello it’s releasing. Nobody had the expectation of it doing so well. I was surprised when the kind of reaction I got after it was released and people have loved it so much that I have called Hansal sir every day and said I can’t believe the show has done so well, the responses I am getting, the kind of reactions I am getting on social media, it’s so good. He’s just like chill, enjoy the moment. It’s there, just be in the moment. Live for today. I am very happy.
Did this show finally make you realise your potential?
I knew I had the capability and ability to act. But I didn’t know if that chance would ever come to me but somewhere there was hope also that I will get one chance where I will show that this is my talent. I hope I get good work now. When I look back at Scoop I think I have done a good job. People have cried when I have cried and people have related to the character, they can relate to how ambitious this girl is, and how she is with her family and child. When she goes to jail, how she feels vulnerable. People have appreciated that.