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Raveena Tandon was first choice for Aarya Heres why she

Raveena Tandon was first choice for Aarya. Here’s why she said no to it | Web Series

Of the many cliched quotes on karma, one stands out for Raveena Tandon: “Karma is extremely efficient if one is extremely patient.” The actor waited 10 long years for her upcoming show Karmma Calling to be greenlit by studio gods. But the long halt turned out to be in her favour as Raveena admits she couldn’t have done the show back when it was first offered to her.

Raveena Tandon plays a '90s actor in Karmma Calling
Raveena Tandon plays a ’90s actor in Karmma Calling

(Also Read: Karmma Calling trailer: Raveena Tandon can’t escape her karma in this glamourous revenge drama. Watch)

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Karmma origins

“I said yes to this show 10 years ago. But somehow, somewhere, when the universe aligns your stars, then only a thing that’s meant to happen actually happens,” Raveena told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview. When director Ruchi Narain approached Raveena for her debut show on Star TV, Raveena explained she wouldn’t be able to take time out for the long shoot, given her son Ranbir Thadani was quite young.

Fortunately for her, the show didn’t take off. Gaurav Banerjee from Star India was sold on Ruchi’s idea to adapt ABC’s crime saga Revenge. He approached Star’s then-rival ABC Network, but couldn’t get the adaptation rights, forcing them to put it on the backburner. However, years later, ABC’s parent company Disney acquired Star’s parent company Fox. It paved the way for Gaurav, now head of content at Disney+ Hotstar, to greenlight Ruchi’s Revenge adaptation, that turned out to be Karmma Calling.

Karma twins

It wasn’t a question of just Disney and Star coming together, but also that of Raveena uniting with Ruchi after two failed attempts. “I’ve been wanting to work with Ruchi for the longest of time. So I guess things fell into place for us. Because my go-to person for everything is Ruchi, and Ruchi’s go-to person for every script is me, to a certain extent,” said Raveena. She revealed she couldn’t do Ruchi’s last show, Hundred, also for Disney+ Hotstar, which was eventually headlined by Lara Dutta.

Raveena was of the firm opinion that she wanted her digital debut to showcase her in an avatar no one has ever seen her in before. For an actor who has straddled romantic roles like Mohra (1994), comedic characters like Dulhe Raja (1998), and National Award-winning performances like Daman (2001), doing a part she’s never been seen in is a tall ask. She chucked the cop lady in Hundred to play yet another police officer, though in a refreshingly different light, in Netflix India’s Aranyak (2021).

Raveena Tandon played a cop in Aranyak
Raveena Tandon played a cop in Aranyak

Not a ’90s girl

Raveena shared a familiar origin with Indrani Kothari, her character from Karmma Calling. Both are ‘90s actors, though Indrani quit Bollywoood and relocated to Alibaug with her family. Raveena maintains Indrani is another character she shares no similarities with, but in the very first episode, we see her break into the hook step of Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast from Mohra in an impromptu dance with her kids. Raveena hesitantly attributes that ‘tribute’ to Ruchi.

“Identifying with the character? I did not, because she’s someone completely different. And that’s what won me over. A lot of actors are comfortable in playing what they are in real life. And they’re big successes at that. But for me, that does not work. I see to it that every role I pick up is completely different from the last one. I’ve achieved that with Indrani because she’s this high-society woman. Yes, the only similarity might be she was a ‘90s actor and has given up her work. I started in the ’90s, but I haven’t given up work,” said Raveena.

Ruchi always had Raveena in mind for Indrani. And her choice over the years has only gotten emboldened further. “Of course, as a personality, Raveena is very different from the character. But there were 2 reasons for me why she was a no-brainer. Firstly, I didn’t know her when I first went to her. But her physical appearance, she’s drop-dead gorgeous. That’s an important trait of the character as well. Secondly, her inner strength. Whatever happens, she has a strong core,” Ruchi said.

She added that as she grew to know Raveena personally, she got another reason that justified her casting choice. “Through the last 10 years, when we’ve become friends, I’ve realised she’s all about family. That’s the most important aspect of her personality. I love that about her. That’s also something which is in the show, though it plays out differently,” said Ruchi. Ironically, it was because of her family commitments that Raveena first said no to the show 10 years ago.

Hotstar debut

Hundred isn’t the only Hotstar show Raveena said no to. We learnt exclusively that she was also the first choice of Ram Madhvani’s family crime drama Aarya, eventually headlined by Sushmita Sen. “While these were really exciting scripts, but somewhere I wanted to do something that the audience have never got a chance to see me as before. Hence, I chose Aranyak to be my digital debut. It really worked well for me. That year was just full of awards. That gamble paid off,” said Raveena.

She admitted that she’s a “greedy actor” who wanted to do every project that came to her and eventually became successful, like Aarya. “There are many times when I’ve met Ram and Nikhil (Madhok) from Hotstar then, that I said, ‘We have to do something (together).’ I’m really waiting to work with Ram. I had to explain to him why I couldn’t do Aarya. Then he understood my reason.

Raveena Tandon on Karma.
Raveena Tandon on Karma.

Aarya isn’t the only major project she turned down. That list goes from Phool Aur Kaante (1991) to Chaiyya Chaiyya in Dil Se (1998). “Till date, Karan (Johar) holds me accountable for not doing Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Rani Mukerji’s part). I was like, ‘Yar tu mujhse aur kuchh bhi kara le.’ In fact, there was a Dharma film Varun Sood and me were supposed to do together, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. When Ruchi showed me his photo, I was like, ‘You have to sign him. He looks like my son,’” said Raveena, revealing the story behind the casting of Varun as her son in Karmma Calling.

However, saying no comes with its fair share of advantages for Raveena. She has four projects lined up for this year across genres – Karmma Calling, Patna Shukla, Ghudchadi, and Welcome Back, where she plays an Afghani. “I think I’ve made that conscious decision (of experimenting). Because I’m not at that stage where I want to see my face every Friday or on some OTT platform every month. I’m fine doing quality work than quantity. I enjoy that more. And then I get more time at home. So the balance works out,” said Raveena, signing off.

Karmma Calling will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar on January 26.

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