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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Bepannaah & Beyond: The Tete-A-Tete with Jennifer Winget

Jennifer Winget is a name which is synonymous with beauty, humility, talent and grace. 

Beginning as a child artist in films like Akele Hum Akele Tum to being most desired by viewers across the globe, Jennifer has been cementing her position and acting calibre. 

From essaying the effervescent Dr Riddhima in Dil Mill Gayye to playing the dark/layered character of Maya in Beyhadh, her craft of work is outstanding.

Even as a person, she comes across as a very calm, collected and vivacious individual who has her heart and mind in the right place. 

In a reflective chat with Filme Shilmy, we get to know more about Jennifer Winget and her journey to stardom.

Bepannaah wrapped up quite some time ago but yet Zoya is loved so much. What is your reaction to this?

I am over the moon and I feel blessed!

It’s a real privilege to play a character that people adore and love even after the show winds up.

Also, it’s good to know that Zoya hasn’t been forgotten and for an actor that is really fulfilling.

Your negative role in Beyhadh shattered the stereotypical image of a female protagonist on Indian television. Is this what you hoped for and would you be keen on playing more such characters in the future?

Yes, yes and yes to all of the above.

It was about time I shook things up for myself as an actor and shake it did! It’s definitely something

I hoped for before we started shooting, but honestly didn’t expect Maya to reach the magnitude that it did!

I’m glad I got the opportunity to play her with that a fabulous team to work with.

They were every bit as passionate and complemented each other so well. It’s what made the show work.

So yeah, 100% I would like to play untapped, out of the box, beautifully written characters, even the ones you despise and hate so much on the show but become so unforgettable!

You are amongst the few actors who have managed to reinvent themselves on the Indian Television front. How challenging has this been for you, given that it is so easy to be typecast?

Honestly, consider myself very lucky to have portrayed characters that have helped me reinvent myself as an actor and more so as a person.

But it has not always been easy, there have been times especially when you play a strong character.

It gets tough to get into the skin of the character and then to shed that skin back after you’ve finished with your work. But I guess that’s the challenge an actor lives for!

The process of playing a character, the research and homework, sometimes even the physical training that comes with a role, so much learning and unlearning about your craft.

This itself is the most exciting part of an actor’s job.

That and the unconditional support and love from a bigger family of fans that we get for all our characters combined. And that’s why I love being an actor.

Your career essentially began at quite a young age. What was that journey like for you? How did you balance both education with acting?

All was smooth sailing.

I have been very fortunate to have parents that helped me keep my head on my shoulders as I was growing up, that kept me grounded and still does.

You learn how to value your work, your relationships that matter as well.

After doing a few films as a child artist, you did the show Shaka Laka Boom Boom. What impact did growing up in the entertainment industry have on you as a person?

I have always taken things one step at a time and have been my toughest critic, so I try not to benchmark myself with anyone or anything else.

My focus is what I do for that point in time.

Growing up in this industry has helped me in a way that I feel like this is home.

I came in at simpler times and my experience in the industry has been a pleasant one.

But it sure has been a long one you don’t feel like an outsider rather that you belong.

Giving your best comes easy then.

It feels amazing that people remember most of the characters I’ve played no matter how long ago it was.

But more importantly, I hope that and cannot be more grateful that they love Jennifer Winget, the person above all the characters I’ve played.

I couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Saraswatichandra was a huge turning point in your career and you are amongst the few actresses to have worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on television. What was it like to step into the shoes of Kumud? How did this experience help you as an actor?

It was like walking into his dream.

I’ve been a huge fan of Mr Bhansali’s work and to be a part of his vision in Saraswatichandra was indeed both an honour and a privilege.

Your Bollywood debut in Phir Se got delayed until it released on Netflix in 2018. Did that postponement disappoint or dishearten you at all? How (if at all) did the film live up to your expectations?

Well, it was disappointing that the film didn’t make a theatrical release because the whole crew put in a lot of hard work and heart into making it.

Having said that, people did watch it on Netflix and it was well received, so no complaints!

Hits and misses – every actor has them does not make the project any less close to heart.

As well as a successful career, you’ve also faced personal setbacks. What positives did you draw from that and how did it help you with your profession?

Don’t we all have our own personal setbacks to overcome? That’s life.

Today, it’s one thing tomorrow, it’s another. The trick is to not take life so seriously.

No man, no relationship, no opportunity is going to help you if you are not being true to who you are in the first place and don’t love and live honestly.

It is hard but tough times don’t last.

Having family and friends help but you have to take your time, grieve, then snap out of it and get up and at it again… Which I did.

You’ll next be seen in AltBalaji’s web-show. How do you feel about your digital debut and what can you tell us about the show/your character?

It’s too soon to talk about this for now.

I can’t reveal too much about the show or the character, but you will know soon enough.

I am super excited as this will be my first digital venture and I couldn’t have asked for a better show.

Stay tuned!

If it wasn’t for acting, what or where do you think your life would’ve been?

Oh, I don’t know… Why think about things that are not in my control?

I would rather use that time and energy to get better at what I do and hone what I have been blessed with further.

Plus, as an actor, I have the liberty to be anything I wish or want to be, that’s why I am an actor.

Finally, what message would you like to convey to your fans who have showered so much love over you?

I am always and forever grateful.

To not only have witnessed my journey as an actor but also as a person and to have stood by me through it all.

My fans have lived my journey with me and I hope and pray that the love and support they give me continues to get stronger every day and then returns to them threefold.

I will work for it and make sure it does.

Undoubtedly, Jennifer Winget is an inspiring individual.

For years, we have only respected and adored her for her work and that is also a testament to the immense love that the fans have bestowed upon her.

This sincerity and dedication are what will drive her career to further successes and triumph.

Here’s wishing Jennifer all the very best and good wishes for the future.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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