First of Many: Kritika Kamra revisits Yahaan Ke Hum Sikander

This week's First of Many features Kritika Kamra. In the 84th edition of our series, the actor talks about her first acting project, TV show Yahaan Ke Hum Sikander (2007).

Actor Kritika Kamra has never stuck to the fixed formula of daily soaps. Trying different genres and content in her projects, Kritika has mostly done finite shows, as against the general pattern of Indian television industry, and yet managed to give us some memorable performances.

Kritika’s Arohi Sharma in Kitani Mohabbat Hai opposite Karan Kundrra might be her most loved role till date, but she’s also impressive in other shows. Be it a girl who falls in love with an older man in Kuch Toh Log Kahenge, or playing a TV journalist alongside Rajeev Khandelwal in Reporters, or for that matter, playing the new-age Chandrakanta in the iconic show’s remake, Kritika has been open to experimenting. The actor was last seen in Amazon Prime Video’s Tandav.

For Kritika, it all started early in life when she was just out of school and acting came to her without planning. Here’s what she shared about bagging her first acting project and how it all went by, ever since.

What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?

My first project was Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar on Zee Next. It was a college drama, about a bunch of friends.

I was in NIFT Delhi, in my first year, just a few months into college. It was a Monday afternoon and I was bunking my class and sitting outside. A group came to us and said they were auditioning college students for a show and if we would like to audition. I was sitting with a friend who was very keen. She was a part of the street play group and very active in all that. I just went with her to give her company and also because I didn’t want to attend the class. I had no idea what an audition meant. I thought it’s like an interview, where they would ask me to do some skit. But, there I found proper light, camera set-up.

That audition was for Dill Mill Gayye, which was Sanjivani season 2 for the same production house. I auditioned for that and they said I looked very young. They wanted post graduation students and I was just out of school. They said they had another script and wanted me to try that. I remember I was wearing this oversized jacket and somehow it gave them the impression that I am tomboyish, which I’m absolutely not. But they gave me this stereotypical tomboy character to play named Arshiya. I did that audition and forgot about it. Months later, I got a call and they said they would like me to do a look test for this other show, discuss contract and stuff, and if things fall in place, I need to move to Mumbai. I think I was on some trip, and I said “yes why not!” I called my parents and told them. My mom accompanied me and we came for the look test. I met everybody at Cinevista and got finalised. I told my HoD and everybody at college that I’m taking a 6-month break. I’ll come back and repeat my semester and finish my course, which never happened!

What do you remember of your first day on set?

The first day of shoot was at Sophia College, and the scene had everybody in it. I watched the shoot the whole day and was a wreck when my scene was about to happen. I kept practicing my line the whole day but my scene didn’t happen. So, I went back without shooting. That was how my first day went. That taught me the valuable lesson of patience in this industry (laughs).

It happened on the second day. I couldn’t hit the mark the first few times as I had no idea how to do it without looking down. I didn’t know what “light lo” means. I had many issues but because I was the youngest one on the set, I was really spoilt. All these guys were very sweet to me and took care of me – the director, DoP, my cast members. They would give me time.

Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

I took a few takes and managed to do my first scene on the second day. Once I went in front of the camera, I was fine. That’s what gave me confidence that I can do this. I somehow thought it would be scary, but I sailed through. Luckily, I was not camera conscious.

In general, I was very fascinated with this whole process of filmmaking, how a jimmy-jib is moving, lighting process, camera focus, everything, and not just what’s happening in front of camera. I was like a kid in the candy store, going berserk on a set. Everything was so interesting to me. So, I just used to sit next to the monitor, behind the director. That was my little corner which I found on the very first day.

How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?

The show had Ravi Dubey, Toral Rasputra, and a lot of us. Rituraj Singh and Sujata Sehgal were playing elders, and Payal Nair played my mother. Ravi and I became great friends on that show. He has literally shown me Mumbai. There were times I arrived to set with him, went back with him, as I said I was this new person in Mumbai and he really took care of me in that sense. Our director was also really kind. And a bunch of us became good friends. For me, it was a very warm welcome to the city. There were great vibes on the set, no crazy competition.

If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?

I would do everything different about Arshiya. It’s cringe-worthy today. I hate watching myself onscreen generally, because if I do, I always think why I did this, I could’ve done that, this is so bad… I’ve never enjoyed watching myself. I’ll do that only on monitor to correct things and learn about my mistakes. I hope there’s nothing of Arshiya on internet too because I could’ve done everything so much better.

One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?

My father is a movie buff, so the Bollywood-ness comes from him in my family. We grow up like any other Indian kid, influenced by Bollywood. Even our fashion, crushes and love stories happen with Bollywood music in the background. I was also like that. Very early on, I used to dance on this song “Yeh Galiyan Yeh Chaubara”. I have no idea why they made me dance on this depressing song. It is such a sad song for a 3-4 years old. And my first and forever love was Shah Rukh Khan.

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