Ruhi Singh: A blonde once replaced me because it was felt she’d exude more sex-appeal- Exclusive Interview


Ruhi Singh’s latest web show, MX Players‘Runaway Lugaai’, went online yesterday. The actress is in a happy space. ETimes caught up with Ms Singh for an exclusive chat.

Excerpts:

Let’s first tell the readers and viewers that you are not the Ruhi Singh who crashed her car into 7 vehicles in April 2019…

OMG! Yes guys, I am not that person.

How did you deal with that period?

Shakespeare said ‘What’s in a name?’ but I think there’s a lot in a name. When this incident happened, it did a lot of damage to my reputation. The lackadaisical attitude by the media in reporting was appalling. Why was it not checked that it was not the Miss India Peace and Humanity 2014 and the ‘Calendar Girls’ actress who was at the steering wheel?

I remember the day in question right from when it started. It was the most horrific days of my life. My Dad called to ask if I am okay. He asked me to switch on my TV set and I was shocked that my name was being mentioned. Thank God there was a video somewhere which later clarified who’s who.

I am thankful that I had the Times Agency and Miss India organisation backing me and they clarified it well and soon enough on the front page of Times.

There was a stalker in your life who refused to go away. Did you eventually file a police complaint against him?

Yes, I did. It was a thing that had got really scary. It is sad that girls have to go through such situations.

And, did it end?

It ended, but sometimes I still get a text from some international numbers saying ‘Hi there!’. Sheer audacity, what else!

How was the experience of working in ‘Calendar Girls’?

It was great. It was Madhur Bhandarkar – a National Award winner. Ever since I had seen ‘Fashion’, It was my dream to work with him.

‘Ishq Forever’?

It was okay. It was a good experience. I learnt a lot on the sets. Would I sign something like that today? Probably no. Earlier, I didn’t have people guiding me on what choices to make as an actor. But now, I am more aware of what to do and what not to.

After that, we saw you in South films…

A lot of people at that point asked me to explore opportunities in the South industry. I had a pretty good time.

And now you seem to be enjoying the OTT space…

I won’t compare the two mediums. For me, whether it’s movies or web shows, it’s just about exhibiting my acting skills. But yes, I must say that OTT has brought in a lot more work; it has opened doors where there were probably only walls and no windows.

Do you have an inclination to go back to the movies?

I am getting film offers and films will always be my first love.

‘Runaway Lugaai’ is your second experience with MX player after ‘Chakravyuh’…

It has been absolutely phenomenal. MX player remains special to me. They, being from the Times Group, are the best in publicity campaigns and highlight their shows very well.

Go on…

Men get a variety of roles but women tend to get typecast. The reason why I didn’t do too much work in the South is because I was always told to play the other woman. A woman can be a home-maker and a careeer woman but yet wear what she wants. Think of it the other way round, a lot of people may have thought that I won’t be able to carry off the role in ‘Runaway Lugaai’.

What you are hinting is that you were perceived who’s just an ultra-glamorous girl…

Many girls face this, especially if they’ve been a model before. Perceptions develop. Like, if I speak largely in English, people around me will ask ‘Aapko Hindi aati hai?’. Arre, of course aati hai, I am from Jaipur. But now people are recognising my versatility. Surely, I don’t want to be doing similar roles lifelong, that’s not fun. My job is to play different characters from various cultures.

Has there been a role where for which you were almost finalised and the producer/director replaced you at the last minute just because he thought you’re too glamorous for it?

I don’t know about the ‘too glamorous’ part of it but yes I was replaced in a film by a beautiful blonde because they thought that they wanted a foreigner. It was a very glamorous role. There was no acting involved. But yet, it was a great opportunity as it had a top director. The producer believed in me but the person taking the final call said ‘let’s get a foreigner because we need sex-appeal’. I doubted myself. Being replaced by someone for the colour of my skin hurt me.

You are telling me that Bollywood perceives more sex-appeal in actors who are fair-complexioned…

Yeah, and we have a long way to go to change ourselves in this aspect. Actually, this happens throughout the world. Racism has been a problem forever. It’s high time that we thought progressively.

Will you endorse a fairness cream if the brand is ready to pay you a bomb price?

I won’t endore a fairness cream. I don’t agree to the idea of promoting a skin color. I am okay with something that promotes clear skin or glowing skin, but certainly not with anything that promises to impart fairness.

Tell me your toughest scene in ‘Runaway Lugaai’…

It was altogether a different dialect for me. My scenes with Sanjay Mishra were a big source of learning. He is a school of acting. Frankly, I can’t single out any scene as tough per se in ‘Runaway Lugaai’.

How would you describe what the Femina Miss India contest has given you?

It changed my life. It gives you the exposure and learning of a lifetime. You understand how to voice your opinions. It made me more confident in life.

Do you call up filmmakers for work? Many actors do that…

I have called those people who’ve told me that I am a good actor. The right opportunity hasn’t come yet through them. Sometimes they want an absolutely fresh face, sometimes they want an established actor. It’s not easy. There are many people who matter in a project. But having said that, I am still grateful that I have had three back-to-back releases in the last 5 months. And, all this is due to my hard work.



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