Since her first film Prema Kosam in 1999, Flora Saini has acted in over 50 films in Kannada, Tamil and Hindi languages, innumberable successful web-series and short films. She has co-starred with some of the noted actors including Rajinikanth, V. Ravichandran, Sudeep, Karthik, Jagapati Babu, Rajasekhar, Shivarajkumar, Vijaykanth, Prabhu to name a few.
Born in Chandigarh to an army officer, Flora started her career with modeling career and participated at the Miss Kolkata beauty pageant contest. She is one such actress who has never hesitated in experimenting with her work, rather she has excelled the art of gracefully accepting the roles, which an actress would not consider and turning them a success as if they were written keeping her in mind. After all, not all achieve the art of taking risk and gracefully succeeding in it!
Apeksha News Network had a conversation with the talented actress who is an inspiration to many. Check out the excerpts of the conversation where Flora Saini talks about achieving success, overcoming hurdles and good things about ‘Gandi Baat’!
Tell me something about first success ‘Gandi Baat’.
In one word, I would say ‘life changing’. Whenever I start talking about this I tend to cry. Gandi Baat is in some way a blessing. I wished for this success for so long. You know, I believe this is the beauty of this industry that one ‘Friday’ can either make or break your career. I remember, I missed being a part of the Gandi Baat Season 1 by an inch; but thank God Sachin (Mohite) sir called me for Season 2 as they take new girls every season.
Now, everywhere I go, people recognise me. In fact, ‘Gandi Baat’ is used as a reference for new or upcoming content. I wished for this kind of recognition!
Don’t you think Gandi Baat was a risk for you?
Well, honestly at that time I was just happy getting work. Also, I think that it is the best time for any actor when you have no image, and you can literally experiment with anything and everything. My mother actually asked me to re-consider my decision. Not many people know but my mother accompanied me to the sets during a lot of ‘presumably bold’ scenes. Gandi Baat does not show everything. It is not vulgar.
The best part was that when I had scenes with another girl, not even for once I felt uncomfortable. This goes the same for the scenes with the boys. Our director, Sachin sir used to take so much care of the actors; he would stand there with a towel until we are covered properly after a scene. I remember a particular anthem that used to go around the sets ‘They are women, handle them with care’. I have never heard anything like this anywhere before this. It was incredible! Sachin sir really understands the craft of Cinema and hence I never felt that I was taking a risk by choosing to do this series.
In ‘Gandi Baat’ you played lesbian and your latest short film, ‘Chaddi’ deals with gay relationships. Do you support the LGBTQ community?
I believe love is a beautiful emotion. Anyone would be lucky to find true love or a soul mate, someone who can understand you. I strongly believe that soul knows no gender when it comes to loving someone. So, whether you are in love with the opposite sex, same sex, or you pets; it really doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.
Tell us something about your another success ‘Stree’. Did you fear that your face in the film or your look would prove as a disadvantage?
I will tell you, the story of me being cast in this film had it’s own ups and downs. At first, I wasn’t very ecstatic about a 1 minute role that they were considering me for. Anyways after a few calls with the casting director, I went to audition and there I at once fell in love with the story of this film and I made up my mind that I want to be a part of this movie. After the movie released, I loved the positive attention I was getting. People were curious about my character. None of us thought that the movie would be such a hit!
You had one of the worst phases of your life when you had to face domestic violence. However, you bounced back in the most wonderful way. Tell me something about the journey.
I would say to everyone, especially the younger girls in love to not accept any kind of abusive behaviour from their partners. Sometimes, we let go off such inappropriate behaviour just because we are in love but it is very important to love and respect oneself. When I was with my ex, I too would accept words like ‘Bitch’ and would not take it seriously. But I don’t think these kind of words are ‘cool’ at all even when said casually. I say this to my friends too when they call me by those names for fun.
People ask me why it took me one year to get out of such abusive relationship and I really don’t have an answer for this because I would forgive him every time until my mother explained to me that ‘How can you hit someone you love. He doesn’t love you’. This hit me hard and got me thinking. Maybe, I needed to experience this kind of love to value the real one whenever it comes. I believe in God, so I think however you experience you go through: good or bad – It Is for your own betterment.
I would also like to tell readers of this interview here that never believe anyone who threatens your career. Just keep working hard! I really admire and look upto actors like Neena Gupta, Pankaj Tripathi, Irfan Khan and Vidya Balan.
Do you think ‘METOO’ movement was a success?
Yes, these issues have been brushed down under the carpet for so long. Atleast, people are willing to listen to the girls who are coming out with their stories on this #METOO movement. It is not so easy for the one who have faced it to talk about it. It is like going through it all over again. There were a group of people pointing out to them that they should go the legal way and not make noise on social media, but, I am here to say that my case has been registered for the past 12-13 years. It is not yet opened. So, I don’t see much happening in the legal way too.
But the best part is that people who didn’t understand the meaning of consent and non-consent are beginning to see the difference and fear before saying or doing anything inappropriate. Although this movement has paved way for many other girls who wants to join the film industry, to make this a safer place for them.
Tell us how you bounced back so impressively. What made you go on even when you were not getting enough work.
Well, I am a human too! So, of course I had my cycles of depression, if’s and but’s, and a lot of overthinking but what kept me going was my mother. She has been a huge support.
It has happened a couple of times when I was rejected for a role being told that I carry with myself an ‘extra baggage’. All of these things makes you doubt yourself. Anyways, I had my mother beside me always but my heart goes out to the women who are alone in the city, away from their families and struggling alone.
What is your suggestion for all the women who have suffered similar experience and want to bounce back?
I would say never to give up and most importantly not to give up financial independence even after you are married. So never give up working as life could be so unpredictable. Also, never think ‘I’m good for nothing’. Miracles do happen when you least expect it. Speak up for yourself. Focus on yourself.
You’re experimenting with your roles; roles which have been rejected by other actors. What’s your take on that?
Frankly speaking, I think I am not at a stage at my career where roles are specifically written for me. So, whenever I get to know that I am getting a chance to step in such actor’s shoes, I feel privileged. I always think of making the role completing mine.
Do you believe in celebrating Women’s Day?
Yes, I do. We women are so busy in our everyday lives that it is good to be reminded to celebrate ourselves and what we stand for!
Tell us something about your upcoming projects.
Well, there are projects like Inside Edge Season 3, City of Dreams Season 2, a film called ‘Bahut Hua Samman’, and another unnamed project.
Apeksha News Network congratulates Flora Saini for her being an epitome of inspiration to many women and wishes her good luck for her future endeavours!