EXCLUSIVE: Sanjeeda Sheikh: Faced rejections; Was apprehensive of giving auditions for Netflix’s Kaali Khuhi

In an exclusive chat, we asked Sanjeeda Sheikh about her journey and if she, like many other actors, faced any rejections and if the transition was difficult for her, as she started off on Television.
EXCLUSIVE: Sanjeeda Sheikh: Faced rejections; Was apprehensive of giving auditions for Netflix’s Kaali Khuhi
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Sanjeeda Sheikh has been trying to break the glass ceiling with her work in showbiz. After a successful career on Television, the actress had been focusing on films and web shows in the last few years and has had an interesting journey. She recently had a release on Netflix titled Kaali Khuhi wherein she co-starred alongside Shabana Azmi, Satyadeep Mishra among others. The horror movie highlights the grave issue of female infanticides and has received a mixed reaction from the audience so far. In an exclusive chat, we asked Sanjeeda about her journey and if she, like many other actors, faced any rejections and if the transition was difficult for her, as she started off on Television. We also spoke to Satyadeep about his experience of working on the film and more. Excerpts below. 

The movie seems intense and has several elements of horror to it. But it is much more than that. There are layers to the characters which unfold throughout the journey along with a socially relevant backdrop. Was it challenging? 

Sanjeeda: At this stage of my career, I would rather do something challenging as an actor, because I have done so much TV in my career, I wasn't able to satisfy the creative side in me. So, I am glad I took this up and was very happy with the way it has turned out. 

Satyadeep: I think all starts with the script. From the very first time I read the script, I had a very clear sense of what he wanted from the movie and I was hooked on to it. There is something magical about the script with moments that are scary. 

The movie according to me also is a commentary on the social issues we face, especially female infanticides leading to poor women to men ratio in our country. Do you also see it like that? 

Satyadeep: It is set in Punjab which has had a history of female infanticide, the sex ratio in these states have always been poor, and given that the director has spent her youth in rural Punjab, even if this is not something which has happened to her, these are stories that she has grown up with. And yes, she is kind of visiting this as a child getting into a story and undoing the family curse, for her as well, through the film, she is working that out of her system. it is very relevant and it still exists. You can be very official about it say that this is wrong and you must not do it or you could do it and bring to the public's notice and tell a story which gets to them in a more permanent way. That is what Kaali Kuhi is.

Sanjeeda: There is a great message to it. Whenever you work on a project, which ultimately also teaches and highlights an issue of grave importance, what better than that? Female infanticides are common in our country and it is our way to bring this in the foray and hope people learn from it. 

To Sanjeeda, however cliched it sounds, we know making a transition from Television is not easy. Do you see that changing today? 

I will be honest, when they actually called me for the audition of Kaali Kudi, I refused it initially. I told them I belong from TV, you will call me for auditions and like me but eventually, you will go ahead with someone else. I did not want to disappoint myself again. I had been disappointed before with a couple of my auditions where I got selected and then rejected. I said no, hence. Also, Netflix as a medium is so big, there was no way I believed they would cast me. I did have my apprehensions about doing a test also for them because of my experiences but they convinced me. I am glad I did. But you are right, it was difficult a couple of years back for a TV actor to make a mark in films and do substantial roles. But, thankfully I would like to thank OTT platforms which have given opportunities to actors irrespective of the medium they come from. I believe TV has such great talent and work hard. 

To Satyadeep: You have dabbled with all mediums, be it TV, films, or web. A handful of actors are able to do this. Did it happen organically for you? 

It happened organically for me. Numbers don't affect people unless you are a big star. It is true that today they look at your craft and skills. Then, it is about you and your ego and If you are comfortable with a medium or the other. Over the last 3-4 years, with the digital boom, there are so many actors and technicians who worried about their next job, that has been taken care of to some extent. There is so much good work happening today, not to say that there is no bad work. There is a lot of unwatchable work happening too. I am happy to work regardless of the medium. 

I remember 5-6 years back, I was part of Bombay Velvet, and there was so much excited about the film and then it got tanked so badly. Unfortunately, I was amongst those who got good reviews for the film but nobody wanted to watch the film. People did not see the film. Today, with mediums like OTT platforms the film sits there for a while, because it is no more a Friday game and the word of mouth is so good that people will eventually watch it if they hear about it. 

To Sanjeeda, you mentioned rejections. How did you deal with it then? 

I think what phases I had was that initially yes, I felt bad. I won’t say that I took it with a pinch of salt and I was okay with that. No, it wasn’t like that but yes, this motivated me to work harder. You know your caliber, I know that I am very strong-headed and if I decide to do something, I want to see it happening. I obviously chose the right part to do it in a certain way and kept giving my audition with a certain kind of hope. I think rejection has to be dealt with a certain way, with age and maturity, you start dealing with things differently. Say 7 years back, I wouldn’t have dealt with rejections the way I deal with it right now.

ALSO READ: Shabana Azmi speaks about patriarchy; Questions why boys should not cry

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Anonymous 3 months ago

Sanjeeda Shaikh is stunning and a lovely actress as well. I remember seeing episodes of Ek Hasina Thi on TV! Happy for her that she's getting her due and hope to see her in more films cuz she deserves it!