Jayna Tida, a British-Indian actress who enthralled all as Ayesha Merchant in the Australian musical ‘The Merchants of Bollywood’ has migrated to the role of a queen in Zee TV’s ‘Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani’.
What made you choose the Indian television industry as your debut platform?
I think it chose me, to be honest. After starring in a West-end musical and doing many commercials, television and movies was a medium I wanted to explore. The role of Rani Sulakshana was intriguing and television seemed the best medium to portray it. I also feel television has a much wider audience.
With your background in British theatre, how difficult was it for you to cope with timings in the industry here?
I didn’t notice much difference except that, previously it was live audience and now it was the camera, where you can obviously emote with your face more. Luckily, the West-end musical I starred in was a traditional Indian story, hence even though the dialogues were in English, the story and emotions were rooted in India. Also, I am an Indian so I can completely relate to the acting in Indian movies. I guess the only challenge was the language as it’s not my first language so I'm always conscious of my diction, especially in the role of a queen.
How did you bag the role in ‘Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani’?
I was approached by Sphere Origins to test for the role. I liked the idea of playing an Indian princess and queen and also the concept of a periodic drama set with the backdrop of a royal family in the 1940's. I didn't think I would get it, but just a few days before I headed back to London, I was offered the role of Rajkumari/Rani Sulakshana.
This is your debut show and there are versatile actors around. Are you nervous?
Yes, of course I am. But I'm also grateful to be sharing screen space with these actors. And I'm hoping to learn a lot from them. But I’m focussing on enjoying the journey.
What homework did you do to become Rani Sulakshana?
Sulakshana is born a Rajkumari and marries Rana Indravadan and becomes a rani. I knew I required an obvious transformation from body language to the way she carried herself. I studied the queens of that era – their photographs and interviews. One lady I felt drawn to was Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur.
Did you learn horse riding or sword fighting for the show?
Not yet. However, I have learnt horse riding in the past for a project. I am hoping they will show that exciting side of Rani Sulakshana soon.
How similar are Sulakshana and Jayna?
I guess what we share in common is our belief in fairytales. Rani Sulakshana is an introvert but at the same time has a wild streak and so do I. Rani studied in a London University as did I.
Is Rani Sulakshana going to come back from the dead?
What they narrated is so far is very interesting and they have done something which people won’t imagine.
What more is in store for fans?
I’m really glad that people have liked Sulakshana and Ranaji together in their past. However the chemistry on her return changes but there’s an interesting twist to the story and we’re hoping the audience will be glued to their screens.