Hello, folks! In this episode of #BlabWithSandy, we have the mesmerizing and talented actress Ulka Gupta with us! Ulka won heaps of praises as a child artist for her portrayal in Zee TV soap Jhansi Ki Rani and she followed it up with some scintillating performances on TV as well as cinema. Her work in films such as Simmba, Rudhramadevi and others won her many accolades. Her penchant for art and cinema has no bounds as she has already featured in more than four Indian language movies. Let’s wait no further and dive into the exciting blab I had with her:
Sandy: Hey, Ulka! Hope you are doing as good as your acting.
Ulka: Hahaha! Yes, I am doing well, Sandy!
Sandy: Could you let us know a little but about your early background?
Ulka: I was born in Mumbai, and I am a girl who belongs from Bihar. My dad is a theatre actor himself and he has worked in serials as well as films. I got inspired by my dad as I used to visit the shoots with him, and I felt like acting was in my blood. I always felt passionate about films and used to convey my interest towards films to my dad.
I am the eldest of the three siblings at home and I believe, I was and am a born actress. My dad was willing to help me churn out a path in the movies. Since my childhood, I have been inclined towards acting and I am happy that my career is panning out in the way I’d aspired for!
Sandy: That’s brilliant to hear, Ulka. You started your acting career at a very young age. When and how did it get a kickstart in first place?
Ulka:I started off as a dancer and I took part in shows. I was part of the TV serial named ‘Saath Phere’ when I was just 8 years old. As my dad was into theatre and acting, he got to tell me about the auditions that were happening for ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ and he encouraged me to give it a try!
Casting was happening allover India and I wanted to give it a chance. I was always a tom-boyish kind of a girl during schooling and that helped me learn gymnastics and Kung Fu. I gave my audition, and the team loved my confidence. My command over Hindi and Sanskrit too played a major part in me getting that role.
Sandy: Your got instant recognition during ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’. It will be great if you could share your working experience for that serial.
Ulka: I underwent rigorous horse training classes and sword fighting for about 20 days. I am a quick learner; thus, they loved the fact that I was able to adapt to it within a limited period. I was initially signed for a month which was a 10-episode contract. When the first episode of mine got aired, the response was huge, and it created a history of sorts for the small screen.
The makers were delighted with the outcome and that’s when the production house extended my contract for another 20 episodes. The show continued to receive marvelous response from all corners and the audience fell in love with my work. That’s how my role got extended and it continued to be aired for a longer period.
Sandy: You made your Tollywood debut with ‘Andhra Pori’ opposite Aakash Puri. It was an age that can’t be considered as a child artist nor a full-fledged heroine. And the film didn’t do as per expectations. Your take on it?
Ulka: Absolutely, Sandy! I was around 17 when I did that film, and I didn’t really look at it as my launch pad. I and Aakash were teenagers when we did that film, and the movie was all about teenage love. I am glad that a North girl like me got to play a role of a Telugu girl at that age. The preparation I did for that role is something that I would still cherish.
Yes, the film could not meet the expectations, but I took that film as an acting class rather than my launch pad. That’s the reason I am proud to have been a part of that film. It made me realize my potential as an artist back then and it also made me realize what better I can do in the future.
Sandy: You followed it up with Gunasekhar’s ‘Rudhramadevi’, wherein you played the younger version of Anushka Shetty. That film did boost your career though it was a small role.
Ulka: Indeed! That was the time wherein I was trying to move out of my ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ image. Gunasekhar sir saw my work in that serial and felt I was apt to be playing the role of the younger Rudhramadevi, which was played by Anushka Shetty.
I remember the days when I was called by Gunasekhar sir. I used to love those dress trial days during the shoot. The film was very close to my heart as I always wanted to play tom-boyish roles in films and that character was exactly like that! It is a true story of a legend who was loved as a goddess and was termed as the woman warrior. I am proud to have ‘Rudhramadevi’ in my filmography and I am grateful to Gunasekhar sir for giving me the opportunity to work in the film.
Sandy: ‘Simmba’ had you play a role that was short but quite important to the film. A few anecdotes on it.
Ulka: This is a very interesting story. I wasn’t very keen to play the role, but the film had my crush, Ranveer Singh in it! The film was being directed by one of my favorite directors’, Rohit Shetty! Rohit wanted to cast me in that role, and I could not say no.
I had seen its original in Telugu, ‘Temper’ along with Puri sir during my shooting time with his son, Aakash Puri and I had loved the film. ‘Simmba’ being the remake of it got me excited and it was a big film. I had a limited screentime but as you mentioned, it was an important role and that’s why I agreed to it. I am happy that I got to share screentime with Ranveer and I got to work with Rohit sir.
Sandy: You also debuted in Bengali and Marathi films. I guess, you should be named as a Pan-Indian star already, hahaha! How are you planning to churn your career ahead, Ulka?
Ulka: Lol! That’s a nice way to look at it, Sandy. I am open to doing everything, and every form of cinema or TV soaps. I always look out for good subjects, and I have no language barrier. Currently, I can speak seven languages and I am keen to learn the other languages.
I, being already famous for playing strong characters right since my early days, I am game for taking more responsibility in terms of different cinema pertaining to different languages. I have not set any barriers for myself with regards to roles and genres and maybe that’s why I am able to work in different languages, playing different roles in different genres.
Quick Shot Round:
- Biggest fear:Losing out on time
- Your biggest regret:Not being able to learn many more things! I am stuck at seven languages for now. I also want to learn various other dancing styles
- If you’d to barter your life for a day, with whom it would be and why? I am happy with what I am doing but to answer it, I would say, Anushka Shetty or Priyanka Chopra
- Good and Bad about the film industry: I don’t see any bad thing but the good is that it is evolving every day and it has no structure as such
- Close friends in the industry: I have a lot of friends within my family and close circles. I believe in genuine people
- Favorite genre of cinema: It must be comedy and I also enjoy thrillers
- Directors you’d like to work with: It’s a long list but to name a few – Anand L Rai, Rohit Shetty once again, Karan Johar, Sekhar Kammula, Gunasekhar sir again, Gautam Vasudev Menon, and Mani Ratnam
- Favorite spot in Hyderabad: I mostly am situated at Jubilee Hills, so yes, Jubilee Hills!
- Dream role: Would love to perform action and dance
- A film that you’d watched recently and felt like being a part of it: Atrangi Re! I am a Bihari girl, and I would have loved to play that role
Sandy: You have worked in Bollywood as well as Tollywood. What’s the biggest difference that you find between the two?
Ulka: Both the industries are different according to me. Tollywood has ardent fan following for all its stars and that’s something amazing. Bollywood is pretty liberating and it has varied subjects that are accepted by the audience.
Sandy: What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Ulka: I am having Nagesh Kukunoor’s project that I am working on currently. I cannot divulge more details yet, but you would see me in a Vishwak Sen’s film that is upcoming. I have a few projects in Hindi too! I am doing a web series as well as a serial. As I said, I do not have boundaries set, so it makes me free to opt for roles in any of the mediums. I love entertaining people, so I am also coming up with a music album soon!
Editor’s note: It was a pleasure in getting to bring out Ulka Gupta’s story! She started off her career with a bang and I am sure she is here to stay for a long, long time! She was just like a breath of fresh air whilst the interview. Wishing Ulka, a blockbuster career ahead, filled with whistles and claps! 🙂
Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)
Follow Ulka @ulkagupta
Follow Sandy @blabwithsandy