Sarah-Jane Dias: ‘Fear being stagnant’

Says Sarah-Jane Dias as she speaks to NIKITA WADHAWAN about her journey from a VJ to an actress, competition and her new web series

As I enter the room, I am greeted with a warm smile by Sarah-Jane Dias. As I start the interview, I realise that the former Miss India hasn’t forgotten her pageant training as she answers every question in a crisp and diplomatic way. The last time we saw the actress was in India’s first ensemble web series Inside Edge. While her debut on the web might have been over shadowed among the huge start cast, the VJ turned actress says that she is happy to be part of meaningful projects and is particularly excited about her next web series Time Out! with Mardaani fame Tahir Raj Bhasin. “I am very excited about this. I am not worried how it will fare compared to Inside Edge as I am really proud of the work that everyone has done,” says Sarah. Excerpts from the interview:

Compared to Inside Edge, how different is Time Out!?
For one Inside Edge was more of fiction than compared to Time Out! It’s a story of urban couple and about a big incident which happens in their relationship. It’s a real and relatable story and it’s also fun. No matter how long you have been in a relationship with someone, there comes a time when, sometimes, you want to take a break from each other.

Also, here it is just you and Tahir, so there is no pressure of being over shadowed…
It was never about competition, if you are part of a project and you are not present because you want to contribute, then you are doing the wrong thing. I don’t carry the pressure of a project being a success or a failure as the outcome is not in my hand. All I can do is give it my best. Yes, I have a lot of screen presence in Time Out! as compared to Inside Edge as it revolves around two people and not a team of people. The only pressure I am under, is to perform better before.

How do you not let competition get to your head?
I do let it get to my head. Sometimes it drives me nuts and sometimes it makes me do better. But I do a lot of things like meditation and exercise to maintain that sanity. All fields are very competitive, but it is over emphasised in our industry because your shelf life is very short. In the end, it is about doing your best and not about anyone else.

How was it working with Tahir? Was he serious like his characters he has portrayed in film so far?
He is a clown; I loved working with him. We had a lot of fun on the sets. Tahir is extremely present in what he is doing and he is a very intelligent actor as he literally breaks a scene down trying to make it better. When you are working with people who come with a sense of quirkiness then the job becomes easier.

How much of your real-life experiences have you tried to imbibe for this web series?
A lot of it. Everyone has been in a relationship and have their heart broken at some time in their life. The circumstances were different but the emotions were the same.

Do you prefer doing films like Angry Indian Goddesses or do you enjoy doing commercial films like Kya Super Cool Hai Hum?
I am more drawn towards stories that depict reality. In my job, my personal preference is set aside, so it is not that I don’t want to do a commercial movie but things like dates and script should be in place. You can’t wake up and say that you want to do a Sanjay Leela Bansali film and it doesn’t happen, you need to work for it.

Have you given up on television and want to focus only on web and films?
I have never given up on one thing and focused on another, it has always been a natural progression of things. My journey started with TV, then as a Miss India and now web series. I want to move forward with times and not remain stagnant, which is my worst fear.

Do you admire anyone in this industry?
I really admire Deepika (Padukone) and Priyanka (Chopra) as I have seen their craft and they have grown more and more beautiful with each passing year. They have a certain gravitas to their existence and that is very inspiring to me.

It is an end of an era with Channel V shutting down. As a former VJ, how did you react to the news?
Television was not what it used to be, I think that it was a matter of time that these things started to happen. People now watch their music online and now the era of a VJ doesn’t really exist anymore as you don’t need anyone to tell you what is coming up next. It is disheartening and it is sad but I am happy to have been a part of it.

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