Mona Singh opens up about how women characters on screen are changing into more realistic versions

After her iconic television debut in 2003 with ‘Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin’ to a varied character sketch in hit shows like ‘Kavach...Kaali Shaktiyon Se’, ‘Pyaar Ko Ho Jaane Do’ and ‘Kya Huaa Tera Vaada’, Mona Singh’s repertoire has moved from strength to strength with reality television and films. The actor is now back with a web series, the Zee5 original, ‘Black Widows’. Excerpts from the interview:

Outspoken, independent women are often turned into a negative character. As an actor how do you navigate such stereotypes?

That is exactly where the writing and characterisation comes into place. If the characters are written organically, then there is no question about being typecast. In our show ‘Black Widows’, most of the people are rooting for the three women instead of wanting them to be punished or sent behind bars. So that is a huge progress we see in viewership. We were careful about the way we say our dialogues and the way we deal with the situations. It was so nuanced by the director that things just fell into place.

Right from the time you played that iconic role in ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin’ till now, how has the scene changed for women?

When you talk about TV, women have always ruled the narrative. There is always a woman at the centre of the plot, and I am so glad that it has been that way. The same is happening with OTT now. It feels great that women are being given a chance to show their talent. Your talent is appreciated and you are allowed to be yourself!

What is that one big change you notice in the portrayal of women characters in recent years?

Everything cannot be over the top or larger than life. OTT is popular because it will show you normal things. You cannot be decked up in make-up and sport designer wear at all times. That is not how a regular person would go about his/her life. You have to be someone the audience can relate to, which is exactly what is happening with OTT. The no make-up look is in! We are wearing house clothes on set. Women are not objectified and asked to show their bodies and wear sexy clothes. That, in fact, is just a man’s idea of a woman, not the way women are in reality. And I’m glad that is changing!

Which is your favourite revenge classic?

‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ is definitely something that I loved watching back in time and even now. I also liked ‘Gupt’ where Kajol was the murderer. Even Rani Mukerji in ‘Mardaani’ is so good; ‘Hitchki’ is another favourite because it shows women in different lights. All of them have very nuanced characterisation. They don’t make a sweet potato out of you. It is revelation in new light!

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