Television actress Aalika Shaikh, who rose to fame from Star Plus show 'Mann Kee Awaaz Pratigya', is seen as Kesar in the second installment of the popular drama series.
She has been a part of the industry for almost a decade now and has starred in shows like 'Tumhari Pakhi', 'Tum Hi Ho Banhu Sakha Tumhi', 'Pardes Me Hai Mera Dil' and more.
While Aalika has finally gained fame and appreciation for her work, her journey has proven to be an uphill battle.
Aalika Shaikh had to choose between her acting career and her conservative Muslim family.
The actress, who decided to go against her family's wishes and pursue a career in showbiz, shares, "I changed my name because of my family, I never had any mental or financial support from them."
"I changed my name because I come from a Muslim family and in my family girls get married at a very early age. I neither wanted to choose that path nor did I want them to be answerable to people who they thought they would be accountable to, so I changed my name," she adds.
The actress made her debut with a play on Doordarshan.
She reveals that she first started her career as a real estate investor. However, Aalika, at a friend's behest, decided to try her luck in acting and gave an audition for 'Air Hostess'. She was selected for the role of Pia and received a lot of praise for her enthralling performance.
Talking about how difficult it was to follow her dreams, Shaikh says, "It was challenging for me at first because I didn't have a godfather in the sector and didn't know anyone who worked in it. It was challenging to carve out that space, get my name out there and have people recognise my work, but once you get into the swing of things, people come out in droves to support you as friends and it becomes a bit easier emotionally and mentally to fight harder and live your dreams."
Even amidst the personal turmoil, Aalika says that she never felt like giving up on her career.
"When I had detached from my family I tried to focus on work as much as possible, tried to discover new projects and my desire to be successful and recognized kept me going," she says.
Shaikh reveals that her family eventually reached out to her and they decided to sink their difference.
"My family had contacted And I have accepted them and so have they. All this while, I have been supporting (financially) them," reveals Aalika.
Asked if all of this has affected her faith in Islam, Aalika states, "I was born into a Muslim household and am a practising Muslim who offers namaz on a regular basis, yet I am a very liberal person who respects other religions. That isn't to say I don't respect or believe in other religions... I do, and more than that I believe in and follow the religion of humanity."
Aalika, who is in a live-in relationship with Rohin Robert and often shares loved up pictures with her beau, seems unperturbed by trolls.
The actress says, "I wouldn't say much about the trolls or assaults because everyone has their own life choices and rules. So, I choose to stay grounded and I am pretty much proud of the choices I've made in life relating to work and profession."
When asked if she has an advice for aspiring actresses who are afraid of pursuing a career in acting, Aalika says, "I won't be able to send a message to young girls who are afraid to pursue their dreams because of their family or religion as everyone has different circumstances in life that forces them to make decisions and take steps."
"I just have one piece of advice: If you truly want to achieve something from the heart, don't give up," she concludes.