‘TV is still regressive,’ says Niki Aneja Walia, as she talks about her comeback and OTT boom

In 1994, when actress Niki Aneja Walia made her debut opposite Anil Kapoor in Mr Azaad, little did she know that she would become a television sensation in the time to come. Niki turned the spotlight on her by portraying Dr Simran Mathur in Astitva... Ek Prem Kahani. The show made her a household name and women across India started relating to her character. Thereafter, Niki went on to do popular shows like Ghar Ek Sapna, Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum, among many others, before she married UK-based entrepreneur Sonny Walia and moved to London where she lives with her twins — Sean and Sabrina.

In 2015, the actress made her comeback by essaying the role of Pankaj Kapur’s wife in the movie Shaandaar, which starred Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor. She followed it up with the television show Dil Sambhal Ja Zara, starring Sanjay Kapoor. Niki forayed into the digital space with the Zee5 web series, Never Kiss Your Best Friend, and Tuesdays and Fridays. Niki will next be seen in Puncch Beat season 2 for AltBalaji. As of now, the actress continues to shoot in London where she lives with her family. However, she says coming to India for work is never a challenge.

“Thanks to social media, the makers got to know that I am available for work. I shot most of my recent shows in London. I like to shoot there as my family is there with me,” says the actress, who has an illustrious career of over three decades with a prominent body of work on television. However, she feels TV has not evolved at all. “It was a golden era of television. I had a lot of fun doing it. But when I came back from a sabbatical, I felt no change. It was, and is still regressive. A handful of TV actors were doing some good roles. So, I feel TV has not progressed,” she opines and shares that after Astitva she was waiting for something new and Laila Raichand of Dil Sambhal Ja Zara made the shot.

“It was opposite of what I had done earlier. In fact, it was difficult to convince myself to do that role. There was enough reason for me to come back to India for the TV show. I didn’t get major lead roles but I got some diverse characters,” says the actress.

While it is a known fact that showbiz is notoriously ageist and actors after a certain age don’t get to play the protagonists, Niki feels makers take the shorter route and don’t want to work on different stories. “Makers don’t want to work on an actor’s appearance. Here, if you fit the character you get the role; there is no question of my abilities. I don’t look at the character. I am extremely satisfied with what I am doing as I am able to maintain a healthy balance between India and London.” She also shares that OTT has more opportunities.

Having worked in some major TV productions, Niki has certainly earned her space in the industry with sheer hard work and talent. She feels the same is missing in newcomers. “They are insecure. The beauty of our time was that we helped each other. This is missing in today’s generation. They focus more on stardom than on the craft. There is a lot of insecurity in young actors,” she concludes.

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