Television actor Asha Negi, who started her career with a small role in the show Sapnon Se Bhare Naina, came to Mumbai with dreams of becoming a Bollywood star. However, she found recognition on the small screen, getting her breakthrough with Pavitra Rishta in 2011.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Asha says that her ‘real struggle’ came after the success of Pavitra Rishta. “When I had come to Mumbai to be an actor, I would say I was very overconfident, although at that time, I felt I was confident. I did not have any acting experience as such, but I thought I would only do films or ads, I would not do television. When I started struggling and going for auditions, I realised that it’s not that easy. Even if I am getting a cameo in a television show, I should do it because that is how it is. There is no godfather who will get me a huge Bollywood film,” she says.
Calling herself ‘lucky enough to get work’, Asha says, “I started with a cameo and then I got my big break, which was Pavitra Rishta. Post that, I did a couple of reality shows and then it was a struggle for me, because I was not getting anything which I had expected,” she said, adding that she expected to be inundated with great offers but that did not happen.
Now, Asha has ‘made (her) way back’ in the fiction space. She will be seen next in the Zee5 series Abhay 2 as a journalist. The show will be out on August 14. “This is the most excited I am for a character so far because it is very different from the projects I have done before and the characters I have played. People who have watched me and watched my work know that I have been this girl-next-door, mostly dressed in Indian wear, either a bahu or a good daughter. This is for the first time that I am doing something which has layers and a lot to perform. It is dark and edgy,” she says.
Shooting for Abhay 2 was a ‘pretty chilled out’ experience for Asha, as director Ken Ghosh is a close friend and co-star Kunal Kemmu was ‘sweet’. However, she did have a nervous moment as well. “I remember telling everyone during Baarish interviews that I was very nervous about my bold scene. This is the second time I am going to do that and again, I am really nervous about it,” she says.
Before her second innings with Baarish and Abhay 2, Asha went through a slump when two back-to-back shows — Ek Mutthi Aasmaan and Kuch Toh Hai Tere Mere Darmiyaan — went off air not long after she came on board. In retrospect, she feels that replacing the leads in these shows was a ‘mistake’.
Talking about this phase of her career, Asha says, “It was very difficult and when I was talking about the real struggle, this is what I meant. In my head, I was this television star, who will probably get more projects very easily. I thought I would have to decide which one is the best among them. I was getting options but I was not getting projects which I had expected to get post Pavitra Rishta. I had to make a couple of compromises when it came to picking a project. I did that and now I feel that it was a mistake.”
“I picked projects which were already ongoing shows and I had to replace people in them. I feel that maybe I could have avoided that. But it’s okay, I have learned through those mistakes and it’s completely fine. I don’t regret it. Those two shows didn’t work, and that was a very low phase. It really impacted my mental health and I thought that maybe it is over for me and maybe this is it. This is when people vanish from their acting career and you forget about them. But now, I am glad that I took that time out to improve my skills and work on my art. I took a couple of workshops because I was not really doing anything at that time. I worked on myself as a person and a lot of introspection happened. I am glad that time taught me so much,” she adds.
Asha said that dealing with mental health issues becomes ‘very hard’ under the glare of the spotlight that is constantly on celebrities. “When we open up like this talking about mental health, there will be people who would be supportive and there will be people who will be judging us that ‘Oh, they are doing it for sympathy.’ Or ‘Just because everybody is talking about mental health, they are also talking now.’ People will end up judging, no matter what. It is difficult, being a celebrity and handling your mental health at the same time,” she says.
One of the other pitfalls of being a celebrity is trolling. Asha used to be very affected by the negativity, although she has now learnt to ignore it and move on. “Now it doesn’t really take a toll but initially it used to. They (trolls) really know what pinches you. When I was jobless and did not have good work, they would pick that up and come up with such hateful comments. They would use words like ‘jobless’ and it would really affect me. It was really hard but with time, I think I have become stronger. Now, whenever I see a hateful comment on Twitter or Instagram, I just move ahead and don’t pay much heed to it. But sometimes, you feel that it deserves an answer so you end up commenting,” she says.
Asha clams up when it comes to her personal life, insisting that she does not want to share details about her break-up with Pavitra Rishta co-star Rithvik Dhanjani, with whom she was in a relationship for six years. They parted ways earlier this year. However, she says, “We are on cordial terms and we only want the best for each other. We will always be friends, yaar.”