She started her acting career as a child artiste on the small screen as Rani Laxmi Bai in historical drama show, Jhansi Ki Rani. It has been a long journey for actress Ulka Gupta, who will be seen in the mythological show, Shaktipeeth Ke Bhairav.

In an interview to thestatesman.com, Ulka shared her experiences in her nine-year-long journey, why talent recognition matters to her the most and why she doesn’t consider anyone as her competitor in the industry.

Excerpts:

You have been in the industry for almost a decade now, how has been the overall journey for you?

It’s been a great journey so far, a wonderful experience with so much learning. In all these years, be it films or television, I have enjoyed my work and I feel grateful that the fans have appreciated my work.

What matters more to you between awards and fame?

For me it’s about getting appreciation from the fans and critics. I believe it’s very interconnected, but to be particular, if my work is being recognised then that’s all what I’m happy with it. Appreciation can be in any form be it awards or popularity, so in the end, appreciation of my performance is all that matters to me.

Everyone remembers you as the fierce yet elegant young Manu from Jhansi Ki Rani, so do you want that character to remain with you forever?

I want that to be a part of me. It’s one of the roles that I justified the most. But I don’t want to be known as the girl who played young Rani Laxmibai in Jhansi Ki Rani. I want to be known as a good actor not confined to a particular role. That’s a good thing if people remember me from that role but I want to add everything I have done so far in my journey.

So, how is your current show, Shaktipeeth Ke Bhairav, different from Jhansi Ki Rani?

Jhansi Ki Rani was very much natural to me. And it was about human being and a personality in the history. People didn’t know much about the younger Rani Laxmibai, I had a liberty in that show while essaying the role. Whereas, in this show (Shaktipeeth Ke Bhairav), there are many protocols to follow. There is a certain kind of aura that I must enact to look like the goddess, Parvarthy. Another important thing that makes the two shows different is their genre. Jhansi Ki Rani was a historical drama show and Shaktipeeth Ke Bhairav is a mythological show.

You once said that you lost some good roles because of your skin colour. How?

I don’t remember if I said this or not but even if I did lose those roles because of the stereotypes of not being a tall and fair girl, I don’t regret it. I’m totally okay with that. I’m a strong individual so these kind of inferiorities doesn’t affect me. There is a tag of this ‘up market girl’ for tall and pretty girls, but I’m happy in my own space as it doesn’t affect me or my work.

So does that mean the perception of the industry has still not changed?

It has changed quite a bit. If the show’s theme is that requires a tall and fair girl then it’s okay, but choosing a ‘upmarket girl’ just because she is fair then that is not justified. The perception has changed but not like what it should be. Because ignoring talent on the basis of her complexion is unjust.

Did you face such a situation in your career?

You face that everywhere, someone actually did question me about my skin colour but the point is even if I lost some good roles because of my skin colour then I’m not crying about it. If that was the case then I wouldn’t be able to make it this far in the industry.

You have done films in Southern cinema and Hindi Television industry; isn’t difficult to work in multi-lingual projects?

I love languages, I love challenges. I have done two films in South and one film in Marathi is coming up. It is difficult to learn those languages but if you are willing to learn then you are comfortable with it. I won’t shy away from grabbing a good opportunity because of the language barrier.

When do you plan to make your debut in a Bollywood film?

Soon. But I need to mention that I’m not a part of Student of the Year 2, it’s a rumour. I wish I was a part of it, I wish it were true.  Nonetheless, you’ll see me in a Bollywood film at some point of time.

Do you see any of your colleagues or co-stars as your competitors?

No. It’s nothing like that, I only look at myself. I don’t believe in comparisons as every individual is better than the other here or there.