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The Real ‘Scoop’ On Karishma Tanna & Her Journey To Success

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Nayare Ali

Karishma Tanna may be known as the queen of reality TV, but her repertoire of work extends to much more. HELLO! gets the ‘scoop’ on this actor, who has finally found her moment in the spotlight.

It’s often said that an actor is as good as his or her director. For Karishma Tanna, a television star and reality show winner, it took a director of Hansal Mehta’s repute to spot the hunger in her…

Having been a known face in the industry for over two decades now, Karishma patiently waited for that one meaty role that would acknowledge her as an artist of substance, which arrived in the form of Scoop, a Netflix adaptation of former crime reporter Jigna Vohra’s book, Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison. The show tapped into this actor’s latent talent and brought to the fore what she always wished to exhibit.

“Throughout my career, I embraced every struggle and challenge that came my way as an opportunity for growth. I believe in the power of hard work,” says Karishma, who proved her mettle with an emotionally mature performance as Jagruti Pathak.

Destiny Calling

Expectedly, when a critically acclaimed director is casting for his show, there are many contenders for the role. But Jagruti Pathak was written in Karishma’s fate, and she’s delighted with all the praise coming her way.

“I was travelling when I got a call from casting director Mukesh Chhabra’s team for an audition. I’ve been getting these calls for a long time now. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. That’s how an actor’s life is. I gave the audition and was later told that it was a Hansal Mehta production for Netflix,” she shares.

In fact, Karishma had aspired to work with Hansal after watching his earlier production, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story.

“I’ve always wanted to showcase my acting talent to the world. I believe in constantly honing my craft and pushing myself to excel in whatever opportunity comes my way… Hansal sir gets into the finer details of a story. He brings out the best performance from an actor. I’ve been a part of this industry for a long time, but nobody had spoken about my acting abilities until now.”

Fortunately for Karishma, she nailed the audition and was shortlisted to play the character after a week.

“My hopes were high. I loved that the role was of a strong, female, Gujarati protagonist (I’m Gujarati, too), and there were so many layers to it.”

With so much of emphasis attached to authenticity today, one would have expected Karishma to prepare for the character by interacting with the author. But she met Jigna — who incidentally didn’t just appreciate the actor’s work but also felt that she resembled her in appearance — only when they were nearly done with shooting.

“I was to play a real-life character that was not based entirely on the book. A few aspects were dramatised for the series, so Hansal sir was very clear that he didn’t want me to consciously pick up any of Jigna’s traits,” she explains. “It helped that when I read the script, I could relate to it. Like the character, I’m very passionate and hungry about achieving things and seek appreciation for my work. I could understand the character arc.”

The Whole Spectrum

Karishma was always attracted to the world of cinema and acting. As she frames it, “I always had this Bollywood bug, even as a child.”

“I’d often enact some scenes from movies in front of a mirror. And in college, I auditioned for a Balaji television series and got selected. That’s how my career began.”

Since then, Karishma has traversed multiple mediums of entertainment. She’s taken up supporting roles in films like Grand Masti and Sanju. But it’s when she transitioned into the web space with Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, a popular series also starring Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar, that she began to be taken seriously.

“I’ve enjoyed every phase of my career. I’ve always been open to stepping out of my comfort zone — like I did with my reality shows and accepting new challenges or roles that showcase my ability as an artist.”

Karishma began her OTT career with the 2021 series, Bullets, and also earned praise for her portrayal of a cop in Hush Hush last year.

“I was very focussed on getting good work, irrespective of the medium and it eventually happened for me,” she says. Above all, though, she’s recognised as the queen of reality shows, having been the first runner up on Bigg Boss in 2014 and the winner of Fear Factor in 2020.

“I was just myself and never followed a strategy to win any show,” she shares, when asked how she pulled off the feats. “I’m very happy with where my career is right now. I’m a brand, have done some amazing reality shows and always wanted my acting to shine. Today, I’ve ticked all those boxes.”

Behind The Scenes

Recognised as a fashionista with a fabulous sense of style, her favourites include Falguni & Shane Peacock, Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi.

“I just like to wear something out of the box. Perhaps that’s why my style stands out.”

Besides her career, Karishma’s personal space is also in the throes of newlywed happiness. She met her now husband, Varun Bangera, two years before their picture-perfect wedding in 2022. A little-known fact is that it was Manish Malhotra who introduced the two of them at a party. Their nuptials in Mumbai made a splash across the web, and Karishma made a glowing bride who appears to have found her best match in the real-estate businessman..

“If you want to keep your personal life sane, it depends on you and your partner,” she says, dismissing a question on work-life balance.

“Everyone makes a big thing about balance. But we don’t make a big deal out of our marriage either. We were always good friends and that’s how it’s remained. We lead a very normal and happy life.”

This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the July 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!