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    Will Mona Singh Leave 'Jassi...' In May?

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Monday, March 28, 2005
    Jassi of the frumpy clothes, oversized glasses and braces has finally transformed into a svelte, well-groomed woman sporting a trendy hairstyle and wardrobe and ready to take on the world.

    For more than a year Jassi, the working-class icon in the popular soap "Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin", was the intelligent but plain looking girl who was made fun of and manipulated by her boss at the fashion house where she worked.

    But now Jassi has undergone a dramatic transformation. On the much-awaited makeover, Mona, who portrays Jassi, said it was required to move the story forward.

    Jassi''s personal and professional life had reached a "dead end" and she needed to feel good about herself, said Mona, just back from a long makeover innings for Jassi in Mauritius.

    Jassi''s new image, created by leading stylists Queenie Dhody and Seema Khan, was in keeping with the growth of her character, Mona said. She expressed confidence that viewers would accept Jassi''s new look.

    Mona''s contract with Sony expires in May. Asked what she intended to do after that, Mona said she would continue to act and would never quit television. She told IANS in an interview that she had some offers from Bollywood but was not excited about them.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    What would you say about the dramatic transformation?

    Not so dramatic, really, she laughs pleasantly. I've been sleeping peacefully with my braces and glasses for more than a year. And I don't think I am tired of them. The makeover isn't ultra-glamorous or anything. It isn't as if I'll now go around sporting a chic attitude. Right now the fringed hairstyle is out. I've just had a terrific haircut. So it's goodbye to Sadhana (the actress who patented the fringe hairstyle).

    But why the need for the makeover?

    If you notice, Jassi had reached a dead-end in life. Her love life was in a mess. Her feelings for her boss Armaan had been crushed. My character had more-or-less overdosed on self-annihilation and needed to feel whole and healed. That's why the rejuvenating trip to Mauritius with Neena Gupta. That's why the new look. Jassi's friend Purab (Samir Soni) is going to play a big hand in her makeover.

    Why this radical shift in the soap's policy that inner beauty is all-important?

    It's true we're now looking at both inner and outer beauty. But I don't think that will affect the popularity of the show. My fans are as excited about my change as I am. I think the TRPs are going to go up even more.

    Why the need to make a spectacle of herself?

    Because that's how I look in real life, the actress insists. She also insists that the model in the Asian Paints ad is not her...and bursts into peals of laughter.

    Seriously I'm very excited about my new look. Leading stylists like Queenie Dhody and Seema Khan are working on my appearance. The character hasn't changed at all. But it was very important for Jassi to gather self-confidence,not to let people take her for granted and to look like the female entrepreneur that she is. For that she needed to look more presentable.

    So is this radical shift in the soap's attitude to physical beauty?

    No. We never meant to say that physical beauty wasn't important. One has to have respect for oneself. And looking presentable is part of that. But it isn't as if Jassi is going to be one of those glamorous unattainable chicks. Then she'll end up like the characters Mallika and Pari on the show.

    "Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin" has been on for nearly a year and a half. Mona's contract expires in May 2005.

    What next?

    I haven't thought about it. I haven't had the time. I guess I'll take a long break in May. It's been a really hectic time for me - no time for anything except work. But I asked for it. This is the time for me to build on my career.

    No plans for another soap?

    I want to do a soap as different and pioneering as Jassi. I'm getting a lot of film offers. But they haven't been worth considering seriously. I'll consider a new soap and may be film offers after my contract with Sony expires in May. I'll start planning soon. But one thing is for sure. I'll never quit TV. The home medium has turned me into a household name. In cinema you're forgotten after three hours.

    But will viewers accept her as another character?

    I don't want them to forget me as Jassi even when I stop doing the role. I've done so many different things within this one role. I couldn't have hoped for a better chance to prove my talent.

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