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Payal Rohatgi’s Journey from a Gujarat Board Ranker to an Actress: A Look at Her Views on the Entertainment Industry, Reality Shows, and More

Payal Rohatgi Talks About Her Career and the Entertainment Industry.

Payal Rohatgi's Journey from a Gujarat Board Ranker to an Actress A Look at Her Views on the Entertainment Industry, Reality Shows, and More

Hailing from a middle-class family and one that was keen on brilliance in academics, Payal Rohatgi was a Gujarat board ranker. She had the option to get into medicine, but she opted for engineering instead.  She was not particularly interested in the proceedings of the engineering field and so, to win a friendly bet, she took part in the Femina Miss India pageant. She got selected, thereby kick-starting her entry into the entertainment industry. 

Although she has appeared in several mediums of entertainment such as television soaps, films, and reality shows, she claims to enjoy being a television artist, the most. “I am just myself in that medium”, says Payal, on this topic. Besides that, her role as Kaya, opposite Irrfan Khan, in the film ‘Dil Kabaddi’ was her most cherished and endearing performance. “The experience that I had while working with him (Irrfan) was mind-blowing” claims Payal, as she mentions how memorable of a role Kaya will always be to her.

She also states that the latest reality show, ‘Lock Upp’ is her favourite amongst all the others. Payal makes a statement on how the entertainment industry has evolved by raising awareness of the different aspects involved in launching youngsters in the industry. The sexual harassment faced by both men and women in this field, especially newbies, is now a lot more addressed which is definitely appreciable.

Several clauses have been made, along with a better professional atmosphere, for strugglers and outsiders coming into the industry to make their mark. “We cannot stop nepotism because a cricketer’s son is entitled to become a cricketer and an actor’s son is entitled to become an actor, but we can obviously create a better atmosphere for outsiders who are talented”, comments Payal. 

She speaks on how reality shows are a better medium as compared to others because the content of reality shows is very real. The behavior of the contestants is not directed, instead, they choose their own personalities during the show. “Even if somebody tells you how to behave, you have the power, once you go inside the reality show to behave how you want to”, says Payal. Such shows have a very loyal fan base and contestants get a lot of fame by participating in such shows.

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Payal feels that reality shows are a game-changer, especially for newbies as they can earn a good reputation among the audience which in turn helps them in the future to get better opportunities. She also thinks that her great experience in such shows has made her “a better person, a stronger person, a mature person”. Since there are no mobile phones or any sort of social media influence while one participates in these shows, the decisions are totally made from one’s own thinking and character thereby contributing to the development of a person. 

Although she has not been a major part of theatres, she still enjoys them and would certainly like to explore more of them. When given a choice between TV and films, she prefers to do films because Indian television can get repetitive and boring.

For an actor, the more interesting aspect is to be a part of a web series or a film because the character has many shades and depth whereas, in television, more stress is given to the deadlines of the telecast. Moreover, the characters are written as per the creative need of the television show which may or may not benefit an actor’s profile too much. Thus, Payal feels that films, web series, and theatres have a lot more to offer.

Talking about pageants, Payal thinks that one becomes more “self-dependent, self-reliant” when they participate in pageants because each contestant is exposed to people from various cultures of the world who start off as strangers but eventually become confidants. The bonds shared with absolute strangers from around the world can do a lot to strengthen one’s perspectives and help one grow.

Recalling her win as Supermodel Miss Tourism World in the Miss Tourism World pageant internationally and her participation in the Femina Miss India pageant, Payal says that it is a great lesson because it helps one do reality shows with an unbiased approach which in turn helps a budding actor to become stronger in the struggles of becoming a successful actor. However, on being asked if she has ever dubbed any animated Hindi shows, she clarifies that she has not yet lent her voice to any such shows. 

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Payal Rohatgi's Journey from a Gujarat Board Ranker to an Actress A Look at Her Views on the Entertainment Industry, Reality Shows, and More

Payal calls 36 China Town a “great film”. She interacted and worked with Paresh Rawal, Shahid Kapoor, and Kareena Kapoor for the film. Although Shahid and Kareena were involved as a couple during that time, Kareena Kapoor was “very, very approachable”.

Payal says that her interaction with Kareena was very cordial and Kareena ensured that she never felt out of place, especially since Payal was a newcomer then and was obviously not as vocal about her thoughts as she is now. She also speaks about how this film was a thorough learning process for her as she worked with amazing actors and directors (Mustan and Abbas Burmawalla). 36 China Town was the first A-grade film which was a massive milestone in Payal’s journey to being a successful actress.

Payal speaks about working in a movie under the production of Ismail Merchant Movies starring Dilip Tahil, Sarita Choudhury, and other actors from London theaters during the initial days of her career. Unfortunately, this movie was never released but nonetheless, it was an opportunity for her to work in an international setup.

Talking about her marriage to Sangram Singh, an international wrestler, she mentions that they had formed a beautiful honest bond on the sets of a reality show called ‘Survivor India – The Ultimate Battle’ which eventually led to their engagement and subsequent marriage. Sangram is a known philanthropist, and motivational speaker and has also been closely working for the upliftment of the poor and girl child education. The bond they share has been irrespective of their career, their backgrounds, and their past and has been termed as “sacred” by Payal. Their marriage is an important aspect to both of them.

Payal is also a director at Sangram Singh Charitable Foundation. The couple has worked tirelessly for the upliftment of girl child education and had also organized an award show in 2017 to recognize forgotten wrestlers and pay them their due respect. Due to their lack of guidance and knowledge as neither of them is from a business background, they did face trouble initially to carry out the activities, even though they were aimed at a charity. However, it has been a learning process for the duo, which is why, now they have started working to gain a firmer foothold for their organization so that they can provide help to those who really need it.

To Payal, being active is something “inborn”. She challenges herself every day and aims to make the most out of each new day that God has bestowed her with. “I push myself, I get up, I do my yoga, I do my workout, and the new day starts and I make sure that I live this new day to the best of my ability”, remarks Payal. Making good decisions and doing right by others and also herself, are two integral affirmations of her day. 

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Payal Rohatgi's Journey from a Gujarat Board Ranker to an Actress: A Look at Her Views on the Entertainment Industry, Reality Shows, and More

Payal’s first award nomination was the Stardust Award, for her role in her debut film Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai. Although it was a glamorous role, it had a negative tinge to it. She comments on how being nominated for that award along with some of the greatest actors like Irrfan Khan was a gratifying and encouraging experience for Payal as a newcomer. Gulshan Kumar and Shakti Kapoor were the judges of the Hero Cycles Stardust Awards. She believes that any kind of appreciation really serves as good motivation, whether one is an outsider or part of the industry.

On being asked about her work in the television series Suryaputra Karn produced by Swastik Pictures, she said it was a great experience working with them as they are a good production house when it comes to producing such mythological shows. Although she recalls that shooting was difficult because she had to travel long hours – from Mumbai to Umbergaon daily, for a ten or twelve-hour shift.

Payal comments that the production house should take better care regarding the stay of actors as sadly two actors had passed away due to road accidents while returning from Umbergaon, on the sets of these shows. She hopes that they have improved their facilities. However apart from these hiccups, it was a delightful experience for her to work with Gautam Rode and his wife Pankhuri Rode in this show.

Written By

Soumyajit Dutta is a Cricket News Analyst and Author at Empire Weekly.

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