Ishika Taneja is a model, actor, businesswoman and philanthropist. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation with her.
Congratulations on the success of your latest music video ‘Dil Mangdi’. How do you feel?
I feel amazing. Especially in this time of Covid, where there’s so much sadness around, to get something positive is just god’s blessings.
When did you shoot for this project?
Between the first lockdown and the second lockdown, we had a few days. So we flew to Goa and followed the protocols of course, because we were very concerned about everyone’s safety. So we took the required permissions. But then, God was kind. We managed everything and shot in Goa.
How was your experience working with the entire crew?
Oh, it was a blessing. First of all, when I talk about T-Series, they are so supportive and amazing. They keep supporting you and pushing you forward. They give you a platform where you can create anything and give it to them. They are very welcoming in that sense. Jasbir Jassi Ji is legendary. Even Parmod Rana Ji, who is our director, knows how to take out the best in just two days. We didn’t have a lot of time. We didn’t have a lot of crew. Everybody was multitasking because we could have only a limited crew with us. But it was an amazing experience.
You look extremely beautiful in the video. And since you are a makeup lover and have been a part of the beauty industry for a long time, so do you prefer to do your own make-up while on set or do you guide the make-up artists? What’s the process like?
Thank you so much for the compliment. That’s very kind. I feel that makeup is an art form and everybody does their art very differently. So, if my makeup artist wants to do something, I always give them space. They can do whatever they want to. I will not interfere at all. But in the end, I will definitely tell them if there’s something that I would want to change. But I feel like I can’t be very interfering because as an actor it is my duty to be just a canvas and they can paint me and the director can show me the way he wants to.
You also hold a Guinness World Record in the field of beauty. Can you tell us more about it?
It’s a Guinness World Record in airbrushing. It’s a kind of makeup that we do. I am not gonna touch your face and I will do your makeup. So, I have set a record of 60 different looks in 60 minutes. I did it in 2014 as a kid. At that time, I dedicated my award to Nirbhaya. We raised a lot of money for 24 rape victims and we gave them free education and taught them how to set up their own beauty salons so that they become self-sufficient. So, we helped 24 rape victims and acid attack victims to set up their own salons and get employed and employ others.
It was like women empowerment mixed with my Guinness Book of World Record.
How did you come up with this unique idea of setting a record?
That was like my childhood dream. I always wanted to be in this industry because my mom comes from the similar background. We have salons all over India. We have clinics actually. We have a mix of beauticians and doctors together. So, every doctor will heal you and treat you.
I was always mesmerized by make-up and glamour. But I had no clue that I would end up in the film industry and sign films and do songs. That was never my intention.
But I used to love creating looks with makeup. Even as a kid, when I went to UK, then I thought you know, that India doesn’t has a name in Guinness Book of World Record in the beauty field.
I applied for Guinness around 7-8 times and I got rejected each time. Finally, they accepted my thing and then I set the record.
How did Bollywood happen in your life?
That’s again a funny story. I actually went to Bombay to get franchises for our salon. We had just expanded in Southern side of India and I thought that I am gonna stay in Bombay and it would be easier for me to manage things from there.
Madhur Bhandarkar Sir is our family friend. So, he offered me a song (in 2017 Hindi film Indu Sarkar). He said that since I was in town, I should do it. I thought that it would be fun and I agreed. So, that’s how it started. While I was shooting this song, I got an offer for a web series and I had no clue about acting at that time. So, after I did that, I kinda liked it and I thought that I should get myself educated in that. So, I did a little bit of theatre and did my training. It was more of a destiny and going with the flow.
How do you juggle between all these roles?
I think women are like that. They know how to multitask. they know how to become a sister, mother and a daughter at the same time. they can just flow in any direction.
What do you like to do the most among all these roles?
i just love getting consumed. Like when I was setting Guinness World Record, I locked myself up for 6 months in my basement. I did not go out. I did not switch on my phone. i was just painting my walls. I kept on practising on 100s of faces. I was so lost in it that I didn’t care about anything else.
Even in the film industry, while I am on set, I don’t get to know when it’s day and when it’s night. I just get so consumed and I like that.
If it is not engaging or tempting enough, I will not take that job. That is the only high that I get.
Since working in films was not your initial plan, what’s the one thing that you like about it now?
I love the way people are so creative here. People have a very different perspective about everything in the film industry. But they are extremely caring. I am from Delhi, but I love this thing about Bombay. they are very helpful. They understand you, they want to help you grow. And since, in Bombay, people are coming from different backgrounds and cities, they are very talented. Everyone has struggles, but this industry does give you a lot. I truly believe that.
What kind of films would you like to do in future?
I love the roles I have picked up right now. In one of the films, my character has a multiple personality disorder where I am very sweet and become very aggresive sometimes. So, I like the duality in my character. I can show my talent with this role.
In the other one, I am a female chauvanist. I mean, I am a feminist, but a very strong headed feminist. So, in this film, my character learns a lesson when she falls in love. It’s a love story. It is again a very strong character.
But something that I would love to do is play a very soft and subtle village girl kind of a role. I really wish to do a basic role.
How do you choose a film?
I choose a film on the basis of the people involved in it. And definitely the script and the kind of roles that I am getting. But my first priority is people in the project. If I feel comfortable, safe and secure around them, only then I would choose to do a film.
People know you and your work. But they don’t know much about your love life.
I think I have been very shy about that. In the sense, that I don’t date very easily. I like to be solo. The guy that I dated was a long time back and I have been single after that. So, let’s see if someone nice and perfect comes along, then probably yeah! But nothing happening right now.