Comedy runs deep in the family for Ragini Khanna. Her uncle Govinda and cousin Krushna Abhishek have made a name for themselves in the genre. Ragini herself has been part of several comedy reality shows. But the actress says she has never used her lineage to secure opportunities.
"My first show was Radhaa Ki Betiyaan Kuch Kar Dikhayengi, a slice of life story, not a comedy. Then I did Bhaskar Bharti, playing a man in a woman's body, which was presented as a comedy. It dealt with a lot of sensitive topics like Bhaskar going through a menstrual cycle, suffering from PMS, etc. He had to wear dresses and heels and still deliver on the job, so the messages were delivered in a very fun way. Then I did Sasural Genda Phool, which I would say was a slice of life show," she says.
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Romancing nostalgia ❤️ 10 years of Bhaskar Bharti ❤️ thank you my TV godmother @deeyasingh1 ❤️ you know I love you tonnes for holding my pinky little finger and guiding through the big bad world of “Men’s Universe” Thank you god 🙏🏼 “I am the man” just like Bhaskar said it 🙂 #blessed #timeflies #genderfluid
Although Ragini has been part of reality shows like Comedy Circus and Comedy Nights Live, she has also tried to include other genres in her acting repertoire.
"My film Gurgaon wasn't a comedy, Ghoom Ketu was a comedy, but that never released. Posham Paa (her latest film on ZEE5) is not a comedy. I've had some great directors who thought I would be suitable for certain parts, I never chose ke mujhe sirf yeh karna hai ya who karna hai."
However, she does not take away the credit comedians and comedy shows deserve. "Comedy is way more difficult to crack than making an emotional connect with the audience. Comedy is very subjective, it's a thinker's job. If you don't get the sensibility right, you have the power to put off so many people. The stand-up comedians, in their acts, are mostly presenting the truth, which we find funny," says Ragini.
While Ragini's grandmother was singer-actress Nirmala Devi, her mother Kaamini Khanna is a writer, music director, singer and anchor. "As an artiste, I have refrained from telling people about my family. When I was starting out, I never told anyone who I was. I went as a random person who aspired to be an actor. Not one recommendation call has ever been made for me to get any acting opportunity," she adds.
Ragini finds it disappointing when it is assumed that people like her, who have a background in the industry, have used their connections to get work. "I know how hard I have worked to make my career. But someone from outside will say oh she is so-and-so's niece or granddaughter. Despite giving thousands of auditions, people think I have got jobs because of recommendations."
She insists, "Nepotism also has its downside. If I chose to become a singer, I'd be compared with my grandmother's 40 years of work. She is a legend. I'd be suffering the baggage of my lineage. It is much better to be an outsider, believe me. Things are much simpler, your personal life is not up for public dissection. Sustainability has nothing to do with nepotism. You need nerves of steel to survive over here."
Despite having worked in daily soaps at the beginning of her career, Ragini was never part of a regular 'saas-bahu' serial, even though she was really keen on doing at least one Ekta Kapoor show in her life.
"It was my ambition to do at least one saree-clad role on TV. When I had signed on Radha Ki Betiyaan, I was in consideration for Bidaai, for Sara Khan's role. I was really keen on doing it, for me it was 9 0' clock prime time and that was a huge deal. You won't believe, I got rejected because somebody thought my cheeks were too chubby!"
Ragini was last seen in ZEE5's film Posham Pa alongside Mahie Gill and Sayani Gupta. The film is a dark tale of a mother who pushes her daughters into pursuing a life of crime. The psychological thriller is inspired by true events and casts Ragini as a sociopath.
"It has been very overwhelming working on this film, because this is someone who you don't encounter in your daily life. I build the character out of my reading of criminal psychology, watching the news, inputs from the director and writer and using my imagination," she signs off.
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