Recently, Netflix released Mismatched, a show based on the book 'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon. For Vidya Malavade, who plays the adorable Zeenat Karim on the show, the love and reception received by Mismatched reminded her of another major project that she was a part of.
"It feels like Chak De 2.0. The response has been so overwhelming. People are loving the show and the amount of love that I'm getting is just unreal. I'm so overwhelmed sometimes with tears in my eyes. In the last few days my phone has been beeping constantly and the amount of Instagram stories and posts about all of us, about Zeenat and Mismatched, it's mad. This is a truly new way of doing things," said Vidya.
Vidya's character is a 41-year-old woman who enrolls in a computer-coding course and has to navigate the world of mean and tech-savvy teenagers. While the target audience of the show is young people, Zeenat is probably one of the most relatable characters in the show.
"As an actor, at least for me, I always bring a part of myself to everything that I do. And somewhere, I am also an extremely old soul as a person and so is Zeenat. There is also an inherent strength in Zeenat to have lost her dream at a very young age because of the pressure of getting married, among other things. So to become this person and then to come out you are in your 30s or 40s, going back to college, that requires a lot of guts. I don't know if I had it in me.
"But she was also very similar to me in that sense. For example, in this lockdown I decided that I had to start my YouTube channel and start teaching yoga, which I finally did after a year and a half. I reconnected with my old Kathak teacher. It has been a dream for so many years. When I was young, I used to dance Kathak and then life happened. I started working and then all these hobbies just had to take a back seat. So I felt like this is the time, I'm gonna do this. I started learning French again. That's how I, as myself, related to Zeenat. I keep saying that she's probably the closest character I've played to myself," Vidya said.
She added, “I do remember when I first read script, there were a couple of things that were glaring at me and I thought that these are the two things that I need to bring to this character, only then she would become the character that the writers thought. Those two things were, she needed to be warm and endearing and even if she's older than the rest of the kids around, she needs to retain her innocence. A lot of people came around and said, 'oh my god she's so beautiful and innocent and warm.' and I was like 'okay those are the things that I had in mind. I'm so glad that translated so beautifully. I just knew that for her to come across the way she does, I just needed to take a step back as Vidya and put this part of me out there.”
She came on board two days before the production began in Jaipur amid a series of favourable coincidences.
"I was laughing in the middle of the night when I read the script and started giggling. And then came that line where I said 'When my husband died, I felt free.' There is so much that has gone behind in this moment. How small town girls dream, and how she could never really dream after getting married, again. The strength of the character that comes through is when you know you kept your dream alive, you treasured your dream like a little child and you got one opportunity now where you can actually go out there and do it, if you have the guts. I think it's inspirational for me as well," she signed off.