Jhanak Shukla was all of eight when she started in showbiz. After playing the title role of a humanoid in popular TV show Karishma Kaa Karishma and doing the Shah Rukh Khan starrer movie Kal Ho Na Ho, she went away. Years later, Jhanak, now 25, went viral in the news media as she confessed to ‘not earning’ anything.
She grew up a familiar face and the entertainment world gave her some lifetime memories to cherish. “I remember having fun during childhood. There were many kids who used to feel that I was a robot. Later, when they used to meet me, they realised that I was a normal person. Once, when I was travelling with my family, a boy insisted on checking my back for the ‘machine’. It was fun and since I was a kid, I used to enjoy the experience. The stardom never got into me because my family, friends and school kept me grounded. I used to love that people are praising me but that never made me feel like, ‘oh, I want to be an actor’,” says Jhanak.
Asked about what prompted her to look for an alternate career in studies despite doing good in her short stint as an actor, she adds, “When I was working, the world of movies felt attractive. I enjoyed when people used to come up to me and take pictures. I liked the camera, rehearsals and the attention that I was getting. I also used to enjoy going to school. My parents intervened and asked me to complete my graduation first before taking a full-fledged, professional plunge into acting. In the meantime, history started looking interesting to me and I felt like I wanted to take this forward.”
Jhanak says seeing her actress mother, Supriya Shukla, also drove her further away from acting. “Looking at her made me question whether I’ll be able to work for such long hours or not. I feel she is too hardworking. In comparison, the roles I got were easy and the shoot timings too were flexible. I could manage a normal life. Then the shift somehow happened. For now, I love the stream that I have chosen to pursue. If a nice role comes my way, I would not say no to it. Nothing as such has come along as of now. But I am hoping an OTT project with an interesting role that is appealing, happens.”
How did Jhanak feel about the fame going away and what is she up to these days? She says, “I was used to people praising me. But when it started declining, I was still okay with it. It was not all of a sudden, so it did not affect me. Now, I like this part of my life too which is silent. I can roam around freely.”
“Currently, I am doing a distance education programme in management studies. I have already completed my masters degree last year. Then, I have started a venture of making soaps. I initiated this during the lockdown and it has turned out to do well. Now, I want to settle abroad, preferably in New Zealand.”
Jhanak also shares her views on celebrity status being attached to kids of famous parents and the role of social media in it. “People are getting an exposure into the glamour world at the early stages of their lives. It’s both a curse and a boon, depending on how you perceive it. The kids today appear quite mature. Careers are getting started at a much younger age and a lot of good actors are coming up, especially in the web space. Social media has a significant role to play today. When I was acting, that wasn’t there. I don’t have many pictures from my shooting days despite working on Karishma for one-and-a-half years. Nowadays everything is being recorded and a lot of it is going online. The fans can see what the celebs are doing. This kind exposure is good for children who want to grow up to be actors.”
She has an advice to people on dealing with life without fame. “You should not be affected by criticism. People’s opinions should not bother you. Enjoying life is important. Popularity is important but one’s life should not be all about that.”