The Rising Star of Bollywood—Sitting Down with Ahsaas Channa
In the early 2000s, a young Ahsaas Channa graced the big screen in the prominent Bollywood film, Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and as the lead in Rajiv S Ruia’s My Friend Ganesha. She has also made her mark with Disney Channel India shows—Oye Jassie and Best of Luck Nikki. Over the years Ahsaas has only gone from strength to strength, playing Richa in Girls Hostel, Akanksha in Amazon Prime Video’s Hostel Daze, and Shivangi in Kota Factory. We at The MIT Post had the privilege of interviewing this stunning starlet during The Manipal Conclave 2020.
You were quite prominent as a child actor, starring in a wide range of films and shows. Did it ever take a toll on you mentally because you had to face the entire industry at such a young age?
Not really, when I was younger, I was more chilled out, and I did not take any stress. I was enjoying my work. When you enjoy your job, and you love what you do, it never takes a toll on you. Even now, I’m working on a very hectic schedule, with just two to three hours of sleep. But it’s not taking a toll on my mental health because I like being busy; I like overloading myself with work. It’s not a good thing, but that’s just me. Work is something that I never take negatively. What actually might affect me negatively or take a toll on my mental health would be being insecure about something that I might lose—such as a good project that I could lose for any reason. Even that feeling lasts only for a few days, and it happens for a good reason. I have made my peace with that. But work has never been a reason for my mental health problems.
You are just 21 and quite a sensation among the youth of India. How do you choose which roles you want to play knowing that it might have a significant influence among the youth?
When you have that amount of followers on social media, whatever you do matters, not just roles. Even if you post on social media or promote something, you have to be very careful. I am somebody that attracts drama like this (snaps fingers), I attract controversy like this (snaps fingers again). So I have to be extra careful when it comes to anything like that. That responsibility and awareness is something that you really need. I’m trying to achieve this, and I’m still learning from my mistakes and others. I have a long journey ahead, and I have to learn a lot. With roles, I have to be very careful, especially when it comes to the dialogue. If even if it’s slightly offensive, or it has something it might turn heads, I have to be careful about it. I always have long discussions with the writers and am constantly scared of this fact.
When you were younger, you played a male character in many films. What was this experience like for you?
One day, I found myself randomly in shooting, playing a boy. This was back when I was four-years-old, so these things weren’t really discussed. I trusted the people who were around me, especially my Mom, with everything. But it never felt any different because everybody around me knew that I’m a girl; plus, I knew I’m a girl. It was made obvious to me because, for a four-year-old, it’s always a very risky scene. When you’re that young, and when things are happening in such a way, you need to be very self-aware, and it totally depends on your guardian or whoever is taking care of you. For me, it was my mom and was very assured that I know that I am aware of what is happening. Even if I’m dressed up as a boy, it’s only for the camera; it’s only acting. These things were always taken care of, which is why it was never weird or different; and eventually, I grew up. One thing that happened to me during this era was that I was scared that I will never be able to grow my hair because I’m playing a boy, and maybe God has signalled my hair will never grow. This was one breakdown I had which was again taken care of. I think as far as the rest of it is concerned, it wasn’t too weird or anything.
You worked with big Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta at a young age. How was that experience, and how did it influence your work over the years?
I think it was awesome. Firstly, think I had one of the biggest star casts around me when I was shooting Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. But at the same time, I learned a lot at a very young age, especially since I was only six when I was shooting for the film. From Shah Rukh sir, I picked up a lot of things from him such as he was very focused, and he was very hard working. Even at that stage, he used to learn his lines all the time. He was never a person who took anything for granted or anything easy. He put in all his effort, and he gave a lot of inputs in many scenes. If you watch the film, especially all of my scenes, there’s something or the other that he has improvised or he has added in. He had discussed them with Karan Johar, and he’d added a lot of things to the script. I think that is something that I learned from him. Preity ma’am was the most fun to work with. She was so bubbly. She was very nice and happy all the time, always running around. I learned a lot from that film. I was fortunate that I got to work with such big celebrities at such a young age, and I gained a lot of things out of that. It was awesome! When I returned to school, the amount that I showed off was a lot of fun.
As a child you were primarily present on the big screen, but lately, you have worked a lot more on web series. How does your acting process vary for the two platforms?
It doesn’t have that much of a difference. I get this question asked a lot because people think that it’s very different, but it’s not. Both these platforms have us telling a story and creating content. It’s nothing different, just a slight difference in the time. It totally depends on the schedule and the script. Even films take a shorter period of time, web series also takes a shorter period of time, or it might take longer also. But there’s not much difference for sure.
Featured image credits: Spideyposts