An emotional connect

Telly Star

Household name: Disha Vakani

So much so that they become a part of your daily conversations. You bring them into your living room, spend your afternoons and evenings with them while they entertain you on the small screen. Daya Gada is one such character.

Her histrionics will leave you in splits and her charming persona lights up the screen. Growing up in Ahmedabad, reading books by eminent Gujarati writer, Tarak Mehta, Disha Vakani never thought that one day, she would be part of a show that was inspired by the works of the same litterateur. “I grew up reading stories by Tarak Mehta, especially his book, Tarak Mehta No Tapudo and humorous column, Duniya Ne Undha Chashma.” She adds, “I loved participating in fancy dress competitions and plays in school.

Performing in front of an audience was addictive; it was pure passion. Being an actress was my destiny, I guess,” she says.

It all began when Dilip Joshi suggested Disha’s name for Daya Gada’s role. “He had watched me perform in a play and he believed that I would do full justice to Daya’s character. A few auditions later, I was Daya Gada in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasmah. I was on cloud nine as this was my first big break,” she recalls fondly. Two-and-a-half years and more than 500 episodes later, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasmah is one of the longest running shows on Indian television. It has more than 20,000 fans on Facebook and even more across the country. Daya Gada has numerous forums and sites dedicated to her and Disha is only humbled by all the adulation.

Over the phone, she comes across as a person who worships her work, a rarity indeed. And it speaks for itself too. Along with several other awards, she also won the best actress award for a comedy show at the 8th and 9th Telly Awards. “It’s surreal sometimes. When people are inspired by you. In a way, they render you this huge responsibility. Therefore, it is my job to keep doing good work as I am obligated to my fans,” says Disha.

Moreover, the job of making people laugh is difficult to accomplish, she feels. “Television today is saddled with tearjerkers. It is easy to make people cry but I want to be part of projects that spread cheer, have something positive to narrate to society. The common man wants shows he can relate to,” says the budding actress.

The other thing that keeps Disha going is the creative satisfaction she draws out of her work. “Working for more than 12 hours everyday can get burdensome, but when you are associated with talented people, work doesn’t seem to be a chore,” she avers.

She credits the team of Taarak Mehta..., especially her co-star Dilip Joshi, writers Raju Odedra, Rajan Upadhayay and director Dharmesh Mehta, for her quirky one liners and exaggerated accent that have made Daya a household name. “Dilip Joshi had seen me doing some mimicry on stage. He asked me to incorporate that accent in Daya’s character and that’s how her intonation was conceptualised,” remembers Disha. Apart from the accent, of course, what defines Daya is her love for her family and for life. But there aren’t many similarities that Disha shares with her on-screen character. “Unlike Daya, I am an introvert. I could just spend my day reading books and listening to music,” she says.

It has been ten years since Disha has made Mumbai her home. And, like many others, she hopes to make it big in Bollywood where she has already done a number of small roles, the most prominent one being in Jodhaa Akbar. “Although TV is a creatively satisfying medium, working in the Hindi film industry has always been my dream. Hard work will always reap rewarding results. I have the hunger to do good work and be remembered as an actor. The only way to achieve that is by learning and getting inspired from other reputed actors, both on television and films,” adds Disha.

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