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In her element: Regina Cassandra 

In conversation with Regin Cassandra about her body of work and her take on the practise of gratitude. 

In a candid chat with Cosmo Ed Nandini Bhalla, actor Regina Cassandra talks about Zee5’s series Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, her most cherished characters on-screen, how gratitude has helped her immensely, and more.

Nandini Bhalla: Tell us about your current state of mind. 

Regina Cassandra: “I have been feeling great as there’s a lot happening in my life currently, both personally and professionally. This phase is really exciting and I believe I have evolved as an individual... In order to grow as a person, one needs to move out of their comfort zone. And the past circumstances have made me realise how I behave when I step out of my comfort zone.”

NB: Tell me how have you grown and what were you like earlier?

RC: “I joined the film industry almost two decades ago. Given that I was the first one in my family to venture into the world of films, my journey has been an impactful one in many ways. And over the years, I have experienced so much... Initially, I was just a teenager who didn’t know better—I started acting in films, but I did not know what it meant to be a public figure. It has been quite an adventure, really...”

NB: How do you view fame right now?

RC: “Being a public figure comes with certain responsibilities, and one needs to accept this as a part of the job. When people used to come up to me to take photographs or selfies, I used to wonder what I had done to be treated differently. Eventually, I started recognising the weight my job carried... I came to terms with the fact that my career is a significant part of my being...and that it isn’t a separate entity. And this realisation helped become more comfortable with myself, which, in turn, allowed me to manage my responsibilities in a better way.”

Regin Cassandra

NB: We shot with you couple of years ago, and it still remains one of my favourite shoots... 

RC: “I remember, we shot during the pandemic. Param [Sahib] had styled was an amazing shoot. And the set as well as the backdrop was designed by a close friend of mine from school. I am so grateful to have such talented friends in my life.”

NB: Tell me more about your character in Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, the Zee5 series. 

RC:Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke [2023] is a tribute to people in the forces. I play the role of Kavya Iyer, who is an IPS officer. It is an extremely interesting character—Kavya is a multifaceted character...a mother, daughter, and wife. But she is also very complex, because there’s a lot happening in her life. Regardless, Kavya means business. She is a hustler even though she has separated from her husband. Also, a pragmatic idealist at work, Kavya enjoys taking calculated risks and has a strong masculine side. While she has a dominating personality at work, but, at home, she is nurturing, caring, and emotional. So it was challenging and riveting to essay this character. 

What I loved about this project is that we shot at multiple locations like Shillong, Jaipur, Mumbai, and certain parts of Kerala. Sumit Vyas plays the role of the male protagonist, and we are all looking forward to him being on-screen, since it has been a while. There is also Gayathrie Shankar and Mita Vashisht, and I was so happy to share screen space with them. 

The series has been directed by award-winning director Srijit Mukherji and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. Srijit doesn’t let anything affect his work and I love that about him. Also, I have done some crazy action scenes and I hope everyone likes the show.”

Regina Cassandra

NB: You mentioned how Kavya is a strong-headed personality with bold, masculine energy. And yet she is expected to be a nurturing parent and a loving partner... Do you think this is a constant conundrum faced by working women? 

RC: “At the end of the day, it really boils down to the basics, and the only way I can put it is that I don’t give a f*ck. The thing about women is that we tend to get into our own heads. Men don’t have the same problem. But once a woman draws the line, no-one can get through us. I recently met Kiran Bedi and the DCP of Delhi Police... Both of them had an amazing quality—they were both so humble and gentle. There was no ego and they didn’t throw their weight around unnecessarily. It was a beautiful energy to be felt safe. 

These women mean business, but when you meet them, they are so simple and you’ll never know their power unless they want to show it. Kiran [Bedi] narrated the story of introducing meditation in Tihar Jail. She transformed the prison into an ashram of sorts. It can be difficult to imagine hardened criminals who are meditating...but Kiran Bedi made it happen. That’s so unique, I thought. Her statement made me realise how you can balance the masculine with the feminine. So when a woman is called a b*tch, or is pulled down by others, it shouldn’t matter because what she is doing and achieving is more important than petty gossip.”

NB : What kind of roles do you want to essay? 

RC: “I have realised that I like playing the ‘bad girl’ is refreshing to play characters like that. I can’t pin-point a particular genre that I am attracted to, but I want to tell good stories. I’d love to work with good filmmakers who believe I’d be able to pull off strong roles. ”

Regina Cassandra

NB: Tell us about some of your favourite roles... 

RC: “I have essayed a lot of characters, and, among those, I have a few favourites. For example, I played Mariam in Nenjam Marappathillai [2021], and her personality was so different from mine. I had shaved my head for Awe [2018], a Telugu film. I was sporting an undercut with cornrows and it made me feel like a different person altogether. It felt as if I was a Puerto Rican drug peddler! I also enjoyed essaying the role of the late dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai. In order to do justice to the role, I read her biography to learn more about her life—and her character had a huge impact on me. Then the one I played in Cargo [2019] was a very demanding role. The shoot was gruesome and hectic, and I had to drive a speedboat—something I’ve never done before—and, oh my God, it was crazy!”

NB: How would those close to you would describe you?

RC: “Some of my friends call me the mother of the group, because I tend to be overprotective of the people I love. But they’d also describe me as aloof, because I don’t like to get attached to anyone or anything. I can’t be in a codependent relationship with anyone in my life, be it platonically or romantically.”

NB: What brings you joy and what makes you sad?

RC: “I practice gratitude because I think I am very lucky. I am grateful for the blessings I have received. Earlier, I didn’t pay much heed, but since the past year, I have been consciously practicing gratitude. I set an alarm before every meal and I thank the Universe for all that I have. When I began praying, it felt fake, but with constant practice, it became a part of my routine and I eased into it. Now, when things don’t go my way, I take it in my stride, and I sit down with my feelings to deduce what hurts me. It’s the people who are closest to me who have that effect upon me. The people I work with, my team, and my close friends and family—they make me the happiest and also really sad sometimes.”

Regina Cassandra

NB: Regina, what are your hopes for the next few years?

RC: “I am looking forward to striking a balance between my work and personal life. I do not crib when it gets tough, but I do find myself tired more often than usual. I take two flights almost every day and people ask me why I don’t make things easier for myself, but the truth is that I like it... I enjoy a hectic routine and I have had this routine for years. So, I won’t say I want to strike a balance, I just want enough time to recuperate. I’d love to go on a holiday...or get a relaxing massage or just attend a music festival. And I want to get my energy levels up so I can go back to doing what I am good at.”

Regina Cassandra