Actor and philanthropist Raveena Tandon on what keeps her going

The artist and Padma Shri awardee discusses with Team Cosmo her journey in Bollywood, her recent stint in OTT, her passion for social causes, and more.

Actor and philanthropist Raveena Tandon on what keeps her going

Raveena Tandon is #MoreThanPretty; she’s ‘Pretty Iconic’.  Read on to know how she’s evolving in an ever-changing cinematic space and more
Cosmo: From being a Bollywood icon to adopting two daughters in 1995 at a time when being a single mother was not easy in Bollywood, working for the girl child at every step and later being awarded the Padma Shri…Team Cosmo thinks you’re truly iconic. What does being iconic mean to you?

Raveena Tandon: Being labelled iconic also comes with a responsibility, which honestly I have always taken very seriously. I have always been the kind that when I take on a job or any commitment, I give it my heart and soul. If my efforts have inspired people to do a good deed or to commit to a cause, it gives me a sense of gratification.
C: Congratulations on being awarded the Padma Shri last year. How does it feel?

RT: Being awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India is a significant achievement that I deeply value; it’s a huge moment for me and has filled me with pride and gratitude. It represents years of hard work and passion in my acting career, acknowledges my contribution to Indian cinema, and reminds me of my responsibility to my country's cultural heritage. It's all thanks to the support of my fans that I've reached this point. I’ve always aimed to portray diverse characters and tell meaningful stories, and this award confirms the impact of my work. This recognition motivates me to keep pushing boundaries and using my platform for positive change.

C: Tell us what makes you 'More Than Pretty'.

RT: I believe that people can be above and beyond their looks. For me, ‘More than Pretty’ is a title for someone who has substance, kindness, compassion, and an inner strength that resonates with what you want to achieve in every sphere of your life. Honestly, you should be telling me what makes me ‘More Than Pretty’ (laughs).
C: How are you enjoying the success of Karmma Calling?

RT: Working on Karmma Calling was an absolute pleasure from start to finish. The series offers a rich tapestry of suspense and drama, weaving together intricate plotlines that keep the audience engaged. As an actor, immersing myself in the suspense thriller genre was both exhilarating and rewarding.
C: Now that you’re dabbling in OTT as well, tell us what keeps you going in this ever-evolving cinematic space.

RT: What keeps me going is my never-say-die attitude. Our world is an ever-evolving, ever-changing space, and so is cinema—one has to move with the times and evolve along with it, and I think that makes it even more exciting. I love working with new people, actors and directors. It adds so many new dimensions, new thoughts, and new perspectives. And these challenge me even more to give it my best.
C: What has your experience been like working in KGF: Chapter 2?

RT: Working on KGF: Chapter 2 has been an exhilarating journey filled with unforgettable moments. Being part of the KGF franchise itself is an honour, given the massive success of the first instalment and the anticipation surrounding the sequel. When I was offered the opportunity to join the cast, I was beyond thrilled. What stands out most is the sheer scale and grandeur of the production. The attention to detail in every aspect, from the sets to the action sequences, is truly remarkable. Collaborating with some of the finest talents in the industry and witnessing their dedication and passion for their craft first-hand has been truly inspiring.

However, working on KGF: Chapter 2 hasn't been without its challenges. The film's ambitious scope and the physically demanding action sequences have pushed us all to our limits. Yet, these challenges have made the experience so rewarding, providing an opportunity to grow as an actor. Overall, my journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, and I am immensely proud of the film we've created. I can't wait for audiences to experience the film’s magic on the big screen.

C: What kind of characters do you enjoy portraying the most? Do you have a particular genre you’re inclined towards?

RT: Getting heroine-oriented roles back then usually meant sweet, beautiful characters that heroes would fall in love with. Back then, sweet roles were the norm, and stepping into unconventional roles felt like a daring choice. However, the portrayal in Aks (2001) was different and much darker—I don't recall heroines often opting for such roles during that era as they were apprehensive about being typecast, and we often found ourselves in roles portraying sweet, affluent father-daughter dynamics, often dancing to catchy tunes with ponytails. I made a deliberate effort to take on films and songs, which broke that mould. Whether it was Daman (2001), which addressed a sensitive issue or Aks (2001) where I portrayed a completely negative character, and later in Satta (2003)—these projects were all divergent from the norm of the late '90s. I believe I've not only survived but thrived in my career, reaching a luxurious peak today with projects like KGF: Chapter 2 and others on the horizon. My secret, I believe, lies in embracing new characters and breathing life into them—that's my craft. In our time, we earned the opportunity to choose such roles after having a substantial body of work, but nowadays, this trend has shifted to earlier stages.
C: Is there something you miss from the early days of your acting career?

RT: Reflecting on my journey in acting, there are certain aspects of the past that hold a special place in my heart. One such element is the strong sense of camaraderie and community that characterised the film industry during the early days of my career. Filming on location provided an opportunity to immerse ourselves in diverse cultures and environments, enhancing the authenticity of our performances, and infusing the filmmaking process with a sense of adventure. Additionally, I appreciate the simplicity of storytelling in the past, where the strength of the script, the depth of the characters, and the actors' skills were paramount in captivating audiences. I cherish these memories.
C: Do you think actors could have benefited from social media in the '90s?

RT: Looking back at the era when I began my career in the '90s, it's fascinating to contemplate the impact that social media could have had on actors during that time. While social media didn't exist back then, I do believe that actors from the 90s could have potentially benefitted from the presence of such platforms, albeit in different ways compared to today. In the '90s, actors relied primarily on traditional media channels such as print interviews, television appearances, and fan mail to connect with their audience. Social media offers a direct and immediate means of communication with fans, but it also exposes actors to the scrutiny of the public eye and the pressures of maintaining a carefully curated online persona. Furthermore, the immediate nature of social media can occasionally result in misunderstandings that may potentially affect an actor's reputation.
C: If a biopic was ever to be made on you, who according to you could aptly portray your character?

RT: If my life were to inspire a biopic, I'd feel honoured to see it unfold on screen. As for who could play me, there are many talented actors I admire. The right person would need to grasp the essence of my personality and experiences, not just look like me. They'd have to authentically portray my journey, from struggles to triumphs. In our industry, there are plenty of actors with the skill and depth to tackle such a role. Ultimately, it's up to filmmakers and casting directors to choose the best fit, and I'd trust their judgment. After all, storytelling is a collaborative art, and I'd appreciate seeing my life depicted with authenticity and respect.
C: What keeps you grounded?

RT: Throughout my career as an actress, I have found that staying grounded is essential for maintaining balance. My upbringing in a close-knit family with strong traditional values has instilled in me humility, gratitude, and empathy. These principles guide me both personally and professionally. Practising gratitude and surrounding myself with a supportive network further anchors me. Overall, it is a journey of self-discovery and growth, shaped by upbringing, values, and the support of loved ones.
C: If not an actor, what would your career path look like?

RT: I believe I would have gravitated towards a path that allowed me to express my creativity and passion in other meaningful ways. Throughout my life, I've been drawn to various artistic endeavours and philanthropic causes, and I could see myself exploring avenues that align with these interests. Over the years, I've been deeply passionate about various social causes including women's rights, children's welfare, and environmental conservation. I could see myself dedicating my time and energy to advocating for these causes, raising awareness, and working towards creating positive change in society.
Look courtesy: Mango India @mango @mangostores_india

Shoot talent: Photographer: Anubhav Sood (@anubhav_sood); Stylist: Gopalika Virmani (@gopalikavirmani); Assistant Stylist: Riza Rizvi (@withloveriza); HMU: Ashish Bogi and Shura