Preetika Rao, who has a chequered career behind her as a model, journalist and now actress, can’t believe the impact of her serial “Beintehaa”. She says her character Aaliyah is a “serious responsibility on my shoulder”.
“When I took up the offer, I knew I was getting into something special. I loved the storyline and my character Aaliyah’s spunk spirit and social concerns.
“But I never imagined Aaliyah would become a role model for Muslim girls all over the world including our neighbours in Pakistan as well as England and Spain. It’s an amazing experience and also a very serious responsibility on my shoulder.”
“My social life has come to a grinding halt. I can’t meet friends nor spend time with my sister Amrita. We’re constantly battling deadlines on the serial… There is no room for illness when doing a daily soap,” she said.
Preetika adds doing a serial is tougher than doing a film.
Just how Preetika bagged “Beintehaa” is a story of its own.
“I was a model, and a very successful one at that. My very first campaign was for Cadburys with Bachchan Saab when I was just a child.”
Once she got bored of modeling, Preetika quickly moved on to other vocations.
“How long could I hold a product and smile into the camera? I did some South Indian films, one each in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. I went into print journalism. Then I went to New York for a three-month course in screenplay writing.”
After Preetika returned from New York, she got a number of television offers.
“In fact, one soap for another production company was finalised. Coincidentally, my co-star in that soap was also meant to be Harshad Arora. That serial was taking a little bit too much time.
“Meanwhile, both Harshad and I were offered ‘Beintehaa’. And here we are.”
Preetika says her sister Amrita Rao enjoys the serial as much as anyone else.
“Amrita is very happy for me. She knows as well as anyone else the reach and viewership of television. ‘Beintehaa’ reaches into lakhs of homes every day. I feel very happy. It has revived the soap-viewing habit among people who were bored of the ‘saas-bahu’ formula.”
She is not pining to get into Bollywood.
“But if it happens I will be okay with it.”
Incidentally, Preetika was mistakenly considered Amrita’s twin sister.
Laughing it off, she said: “People had never seen me. They drew their own conclusions. Now that they’ve seen me they know we sisters are two different personalities. And we occupy two different visual mediums.”