Right from her debut in 2000 as a child artist in Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya to her most recent appearance in Code M – Jennifer Winget has always been a hit. From playing a doctor in the wildly successful Dill Mill Gayye slowly transitioning to the soft, stern but inherently strong Kumud Sundari Desai in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saraswatichandra, to playing the insane Maya Mehrotra in Beyhadh, that just further highlights the chamaeleon she is when it comes to changing her look as a performer. So much so that Beyhadh is back in 2019 – the same threat, the same passion, and the same devastating beauty – Jennifer still knows how to keep you hooked on her screen. In 2018, her portrayal of Zoya Siddiqui in Bepanaah with Harshad Chopra was so beloved as a classic love story that they were awarded Times of India’s Favorite On-Screen Jodi Award. Jennifer made her OTT debut as Major Monica Mehra in Code M in 2020. The show’s second season, which was released recently, skyrocketed to the top of the charts. In an exclusive interview with Filmfare, she shares her vision of always being a part of everything extraordinary.
Everything you touch turns to gold, be it Dill Mill Gayye, Saraswatichandra, huge hits with Beyhadh, Bepanaah, and now Code M — what it feels like to be called the hit machine of tradition. Figure?
I like it very much. When I started doing television, the times were very different, so for me to have such an opportunity to play different characters, I feel very fortunate and grateful. Because it happened to me so early in my career, it’s become my mantra now that I don’t want to do the same roles, I need to do something different. I want to learn something new, and everyone will learn something new from me. I like the switch. I love playing characters that aren’t just white or black. In that gray area, there’s a lot of scope for me as an actor. So I think it has become my second skin.
Over the years, you’ve had competitors in your industry that are always venturing, seeking Bollywood’s big dreams. But you don’t seem to be inclined towards that?
I have aspirations. I want to do a movie, maybe in Hollywood. There is no limit to dreams, so why not? But when I do television, I’m so busy that I don’t have to do anything. Now that OTT has come into the picture, the line between television and Bollywood is slowly blurring and I get asked this a lot. I want to do a good job. I’m not going to do it just because it’s a movie and I have to play a substandard role. I would rather wait.
How do you separate yourself from complicated characters?
It’s a challenge, especially when you’re playing a character like Maya. The process of getting into a character and getting out of it because television isn’t like the movies that you just shoot 3–4 months after, a TV show will last at least 8–9 months. And if you play a character every day, it becomes a part of you. With Maya, the whole process of getting into that soul was fun because I got to do everything a hero would do. It’s exhilarating as an actor to play such a powerful role. So it’s hard to import and export characters, but it’s fun. I love that process.
What challenges did you face while practicing the action sequences for Code M?
Playing the role of an army officer and going through all that training was fun. In season 2, we just came out of the pandemic and right before shooting I had COVID, so I couldn’t do much pre-season practice, but the background we had in season 1 helped us a lot. much. Before season 2, all of my training was done on Zoom. It really has the right to wear that uniform. You just automatically change your entire demeanor. I remember the first time I put on the uniform, I was in tears because I had never seen myself like this.
What is your scaling process? Do you have moments where you are inspired by the work being done by your contemporaries?
We have access to not only Indian content but much more. I love Mumbai Diary. I think that show is very well written, performed and directed. Then there was the Scam obviously 1992. I saw a lot of shows like this and I wanted to be a part of them, but I don’t know, they didn’t approach me.
You played a quintessential good wife in Saraswatichandra, a doctor in Dill Mill Gayye, and a dark-minded tycoon in Beyhadh and now a military officer in Code M- What genre do you mean Is the most challenging you as an actor?
Every character has a little bit of me in it, otherwise it wouldn’t be real. When it comes to challenges, Beyhadh challenged because it was something I had never done before. Even for television, there is always a vampire. There is a hero, a heroine, and a vampire. But Beyhadh changed the game that time for TV because there wasn’t much importance to the gray characters. So for me, I think it’s a bit of a challenge but a lot of fun.
So where do we see you next?
I’ve been saying this for the longest time. I really want to try my hand at comedy. And I think I’m really funny, so I really want to do it. It’s too early to say anything about this, but I’m trying to do something about it, so when it’s all done, I’ll tell you about it. I can’t talk about it right now because everything is in the early stages. But since no one offered it to me, I figured I’d just have to make one.
Horror movies are the current trend. Do you see yourself acting in historical dramas on cinema, TV or OTT in the future?
I’ve been reading this book for a while called The Longest Kiss. It’s a book about Devika Rani. She was the first woman of Indian cinema to kiss, but the story behind that is completely different, but that’s what everyone knows. She’s had such a powerful and exciting life journey, so I think if someone could do that, I’d love to play Devika Rani.