A graduate in advertising and marketing, actor and writer Sukhmani Sadana forayed into the world of television through her penchant for travelling. Post hosting countless travel shows, the Sacred Games’ starrer dabbled into the world of web series, ready to turn eyeballs on yet another platform. Exploring the world, however, continues to remain her first love—an itch she satisfied recently on her rebound trip to Goa. She tells us all about her journey to the beach-state and life in general. By Bayar Jain
1. You were born in Amritsar, and then you studied in Dehradun, New Delhi, and finally Mumbai. Which of the four is your favourite and why?
I love each one of them as all hold a special place in my heart. Dehradun was the turning point of my life—leaving home and moving on in life, and looking forward to bigger things. College in New Delhi was my adolescence stage where the little girl in me stepped onto adulthood. I learned how to take care of myself, and—like the song goes—find my own footing to face this big world like a big girl! However, despite this, Amritsar will always be nostalgia for me. It’s the city where my heart smiles. For me, the choice is simple. It has simplicity in a pure form. After all, there’s a reason it’s called the Holy City. There’s something in the air there that reminds you how beautiful life is, and how everything will be all right. It’s comforting; and the people are warm and full of love.
2. Over the years, you’ve acted in various roles and also done scriptwriting for shows and movies. How different or similar have both the experiences been for you?
Acting and writing are poles apart as professions, but only on paper. If you ask me, I actually think acting and writing marry very well. Initially, my writing and acting careers were like chalk and cheese and I had a really tough time keeping both afloat. At one point, I even considered dropping one of the two! Luckily with each passing year, even though the workload started to increase, I found a way of balancing the two. I found that my writing skills were helping me act better and with each acting project, my writing was getting better too! It’s because as a writer, it’s our job to observe insights of all human types. Writing just makes us more aware of humans and their thought processes. And that I can use for a better performance in my acting later. I can get into the skin of the character I’m playing and wonder what she would really be like if she existed beyond the screen. On the other hand, I try to describe my screenplays and script in as much details or clarity as I can because I know what an actor wants and requires on paper to really understand the writer’s visualisations.
3. You’ve had to travel for many of your TV shows and movies. Which one has been your most memorable work trip?
Since I’ve hosted more than 100 travel episodes, it’s really hard to pick a favourite. Cambodia was surely a trip I’ll remember, possibly because I may not have gone there had it not been for the show. When I did go, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see its versatility. The place’s history is worth a read; the monuments and temples are picturesque; the food activates hidden taste buds; the hotels are grander than you’ll imagine; and the people leave a mark in your life.
Another place that I found stunning was Bhutan. I don’t think people in India have realised what a piece of paradise it is. Considering how tourist-y Indians are, Bhutan is quite understated. When the aircraft lands on Bhutan’s small runway strip, trust me, you’ll get goosebumps. Of course, that could also be because it’s freezing outside!
4. Web series or television—your preferred medium, and why?
Web series, hands down! I was never a big fan of television as a medium, apart from a few channels. As a writer, I felt our creativity is limited there. I also feel that the ones who had a foot in managed to stay and it was very difficult to break in as an outsider. Web series have been a breath of fresh air and have opened up another door of opportunities, especially for newcomers like me. I feel web series have given me that one opportunity I needed to prove myself to the world with my work. I am forever grateful to this platform for two reasons: one, it has given me—and many others—a chance to step into the industry; and two, for helping me let go of inhibitions by breaking norms and not stifling creativity. We shoot, make what we want to say as a creator, and our end product is not based on censors, edits, cuts, or critics. The freedom to say and make what someone wants to is applause-worthy according to me.
5. You’ll be heading to Goa for your rebound travels. Which places do you hope to revisit during this trip?
I have tons of places on my list, mostly because I haven’t travelled in six months! Being a travel-lover, this is the longest gap I’ve had for a holiday. I love adventure, discovering new places, meeting new people, and getting to study a town or village. I’ve taken recommendations from friends on the latest new additions in Goa since I’ll be coming back after a year. I’ve been hearing a lot about Prana Cafe, Suzie’s, Babka, Sakana, Artjuna, Ping’s Bia Hoi and Mahé, to name a few. I also plan to check out the health activities at W hotel—I believe it makes the hotel worth a stay. It’s also one of my favourite locations to stay in Goa. Their curated dining experiences and extravagant service always take my heart!
Sadly, Morjim beach is shut or I would have loved to hang on a hammock at one of the shacks. Also, since my trip is planned for the monsoon months, swimming in the ocean isn’t an option. I’ll most likely stick to the pool at my villa. And on a day I’m feeling thin, I’ll hop on to Burger Factory and stuff my face with some burgers too.
6. Your best Goa memory?
My trip with my girlfriends last year has been my best memory so far. Five girls driving around, singing songs, swimming together, laughing, being silly and chasing sunsets wrapped around lush green fields and mountains…that’s what I remember Goa for.
7. Goa is usually perceived as a party destination. Your views?
I thought the same until last year, and honestly, that’s not my vibe. Because of this, I would always think twice before making a Goa plan. I prefer travelling to chill, relax and unwind. I want to read my book, have my chai or coffee, laugh, take it easy, go discover new places and local spots, etc. But last year, my girls told me that they will change Goa’s impression for me and that I need to let them take me around their way and show me another side of the state. The happy, sunshine, no-party-gorgeous-early-mornings kind of Goa. I’m really happy I took that chance! Goa has another side to itself, which is great for yoga, meditation, good health, organic living, cleansing and that much-awaited detox.
8. How are you ensuring COVID-safety on rebound travel?
I have taken all the precautions I could while making this plan. I used a N95 mask, and then wore a disposable mask on top of that. Then, I had my gloves on, and a face shield throughout my flight. I sanitised my hands and ensured people around me did too. I take my supplements everyday—vitamin C and D—and drink tons of hot water throughout the day. Rest I can just hope that all stays safe and well. I’m more worried for my parents than myself, and I can just hope I don’t come back with the virus and pass it on to them.
9. What are your predictions for post-COVID era travels?
I hope it opens up slowly, though I’m not sure how safe it is. There are thousands of people who want to be at places right now, not just because they need a getaway, but also since some are far from their loved ones. I think that even if COVID-19 doesn’t go anywhere, people will start going everywhere soon nonetheless.
10. Your next holiday destination, and why?
I had planned to go to London this year since I’ve never been there and it was on my travel cards. Now let’s see when that happens but for me, my suitcase and my camera are eagerly waiting to get that UK stamp on my visa and explore a part of the world I’ve never seen before. The traveller in me is itching to take multiple flights, check-in into a nice hotel, and explore once again!