Sai Tamhankar: Starting something new has kept me mentally involved. It’s therapeutic

The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for everyone, but Sai Tamhankar is used to such ups and downs by now. She confesses, “My career has been like an ECG graph. There is nothing constant in it.” For someone who likes to take on new challenges, she doesn’t regret the choices she made and is ready for newer things, a new venture being one of them. In a chat with us, Sai speaks about the same, her work-life post the new normal, why people call her team the ‘Bomb Squad’ on sets, and the reason she’s not active on Twitter of late.

You were one of the first Marathi actors to have returned to the sets post the lockdown. Since the first workday in the new normal to today, how have things changed?

Between then and now, I think the number of sanitiser bottles used by us has increased. The rest of the precautions and work routine is largely the same. I am being very cautious because COVID-19 is not something you should be casual about. People on the sets of Maharashtrachi Hasya Jatra call my team the ‘Bomb Squad’ because my seating area is sanitised before and after I go there. I have even purchased a UV light stick to be doubly sure of the hygiene. After returning home too I thoroughly sanitise myself and my clothes. I think it’s a necessary routine given the fact that we are not out of danger yet.

You are someone who is looked at as a fashion icon by many. But has that been an inspiration for you in starting your new fashion venture?

Absolutely! I love clothes. It’s something I have always been fond of. It may sound weird, but I talk to my clothes; I thank them because they give me joy. My foray into the business of saris is definitely inspired by that. There’s an interesting story behind this too. My partner in this venture, Shruti Bhosle, has been a dear friend since class XI. As teenagers we had decided that one day we would do something big, a business that people would look up to. You know how teenage dreams are. Somewhere over the years, perhaps the drive fizzled out, or we didn’t take that dream ahead. But when Shruti got in touch a few months ago and asked if I am still game for it, I was in! With her and her husband Sagar, who is a solid support to both of us, we said hello to a new beginning on the occasion of Dussehra.

It’s a tough time to start a business. Was there any inhibition of diving into this entirely new area?

I think I’ll look on the positive side of it and say that the move itself is commendable for us. There’s a lot of work involved and besides being exciting, it’s therapeutic because it keeps us mentally involved. That’s something we all need in this time of crisis. Shruti and I are burning the midnight oil and we are loving what we’ve started. We have weavers from different parts of the country involved in this venture. Thankfully, the response has been fantastic, and we hope it continues.

Speaking of being the mental aspect, the past few months have taken a toll on peoples’ mental wellbeing. Some of it is reflecting on social media and has led many people to quit Twitter, including your peers Subodh Bhave and Siddharth Chandekar. Your take on this?

Although I haven’t deactivated my Twitter account, I have been off the platform for a few weeks. It may sound cliche but there’s too much negativity there right now. You say something, you are trolled. You don’t say anything, you are questioned. It’s pointless. And, at the moment, my mental health is more important than paying attention to trolls and toxicity. I am not in a space to deal with the negativity. Probably people are frustrated with the pandemic and are venting on social media. Let them vent. If and when they stop, I will return to being active there again.

Barring the comedy show that you are judging right now, are there any more projects that you will start soon?

I have a Marathi film, a Hindi film, and web series in both languages in the pipeline. But that’s all that I can say right now. I hope to begin work on these soon. There’s Mimi, which is complete, and we hope it gets a theatrical release soon.

Since you’ve honed your cooking skills during the lockdown and with Diwali around the corner, are there any faral items that you will be preparing?

I won’t be going into the kitchen anytime soon. I’ve had enough of cooking throughout the lockdown and that should suffice for another 6-8 months (laughs). My mom is preparing some dishes that I love, and I will gorge on them this time.