Shenaz Treasuryvala was the hottest thing to have happened to Indian television when this Greek Goddess started off as a VJ on MTV. Soon she was the pin-up girl of India and the celebrity crush of every Indian boy. After television, Shenaz soon made her Bollywood debut with Ishq Vishq alongside Shahid Kapoor.
Shenaz, who started off her tryst with glamour from a very young age, is an extremely busy lady these days. Not only is she playing an integral role in a popular American TV show but she is equally busy with ‘Smile With Shenaz’, a one of its kind show, wherein she meets different people from all around the globe and make them smile… something that she is best at! Satish Sundaresan of Bollywood Hungama met up with Shenaz for an exclusive interview, wherein she spoke about her show, life and much more!
To start with, where has the ‘brand ambassador’ of love vanished after the release of Delhi Belly?
Thank you so very much (blushes). Nobody told me I was the brand ambassador of love, although I have often heard that I am the brand ambassador of smiles. Now to answer your question as to where was I for so long, well… after Delhi Belly, I left India to go on a vacation to the U.S. Out there, I simply landed up getting a role in one of America’s longest running soap operas ‘One Life To Live’.
Wow! That’s really something. Can you please tell us about your role and your character in that soap?
I play a character named Rama Patel who is a sexy but cunning Indian woman and who cheats on her innocent husband with every good looking guy she meets! On the show, I must have probably kissed more than Emraan Hashmi and must have fought more than the mother-in-laws do in the saas-bahu serials (laughs)! If that’s not enough, I also got indulged into not just verbal fights and cat fights, but also into pulling women’s hair!
By being the first Indian woman to be on an American soap opera, you seem to be the female counterpart of Kabir Bedi!
Yes indeed! While the first Indian man to appear on an American soap opera was Kabir Bedi, I am the first and only Indian woman to do so.
A little birdie told us that you rubbed shoulders with the likes of Ridge Forester (from ‘Bold and Beautiful’)! Is that true?
It is indeed true! I had been to the Daytime Emmys, where I met the legendary Ridge Forester and Tylor, the same very people whom we all grew up watching on ‘Bold and Beautiful’.
How and when did you realize that your calling were the proverbial greasepaints and the spotlights?
During my childhood, there was a time when I was the fat kid who got bullied and had names like ‘Thunder thighs’ and ‘Lioness’. Things changed during my eleventh standard, when I was selected for modeling. That’s how I modeled for brands like Gold Spot, Phillips, Palmolive Soap, Akai TV etc. Amidst all this, I got selected for MTV as a VJ. My ‘MTV personality’ gradually got developed in retaliation to being bullied so much at school.
Is it true that you can make anyone smile in a jiffy?
Yes, that’s true! I can make anyone smile within the first 50 seconds of meeting me. Trust me; I can even make the grumpiest of the person to smile in a jiffy! More of such smile factors can be seen in my current show titled ‘Smile With Shenaz’, wherein, in just two minutes, I tell stories of different people from around the world.
How did ‘Smile With Shenaz’ come about?
Till date, everyone whom I met had just one thing to say about me… that I made them smile. And that’s how the idea of my weekly show ‘Smile With Shenaz’ came about. In the show, I introduce the viewers to a different individual in every episode. Through the show, I am constantly trying to find interesting characters, their stories, their life’s philosophies. And amidst all this, I make them smile- all in just 2 minutes flat!
Can you share with us some of your experiences while shooting for the show?
In San Juan, I met this White Caucasian man wearing a turban and following the entire five ‘K’s of Sikhism. I even met an opera singer in New York, whom I completely shook by kissing him! Then, there was this artist whom I met, who explained why all Puerto Ricans have ‘Happy Endings’!
With so much happening in your life, you seem to be one busy woman!
You can indeed say that. Besides the show, I am busy writing another screenplay and also prepping for my own one woman comedy show. In addition to this, I just finished dubbing for my Hindi film Main Aur Mr Right and also my new sitcom show in the USA.
With oodles of experiences behind you, do you ever see yourself directing a film?
For now, I am just writing screenplays and acting. But yes… I will surely direct someday. Not many know that I had also written the film Luv Ka The End.
How content and satisfied are you with the way your life is shaping up now?
To tell you the fact, I am in a very happy space. Touch wood! I feel so very blessed. I am full of stories and experiences. I have wonderful parents and friends. I am a very happy and a content person today. I just couldn’t have asked for more.
Looking at the way you travel non-stop, we are really curious to know as to when did the travel bug bite you?
My father is a sailor and I was conceived on the ship! I guess that’s how and when the travel bug bit me. I can’t imagine just being in one place!
On a personal front, what does your Facebook status say: ‘Single’ or ‘In a relationship’?
Presently, it says that I am single. And the reason being that I don’t think I’ve met my chosen one as yet. The irony of life is that when there’s compatibility, there’s no chemistry and vice versa. As a ‘dedication’ to love, I have made a video ‘Finding Love In Major Cities’ wherein I travel around the world asking people what it takes to find love in their city.
Of all the diverse roles that you have played so far, which one do you identify with the most?
I identify with almost every role of mine. There is little bit of me in all of them. As an actor, I have to find something to identify with. Even if the character is all grey, I need to understand why and justify every action of the character. That’s my technique to approach any role.
Why don’t we see you signing more commercial films?
I do films whose screenplays and characters I love. I have no ego and can do even the smallest role which I love. As far as me signing more commercial films is concerned, let me tell you that you will get to hear some great news very soon!
What’s your ultimate goal in life?
I want my tombstone to read ‘SHE MADE EVERYONE SMILE’. In addition to that, I also want to make a big smiley face across the globe!
On a parting note, is there any message that you want to tell your zillion fans out there?
All that I want to tell each one of them that ‘Smile With Shenaz’ is as much as your show as much as its mine. Do watch the episodes and let me know the feedback. In addition to that, also do tell me as to why I should come to your home and shoot a ‘Smile With Shenaz’ video with you. I want to see you all, know you, find the real you, learn your story and then… MAKE YOU SMILE!