She shot to fame with her character Kumari from her super hit Kumari 21F and there has been no looking back ever since. Meet Hebah Patel, a chirpy firehouse of energy – who likes to live her life on the go. With a smile that would light up a room and laughter that turns heads, she’s a walking-talking heroine. Hebah thinks from her heart, is genuine and doesn’t believe in doing anything half-heartedly. Extremely popular with the masses, we caught up with the PYT to know more about her work, workout and personal life…
Text: Anahita Ahuja
Photography: Akshay Rao
Jewellery: Sri Ratnaraj Jewellers
Let’s talk about work – what are the factors that you keep in mind, before signing a film?
There isn’t any fixed criterion as such! After a rollercoaster of a ride, I have finally started to look at the script before everything else. Then comes the banner, director and actor.
One movie you wish you hadn’t done?
I think I have gotten something out of every movie I have ever done. So I don’t regret anything.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a movie by Ayodhya Kumar with Adith Eswaran. It has honestly been the most challenging role of my life – physically, mentally and capacity wise as well. This movie was my transition of being a heroine to an actress. So it is safe to say that it’s been a very rewarding one even before it has hit the screens.
How do you prepare yourself for your characters?
Before this film, I have never had to prepare for a character. But in this I had to be something I am not, and probably would never be. So this involved me making efforts with my body language in a certain way, which had to be worked upon. Thankfully for me, the dialogues and expressions have never been a concern.
“When you are brought up by a single mom, and she’s quite strong – you end up taking a lot from her and try to be as strong as SHE IS”
You are related to as the girl next door – what is your definition of one?
My definition of one is who can be cute when she wants to, and be hot when she wants to.
If you could change the image you have, what would you rather be known for?
I am very happy with my image – I think I can be both cute and hot! (laughs)
On Mother’s Day:
You were brought up just by your mum – how has that changed the way you have shaped up?
Honestly, it’s always just been my mother and khaala jaan (aunt) around so I have never felt any void or difference. The two ladies did their job like any normal parent would. The change has been was the typical societal norms where we believe we need a man to do most things. My family has only been of women and they’ve done a great job!
Single mothers bring up Boss girls – your take…
Oh yes, of course. It stems from the fact that when it is just one parent bringing you up, they have a lot more to prove. So they are very supportive, encouraging and push boundaries with the child, as they want to compensate for the lack of the other parent. When you have a mom doing it, and she’s quite strong – you end up taking a lot from her and try to be as strong as she is, if not stronger.
What is the one thing you would do exactly the same way with your kids, as your mum did?
She let me make my mistakes, let me learn from them and allowed me to follow my dreams – that is something I want to do too.
We’re sure you mother your mum now…
Yes, with time parents become more laid back and allow their kids to take charge. Mine has become calmer too. My sisters and I are more responsible now and it is time for us to take care of them. It actually is quite a lot of fun too!
There were a lot of talks about your weight issues last year, after which you bounced back and shut everyone up with a drastic change… Tell us about the transition.
I would never call it a drastic change, as it was a very slow process for me. I worked every day, with baby steps towards my goal – so it was anything but drastic.
Yes, I did gain a lot of weight in the middle, after which I realised that this was not something I could afford, especially because of the industry I belong to. So then one morning I decided to change that, and lose off whatever I had gained. The transition was very difficult as it included giving up on something I really, really liked – food! So it was all the more difficult for me.
What’s your take on body shaming…
I think we need to stop body shaming, because there is a lot more to a person than just their shape. But, having said that, I am in a very superficial and visually appealing line of work, so body shaming does become an integral part this industry. This is just something that comes with my job.
How pressurising is it, as a celebrity to constantly look a certain way?
It is, but that also comes with the job. We are stars because people look up to us – and for that we do need to maintain a certain level of appearance. This is just something that one needs to grin and bear with it, as we sign up for this as we get into this field.
How did you lose weight?
I was on a proper strict diet which was being watched by my nutritionist, with which I also worked out 4 times a week.
We hear you have been trying different forms of work out…
Well, yes, only going to a gym can get boring at times. I started martial arts and absolutely love it! Things that happen around me, tend to irritate me easily, so I imagine the person/thing as the punching bag and take out all my frustration. I also go for Pilates. It was something I only started out of peer pressure, as it looked like a cool thing to do for actresses but I actually started enjoying it soon after.
On A Lighter Note:
You idolise Kareena Kapoor Khan. What would you do if you woke up as her one fine morning?
I would never go back to sleep!
What is the best gift one could give Hebah Patel?
Taimur Ali Khan – isn’t he the cutest baby in the whole wide world? (laughs)
What one trait sets you apart from your colleagues?
I think my major highlight is that I can crack a joke on myself and then find it funny too! Not too many people around me can laugh at themselves.
Does your bubbly and fun nature/image come in your way sometimes?
Yes, people tend to not take me seriously as they should, and at times it also comes across like I don’t have a brain of my own, but I’d rather have them think like this, than lead a boring life.
We have noticed your captions on your social media posts – most of the hash tags are quite unique. Where do you come up with them from?
Haven’t you checked my intro on Instagram? It says “always random”! That is exactly where I get my captions from. My Instagram profile reflects my mood and the person I am – I type whatever is my state of mind.
“Losing weight was very difficult as it included giving up on something I really, really liked – food!”
What is the most useless talent you have?
(laughs) Really? I think, it would be that I am capable of making a joke out of anything!
You also enjoy binge watching a lot of sitcoms. Which one is your favourite and why?
I have favourites in different genres. The top four would be F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Sex And The City, Orange Is The New Black, and Desperate Housewives.
Let’s say if you could swap your life with one of them – who would it be?
I would want to be Monica Geller or Phoebe Buffay from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Actually, most definitely Phoebe.
What is that one role you think you would pull off effortlessly but hasn’t come your way yet?
In all honestly, I don’t think I can pull off any role unless there is a pressure to pull it off. So this thought never comes into my head.
Imagine yourself to be a magician – what tricks would you do and around who?
I would trick all my directors into believing that I am a mind blowing actress! (bursts into laughter)
According to you, which fictional character would be boring to meet in real life?