Remember her from TV drama Manay Na Ye Dil?
Deepti Gupta has become quite a known face in Pakistan after starring in a number of local television serials.
She made her way into Pakistani dramas following Mehreen Jabbar's Pehchaan and has since been grateful for having been a part of stories that deviate from the regular saas-bahu TV serials being produced across the border.
"Sultana Siddiqui, who owns Hum TV, saw Pehchaan. The channel officials called me and said they really liked my work and they had another serial in Australia for me (Manay Na Ye Dil). Given how things were in Hollywood, this was refreshing," Deepti told Indian Express.
"Most of my work has been for Hum TV, and I have the greatest regard for Siddiqui and Momina Duraid, the creative mind there. They’ve held on to great, poetic story-telling, unlike Indian TV serials. I don’t know if I could have found a similar space for myself in Indian serials."
Having worked in Pakistani dramas, she realised they offered her more room to explore her acting talent.
"It was only after I left India and became a part of minority communities in Singapore and the US that I realised my privilege back home. The roles I wanted and didn’t get made me aware of the stark racial politics in the US.
"In this milieu, Pakistani dramas were like an oasis. They allowed me to play characters that are complex and full, and that have arcs — a character who has a small moment, like making chai, and then a big dramatic scene. This is why these dramas are so dear to me."
However, Deepti adds, there was no escape from the general stereotypes: "I mostly played the wife who will be scorned for a prettier girl. Nevertheless, I decided very early that I am going to play these parts from a place of strength. This gave me something exciting to play with, sometimes working against the script."
And like all actors who have worked across borders, Deepti too felt right at home when working alongside Pakistani actors.
"I never felt any tension with the Pakistanis I worked with. The people who carried out the attacks on Mumbai were Pakistanis and Muslims, but that does not speak for the entire Pakistani or Muslim peoples. By the same token, all Hindus should be condemned for the RSS’s actions. And if Hindus can say they don’t all endorse the RSS, why don’t Muslims or Pakistanis get the same pass?
Deepti's dramas have also been viewed in India, as her dramas Malaal, Ijaazat and Neeyat have aired on Zindagi channel.