Rashami Desai is an Indian TV actor, best known for playing the lead roles in series such as Uttaran and Dil Se Dil Tak. She was born into a middle-class Gujarati family and lost her father when she was quite young. She was raised by her mother. Rashami joined dance classes as a teenager, where she got trained in classical Indian and contemporary dance. She began her entertainment career with Assamese films and later turned to TV. She also earned a big name for herself in the Bhojpuri film industry, appearing in films such as Gabbar Singh and Nadiya Ke Teer. After appearing in Hindi TV series such as Raavan and Pari Hoon Main, she made her big break in the industry with the soap opera Uttaran, which became successful in India and abroad. Following her successful breakthrough, she appeared on dance reality shows such as Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and Nach Baliye and ended up as the first runner-up on both shows. In 2019, she appeared on the reality show Bigg Boss and became more popular.
Childhood & Early Life
Rashami Desai was born Shivani Desai on February 13, 1986, in Nagaon, Assam, India, to Ajay Desai and Rasila Ajay Desai. Her family was of Gujarati descent, and she grew up with her brother, Gaurav Desai.
Rashami’s father passed away when she was still a child. Thus, the entire responsibility of raising the two children fell on her mother, who worked as a government teacher in Assam. Her mother earned a limited salary and barely made ends meet. Rashami has mentioned in many interviews that her mother had struggled hard to give both her children the best upbringing she could.
Since her mother was a school teacher, there was ample pressure on young Rashami to perform well at school, but she was interested in other things. She wanted to make a career in the entertainment industry ever since she was a young girl. Hence, she often scored poor grades in school. However, she successfully convinced her mother and joined dance classes.
She began her training with the classic Indian dance form Bharatnatyam. Over time, she received training in contemporary Bollywood dance, too. Initially, she wanted to become an air hostess. However, her career goals changed after she joined dance classes, and she began dreaming of being a choreographer in Hindi films and on TV shows.
Rashami Desai’s mother was taken aback when Rashami shared her dream of becoming an actor with her. Her mother knew the uncertainties and the pressures that befall film professionals and thus protested. However, she eventually agreed. By then, Rashami had changed her name from “Shivani” to “Divya.” However, before she entered the industry, Rashami consulted an astrologer and zeroed in on the name “Rashami.”
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Rashami Desai began her acting career in 2002, making her film debut with famed Assamese director Munin Barua’s Assamese film Kanyadaan. She played a guest role in the film. She was 16 years old back then.
She got a major breakthrough with her second feature film, the Hindi film Ye Lamhe Judaai Ke, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Raveena Tandon. The film received abysmal reviews from critics and was labeled as one of the worst films of 2004. Despite playing a prominent supporting role in the film, Rashami did not benefit from such a huge opportunity and chose a different track for her acting career.
In 2004, she turned to Bhojpuri-language films, known for their B-grade production and crass storylines. She made her Bhojpuri debut with the 2004 film titled Balma Bada Nadaan. In the next few years, she appeared in films such as Nadiya Ke Teer, Gabbar Singh, and Pappu Ke Pyar Ho Gail.
She also began getting offers from Indian TV producers and made her TV debut in 2006, with the pivotal role of Mandodari in the Zee TV series Raavan, based on the life of the Indian mythological villain of the same name. The serial began to be telecast in 2006, and after a moderate initial response, the serial stopped production in 2008. It was also telecast in neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka and Thailand.
In 2008, she appeared in small roles in TV series such as Pari Hoon Main and Ssshhhh...Phir Koi Hai. Simultaneously, she also focused on her Bhojpuri film career.
In 2009, she received her biggest career breakthrough when she was selected to play the lead role of Tapasya Rathore in the Colors TV serial Uttaran. Her role was that of a spoilt girl from a wealthy family. The soap opera was appreciated widely for its socio-cultural significance and raised the issue of the class divide that exists in India. It was, however, criticized for its weak storyline.
Despite that, the show made Rashami Desai a household name in India and in more than a dozen countries where the series was aired. The show ran successfully until 2015, and owing to the show’s commercial success, Rashami became a regular face on Indian TV.
In India, the success of TV stars is generally measured by the frequency of their appearances on Indian reality shows, and Rashami Desai appeared on a lot of them. In 2010, she appeared as a participant on the reality show Meethi Choori No.1, and in the same year, she appeared on the show titled Zara Nachke Dikha.
In the following years, she appeared on comedy shows such as Comedy ka Maha Muqabala and Kahani Comedy Circus Ki.
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In 2012, she participated in the fifth season of the celebrity dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. She was paired with Deepak Singh on the show and emerged as the first runner-up. She had an advantage over the other contestants owing to her background as a professional dancer.
She then participated on another dance reality show Nach Baliye, appearing in its seventh season. She was paired with Nandish Sandhu on the show, and this time, too, she emerged as the first runner-up.
In 2014, she appeared in a single episode of the crime-based series titled Savdhaan India. She then appeared in the drama series Ishq Ka Rang Safed. The show featured her in the role of Tulsi but was canceled after a year.
In 2017, she appeared in a lead role opposite Sidharth Shukla in the drama series Dil Se Dil Tak, which was loosely based on a Hindi film titled Chori Chori Chupke Chupke.
One of her most popular appearances in recent years was on the reality show Bigg Boss 13, on which she emerged as the third runner-up. The show places strangers in the same house and records their behavior on camera. Rashami appeared quite eccentric on the show and was one of its biggest draws. She had many ugly fights with her co-contestants, especially with the eventual winner of the show, Sidharth Shukla.
In 2020, she began appearing in the supernatural soap opera Naagin.
She has won several awards for her performance in Uttaran, such as an Indian Telly Award, two Gold Awards, and an Apsara Award.
Prior to Rashami Desai’s entry on the show Bigg Boss, she had been in a relationship with actor Arhaan Khan. However, she came to know on the show that he was already married and had a kid. She talked things out with him later, and they split.
In 2012, she married her Uttaran co-star Nandish Sandhu, but the couple divorced later.
Her mother was not too happy with her when she entered the Bigg Boss house, but they mended their relationship after the show ended.