Rashami Desai

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Rashami Desai
Desai in 2022 at Lokmat Stylish Awards
Shivani Desai

(1986-02-13) 13 February 1986 (age 37)
Nagaon, Assam, India
Other namesDivya Desai
Rashami Desai
Years active2002–present
Notable work
(m. 2012; div. 2016)

Shivani Desai (born 13 February 1986), professionally known as Rashami Desai, is an Indian actress who predominantly works in Hindi television.[1] She is the recipient of several accolades including two Indian Television Academy Awards and Gold Awards. She has established herself as one of the most popular and highest-paid actresses on television.[2]

After starting her acting career working in regional language films, Desai made her Hindi television debut with Ravan (2006) and then had a dual role in Pari Hoon Main (2008). She earned massive popularity with her notable work as Tapasya Thakur in Colors TV's long-running soap opera Uttaran (2009-2014), winning various accolades. Desai also took part in the reality shows Zara Nachke Dikha 2 (2010), Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 5 (2012), Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 6 (2015) and Nach Baliye 7 (2015) and had a cameo in the 2012 film Dabangg 2. She ventured into stand-up comedy with reality shows like Comedy Circus Mahasangram (2010), Comedy Ka Maha Muqabala (2011), Kahaani Comedy Circus Ki (2012) and Comedy Nights Live (2016).

Desai later returned to fiction television with the love triangle Dil Se Dil Tak (2017-2018) portraying the role of Shorvori, after which she participated in Bigg Boss 13 (2019–2020) and Bigg Boss 15 (2021–2022). In this period, she also played brief roles in Naagin 4 and Naagin 6, and made her OTT debut with the short film Tamas and web debut with Tandoor.

Early life[edit]

Rashami Desai was born Shivani Desai[1][3] on 13 February 1986[4][5][6][7] in Nagaon town of Assam.[8][6] She is a Gujarati by origin.[9] She has a brother, Gaurav Desai. Desai was brought up in Mumbai and did her schooling and undergraduation there.[10] Rashami pursued a diploma degree in Tours and Travels from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai.


Acting debut in films (2002–2006)[edit]

Desai began her acting career with regional films where she appeared in an Assamese-language film titled Kanyadaan in 2002. Desai made her Bollywood debut with Birendra Nath Tiwari-directed 2004 romantic mystery Yeh Lamhe Judaai Ke alongside Shah Rukh Khan and Raveena Tandon. She essayed the role of Sheetal, a college student whose elder sister (played by Tandon) is murdered.[11][12]

In 2005, Desai appeared in the Hindi film Shabnam Mausi, where she played the role of Naina alongside Ashutosh Rana and Vijay Raaz.[13] She later earned fame in the Bhojpuri film industry where she played many roles in the films like Balma Bada Nadaan and Gabbar Singh. In 2005, Desai starred in the film Kab Hoi Gauna Hammar, that went on to win the National Award for Best Feature Film in Bhojpuri.[14][15]

Television debut and breakthrough (2006–2008)[edit]

Desai made her television debut in 2006 with the mythological drama series Ravan on Zee TV, where she played the role of Queen Mandodari. Desai was cast opposite Jay Soni in the series.[16] In 2007, Desai appeared in the English film titled Sambar Salsa.

In 2008, Desai got her first big break in daily soaps that fetched her the limelight with her portrayal of the dual role of Nikki Shrivastav and Pari Rai Choudhary in Star One's Pari Hoon Main.[17][18] Directed and produced by Ravi Chopra, the series also featured Mohit Malik and Karan Veer Mehra in pivotal roles. The show followed the story of two look-alikes; Pari (an actress) and Nikki (a simple girl) who bump into each other, exchange their identities, and begin living each other's lives.[19] Desai then appeared as Priya in Star One's horror thriller anthology series Ssshhhh...Phir Koi Hai alongside Manish Paul.

Established success with Uttaran (2009–2016)[edit]

In 2009, Desai briefly appeared in Meet Mila De Rabba aired on Sony TV where she played the role of Dr. Meher Datta alongside Surilie Gautam and Piyush Sahdev.[citation needed]

Desai at Indian Telly Awards 2010, where she received the award for Best Actress in a Negative Role for her work in Uttaran

Desai earned widespread acclaim and recognition upon entering Colors TV's long-running soap opera Uttaran in 2009, where she played the parallel lead alongside Tina Datta and Nandish Sandhu. The series followed the story of two friends, Ichcha and Tapasya, who hail from different strata of the society. Desai replaced Ishita Panchal to play the role of adult Tapasya Thakur, a rich girl who gets manipulated by her maternal grandmother upon feeling less loved than her friend by her own parents.[citation needed] Uttaran opened up newer international markets for Indian Television, making Desai a household name beyond the country's shores.[20] For Uttaran, Desai received numerous accolades and nominations including the ITA Award for Best Actress Popular and Indian Telly Award for Best Actress in a Negative Role Popular in 2010. In January 2012 she opted out of the show. On 7 November 2012, she returned to Uttaran with positive shades, and left the show again in 2014 citing creative differences.[21][22]

In 2010, Desai participated in Sony TV's comedy reality TV show Comedy Circus 3 Ka Tadka as a wildcard entrant with Vikrant Massey.[citation needed] Desai then participated as a member of the team "Massakalli Girls" in season 2 of the dance reality television show Zara Nachke Dikha which aired on Star Plus. Her team emerged as winners.[23] In the same year, Desai also appeared as panellist in Imagine TV's reality show Meethi Choori No 1 and participated in Sony TV's comedy reality show Comedy Circus Mahasangram.[24]

In 2011, Desai participated in StarPlus's comedy reality TV show Comedy Ka Maha Muqabala, where her team emerged as runner-ups.

In 2012, Desai appeared as Shivani in the Vikram Bhatt-directed horror anthology series Haunted Nights, aired on Sahara One.[citation needed] She then participated in the dance reality TV show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 5 which aired on Colors TV[25] and ultimately emerged as the first runner up. She also appeared on the Shekhar Suman hosted show Movers & Shakers.[26] Later in 2012, Desai made a cameo appearance in the Salman Khan starrer Hindi film Dabangg 2.

In 2013, Desai played the part of Natkhat Sali in Colors TV's stand-up comedy show Nautanki: The Comedy Theatre.[27]

In 2014, Desai appeared as a victim of blind faith and a woman who is tortured by her own family in the episode-based shows Savdhaan India[citation needed] and CID[28] respectively.

In 2015, Desai participated in Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 6. She was eliminated, but was brought back on the show as a wild card entrant.[29] She was again eliminated just before the finale along with Sana Khan.[30] She then participated in Nach Baliye 7 with her then spouse Nandish Sandhu and they became first runners-up.[31] In October 2015, Desai appeared as a deaf and mute girl in Palash Muchhal's music video titled Teri Ek Hassi alongside Nandish Sandhu. It was sung by Jubin Nautiyal.[32] Later in the year, Desai briefly appeared in Colors TV's Ishq Ka Rang Safed where she played the grey role of Tulsi, a widow with hidden motives.[33]

In 2016, Desai essayed the negative role of dark supernatural character Preeti in &TV's Adhuri Kahaani Hamari.[34] She also participated in Box Cricket League in March 2016. Desai then appeared in Palash Muchhal's dance based music video titled Sajna Ve alongside Salman Yusuff Khan. It was sung by Monali Thakur and Dilip Soni.[35] Desai then participated in Balaji Telefilms' comedy reality show Mazaak Mazaak Mein, aired on Life OK.[36] Desai also completed the 2016 anthology drama film Rare & Dare Six-X, that also starred Rituparna Sengupta and Shweta Tiwari in important roles.[37]

Dil Se Dil Tak and beyond (2017–2020)[edit]

Desai at Golden Petal Awards 2017, where she was nominated under Best Actress Category for her work in Dil Se Dil Tak

In 2017, Desai starred in Colors TV's drama series Dil Se Dil Tak, opposite Sidharth Shukla and Jasmin Bhasin. Desai was cast in the role of Shorvari Bhanushali, a woman caught between love for her husband and her desire to be a mother.[38] The series was loosely based on the Hindi film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (2001).[39] Desai described her role as someone who "doesn't express through words. She uses gestures, eyes and her facial expressions to express what she is feeling. That is interesting. In fact, as an actor, this gives me a lot of scope for performance.".[40] For her role in the series, she was nominated under Best Actress category at Golden Petal Awards 2017.[41]

In the same year, Desai made her Gujarati film debut with Bhavin Wadia's romantic thriller Superstar, where she was cast opposite Dhruvin Shah.[42][43]

Desai began 2019 with the lead role in DD National's comedy series Chalo Saaf Karein. Launched by Doordarshan along with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the show revolved around cleanliness and sanitation with a comic twist.[44] Desai played the role of Palak, an ambitious Delhi University graduate and a strong follower of Gandhian ideology and Swachhta, who intends to open a residential English medium school in her village.[citation needed] The series also featured Ashish Lal, Aruna Irani and Anita Raj in pivotal roles.[45] Later in the year, Desai participated in the reality show Bigg Boss 13, where she finished as third runner up.[46][47]

In 2020, Desai essayed the role of Shalaka on Colors TV's supernatural fantasy thriller television series Naagin 4: Bhagya Ka Zehreela Khel alongside Nia Sharma, Anita Hassanandani and Vijayendra Kumeria.[48] Desai next appeared in the short film Tamas alongside Adhvik Mahajan, where she played the role of Sania[49] and participated in Ladies vs Gentlemen, a reality interactive game show hosted by Ritesh Deshmukh and Genelia D'Souza in the same year.[50] In December 2020, Desai featured in Palash Muchhal's dance based music video titled Ab Kya Jaan Legi Meri alongside Shaheer Sheikh and Sana Saeed. It was sung by Palash Muchhal and Amit Mishra.[51]

Professional expansion (2021–present)[edit]

In 2021, Desai made her web debut alongside Tanuj Virwani in Nivedita Basu-directed crime drama web series titled Tandoor. Loosely based on the infamous Tandoor case in Delhi, Desai essayed the role of Palak Sahni, an aspiring politician who is murdered by her own husband (played by Virwani).[52][53] In May 2021, it was announced that Desai will collaborate with singer Rahul Vaidya for a music cover.[54] In September 2021, Desai appeared in Altamash Faridi's music video titled Subhan Allah.[55] Later in the year, Desai collaborated with Rahul Vaidya again for a music video titled Zindagi Khafa Khafa.[56] In November 2021, Desai entered Bigg Boss 15 as a wildcard contestant and became the fifth runner-up.[57]

Desai in 2021

In March 2022, Desai featured in three music videos titled Qatilana, Biraj Mein Jhoom and Tere Pind.[58][59][60] She then entered Naagin 6 for a cameo to portray the dual role shape-shifting serpents, reprising the role of Shalaka from season 4 with positive shades, and a new character Shanglira.[61] In April 2022, Desai collaborated with Neha Bhasin for a music video titled Parwah.[62]

Desai next appeared as the titular character of the segment Ruby in the second season of Anil V Kumar's anthology series Ratri Ke Yatri. Also featuring Abigail Pande and Mohit Abrol in Desai's segment, the series throws an empathetic light on women from red light areas.The show premiered on Hungama Play and MX Player on 11 October 2022.[63]

As of May 2023, Desai has shot for Anup Thapa's Hindi film titled Mission Laila alongside Rajpal Yadav.[64] Desai has also shot for Hindi film titled Hisaab Barabar in pivotal role alongside R. Madhavan.[65][better source needed][66] She has signed her second Gujarati film titled Mom Tane Nai Samjay, also featuring Amar Upadhyay. Helmed by Dharmesh Mehta, the film is being shot in London.[67] She's also set to make her Punjabi feature film debut alongside Nav Bajwa with the romantic comedy titled Chambe Di Booti.[68] She's also committed to appear in a brief role in the upcoming JioCinema series titled LLB - Naam Hi Kaafi Hai.[69]

Off-screen work and media image[edit]

Desai is a trained classical dancer.[70] Writing for The Indian Express, journalist Sana Farzeen stated: "Not someone to play the perfect heroine, Rashami has experimented with her roles and played strong characters."[71] Apart from acting, Desai supports various causes. Desai walked the ramp at Caring with Style fashion show to raise money for cancer patients in 2015[72] and 2018[73] for designers Shaina NC and Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla respectively. In 2015, she walked the ramp of a fashion show to support Smile Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working towards underprivileged children's education and health.[citation needed] Desai also walked the ramp for Terry Fox Foundation and Maheka Mirpuri.[74] Desai was part of the Swachh Survekshan 2017, an initiative for an environmentally cleaner India (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan).[75]

Desai walked the ramp for designers Rohit Verma and Anu Mehra at Bombay Times Fashion Week in 2020[76] and 2021.[77]

In 2013, 2014 and 2018, she was among the highest-paid television actresses of India.[78] As per reports, Desai was also the highest paid contestant in Bigg Boss 13 and Bigg Boss 15.[79] In 2020, Desai became the first Indian Television actor to collaborate with Google for cameos.[80] Desai was ranked 22nd in BizAsia's list of top 30 TV Personalities in 2020.[81]

Desai endorsed Wheel alongside Salman Khan in 2010.[82] In 2021, Desai became the brand ambassador of JioMart.[83] Desai also endorses Hangyo.[84][85]

Personal life[edit]

Desai with her ex-husband Nandish Sandhu

She married her co-star from Uttaran, Nandish Sandhu, on 12 February 2011 in Ghaziabad.[86] In 2014, they separated, and in 2015, the couple filed for divorce after almost four years of marriage.[87] It was finalised in March 2016.[88]

In 2018, Desai met Arhaan Khan, they both participated in Bigg Boss 13 in 2019, where Arhaan proposed to Desai, and Desai accepted the proposal.[89] Later, it was revealed by Salman Khan that Arhaan was married before and had a kid which he had kept secret from Desai.[90] In 2020, after coming out from the Bigg Boss house, Desai broke up with Arhaan.[91][92]



Year Title Role Language Notes Ref(s)
2002 Kanyadaan Assamese Cameo [93]
2003 Balma Bada Nadaan Gauri/Jugni Bhojpuri
Maai Re Karde Bidaai Hamaar Kiran
Kab Hoi Gauna Hammar Gauri National Award for Best Feature Film in Bhojpuri [14][15]
2004 Yeh Lamhe Judaai Ke Sheetal Hindi Credited as Divya Desai
Tulsi Bhojpuri
Sohagan Bana Da Sajana Hamaar
2005 Gazab Bhail Rama Gauri/Jyoti
Nadiya Ke Teer Radha
Dulha Babu Jyoti
Bandan Toote Na
Shabnam Mausi Naina Hindi
2006 Hum Balbrahma Chaari Tu Kanya Kumari Jamuna Bhojpuri
Bambai Ki Laila Chapra Ka Chaila
Kable Aayee Bahaar Anu
Kangna Khanke Piya Ke Angna Maya
Pappu Ke Pyar Ho Gail Priya
Sathi Sanghati Radha
Tohse Pyar Ba Shefali
2007 Sambar Salsa English
Hum Hai Gawaar Preeti Bhojpuri
2008 Gabbar Singh Special appearance in holi song
Pyar Jab Kehu Se Hoi Jala Sangeeta
Shahar Wali Jaan Mareli Pammi
Umariya Kaili Tohre Naam Radha
2010 Laakhon Mein Ek Hamaar Bhauji Gauri
Kanoon Hamra Mutthi Mein Pooja
2012 Dabangg 2 Bride Hindi Cameo appearance in the song "Dagabaaz Re"
2016 Rare And Dare Six X Shweta Bhardwaj Hindi Unreleased [94]
2017 Superstar Anjali Kapadia Gujarati
2020 Tamas Saina/Sania Hindi/Urdu Short film [95]
2024 Mission Laila Miesha Hindi [96]
Hisaab Barabar Monalisa Hindi [65][better source needed]
Mom Tane Nai Samjay Aashka Gujarati [97]
Chambe Di Booti TBA Punjabi [98]

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2021 Tandoor Palak Sahni/Palak Sharma [99]
2022 Ratri Ke Yatri Ruby [100]
2023 LLB - Naam Hi Kaafi Hai Preeti [69]


Year Title Role Notes
2006–2008 Raavan Mandodari
2008 Pari Hoon Main Pari Rai Choudhary/Nikki Shrivastav
Ssshhhh...Phir Koi Hai Priya
2009 Meet Mila De Rabba Dr. Meher Datta
2009–2014 Uttaran Tapasya Thakur
2010 Comedy Circus 3 Ka Tadka Contestant
Meethi Choori No 1 Panelist
Zara Nachke Dikha 2 Contestant Winner
Comedy Circus Ke SuperStars Host
2011 Comedy Ka Maha Muqabala Arshad Ke Punters Member Runner-up
2012 Haunted Nights Shivani
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 5 Contestant 1st runner-up
2013 Nautanki: The Comedy Theatre Natkhat Sali
2014 CID Sakshi
Savdhaan India Aanchal/Mata
2015 Nach Baliye 7 Contestant 1st runner-up
Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 6 9th place
Ishq Ka Rang Safed Tulsi
Romansa Cinta Uttaran Tapasya
2016 Adhuri Kahani Hamari Preeti
Box Cricket League 2 Contestant
Mazaak Mazaak Mein
2017–2018 Dil Se Dil Tak Shorvori Bhattacharya
2017 Rasoi Ki Jung Mummyon Ke Sung Contestant
2019 Chalo Saaf Karein Palak
2019–2020 Bigg Boss 13 Contestant 3rd runner-up
2020 Naagin 4 Nayantara/Shalaka
Ladies vs Gentlemen Panelist
2021–2022 Bigg Boss 15 Contestant 5th runner-up
2022 Naagin 6 Shanglira/Shalaka

Special appearances[edit]

Year Title Role
2011 Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4 Herself
Dance India Dance 3
Ratan Ka Rishta
2012 Bigg Boss 5
Movers & Shakers
2013 Bigg Boss 6
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 6
Comedy Nights with Kapil
2014 Nach Baliye 6
Comedy Nights with Kapil
2015 Jamai Raja
Farah Ki Daawat
Comedy Nights with Kapil
2016 Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani
Comedy Nights Live
2017 Bigg Boss 10
Ek Shringaar-Swabhiman Shorvari
Shakti – Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki
Bigg Boss 11 Herself
Entertainment Ki Raat
2018 Tu Aashiqui Shorvori
Belan Wali Bahu
MTV Ace of Space 1 Herself
Naagin 3
2019 Khatra Khatra Khatra
Kitchen Champion 5
2020 Mujhse Shaadi Karoge
Naagin 5 Shalaka
2021 Bigg Boss 14 Herself
2021 Bigg Boss OTT
2022 The Khatra Khatra Show
2023 Entertainment Ki Raat Housefull

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Singer(s) Ref.
2015 Teri Ek Hassi Jubin Nautiyal [101]
2016 Sajna Ve Monali Thakur and Dilip Soni [102]
2020 Ab Kya Jaan Legi Meri Palash Muchhal and Amit Mishra [103]
2021 Kinna Sona Rahul Vaidya [104]
Subhan Allah Altamash Faridi [105]
Zindagi Khafa Khafa Rahul Vaidya [106]
2022 Qatilana Ajay Keswani and Aakansha Sharma [107]
Biraj Mein Jhoom Anuradha Palakurthi Juju [108]
Tere Pind Gurlez Akhtar and Fateh Shergill [109]
Parwah Neha Bhasin [110]
Khayalat Faisla Khan [111]
2023 Pyaar Eda Da Jyoti Nooran [112]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film/Show Result Ref(s)
2009 Indian Telly Awards Popular Actor in Negative Role (Female) Uttaran Nominated [113]
Indian Television Academy Awards GR8! Ensemble Cast Won [114]
2010 Best Actress (Popular) Won [115]
Indian Telly Awards Most Popular Actor in a Negative Role (Female) Won [116]
BIG Star Entertainment Awards Most Entertaining Actor Female Nominated [117]
Gold Awards Best Actor in a Negative Role (Female) Won [118]
2011 Star Guild Awards Best Actor-Female in a Drama Series Nominated [citation needed]
FICCI Frames Excellence Awards Best TV Actor (Female) Won [119]
Apsara Awards Best Ensemble Cast Won [120]
Gold Awards Best Actor Female (Popular) Nominated [121]
Best Actress (Critics) Won [122]
2012 Apsara Awards Best Actress in Drama Series Nominated [123]


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