Joined: 17 July 2007
We are drama queens: Sakshi Tanwar
KATHMANDU, July 22: A decade ago, Sakshi Tanwar was nobody to many, like most of us. Her father dreamt of her becoming a software consultant. And he invested heavily on her studies in in Software Engineering. She walked around as a free bird with no big dreams. She had options: if she would not be a software consultant, she would pursue either teaching students at a school or a job as civil servant.
And one day she met Ekta Kapoor (of the Balaji Telefilms). After which everything changed for her.
"I sill remember that day nine years ago. As I met Ekta, she offered me the lead role in her serial. I wasn't comfortable in the beginning. She warned me how my life would change in two weeks if I signed her offer," Sakshi reminiscenes.
And it did.
The idea was to accept the challenge of Ekta Kapoor. The debutante accepted the offer and got into her first serial. Her first step to showbiz was called "Kahani Ghar Gharki" (KGGK)
Before KGGK, there were hardly any teleserials on Star Plus channel. A different genre of Hindi soaps including crime investigation and horror used to dominate the evening shows. The household stories of "normal families" were never the content for the television audience. With the arrival of KGGK and "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" ' another Balaji production ' and wave of such women-based family shows the idea of producing such shows was soon adopted by Sony Television, Star's archrival in India. In fact, KGGK was one of the very few teleserials and one by Ekta Kapoor that ran for eight straight years and got the highest TRPs for Star Plus so far. Now Star Plus is entirely known for daily soaps that are based on family dramas and are high on emotive story content. In Nepal, the audience limited itself to Pakistani teleserials shown on Nepal Television (NTV).
Sakshi, more popularly known as Parvati of KGGK, had her role in the serial well received not only in India but also in Nepal. Housewives started to gather around their television every evening and the story content started to dictate the norm and understanding of a middle class urban family. The wives, daughters and mothers fell in love with Tanwar's character, and they made sure that they didn't miss any of the episodes. And if they did, they made sure they were updated with either a re-run or from their "saheli." It was then began the battles between husband and wife, father and mother started to erupt in families across. Men could not stand the soaps while women could not stop gluing themselves to such shows. The intense attraction of the family dramas may have shifted to reality-based shows like Indian Idol and Rakhi ki Swayambher, but the tussle between the men and women for remote control still holds strong.
On her short visit to Kathmandu for the promotion of a women's accessory product, Sakshi Tanwar talked to Republica about the growing popularity of serials in India, its influences, her career and more.
Republica: Just like in India, there are a lot of people in Nepal, too, who love watching Hindi serials. How do you guys make people addicted so much?
Sakshi: See, when KGGK started, we wanted to make sure that we touched everything that happened to one's life. We wanted to deal with human emotions and we wanted to give people different ways of coming out their problems. We largely succeeded. That's why we're loved by so many.
You're talking about going close to reality through serials. You mean to say all that emotional dramas keep on taking place in real life? Often, it's just tragedies in serials.
Don't you think human life is so full of tragedies and miseries? And when it comes to women, it's even more. Isn't it a truth that we go through difficult times more that we come across happiness?
But because of these serials, men are often upset with their wives. Channels like Star Plus and Sony show serials one after the other and mostly during the evenings and men don't get to grab the remote control.
If the remote control is left to your "home minister" just for the evening hours only, what's so wrong about it? [Laughs]. Women look after everything from dawn to night. So let her chill down during the evening, and let her relate her own life and problems to the serials.
You said the kind of family drama serials Star Plus has been coming up with helps people come out of their problems. But there have been much complaints that the same serials add mess to households.
How can you say that? We always show that no matter what, truth wins by the end.
It may be true. But those sisters-in-law, who never fought before, started fighting with each other because they are influenced by Parvati and Pallavi of KGGK going the opposite directions in the serial. They are influenced by their lifestyles, and the accommodation standards your serials often depict. Now they want highly embellished and sophisticated lifestyle, heavy makeup kits, jewelries like you all wear. Even in boutiques, women are found saying 'I want saris like Parvati and Prerana wear in their serials.'
Yes, it's true that women want to look like us, want to dress up stylishly like the actors do in the serial. But what's wrong about that? Women are often tagged with beauty and sensitivity, aren't they? And if so, we ought to be beautiful. Even men want their wives to be like Parvati, a dedicated wife, a good homemaker, a good daughter-in-law, and a responsible mother. But they forget to be like Om (Parvati's husband in KGGK)) ' a complete man in all disciplines. So if you behave like Parvati, your in-laws will get all what you want.
You talk about getting close to reality. Everything's portrayed so picture-perfect in the serials. But don't you think women in real life don't wake up wearing an embroidered sari on and in full makeup even when they are physically ill. Take yourself for example. You must've been 90 to 100 years in KGGK before the serial came to an end. And you still looked like you were in your mid-thirties when you already had you great grandson.
[Laughs aloud] See, somewhere one has to draw the line between fiction and reality. You can't bring a 90-year-old to do the role. Besides, as actors, we come at the last stage of filming. We do have our say but we don't poke into the ideas of producers and directors. All of us are given our jobs. We concentrate on that. Apart from that, there's always good and bad about everything. It's up to you to what you want to take up.
Why do you think almost all Indian serials are so women-oriented? Can't there be serials based on lifestyles of men?
We have to admit that women are very emotional. We're drama queens, and television is a medium for us to get inspiration. We can't be rational like men. We don't understand James Bond coming out and shooting here and there all the time. We want relief, and we look forward to relating ourselves to something that's close to us. So serials are the right platform for women to come up with all that they face in their lives. And there are other reality shows for men on various channels.
Okay, coming to your personal life, KKGK ended more than half a year ago. What next in your career now?
After working for eight years, I surely deserve some rest. I've already worked for Ashutosh Rana's upcoming film "Coffeehouse" and I'm doing the Crime against Women program in Doordarshan. I guess I may not be doing serials again because somewhere in life you need to move in another direction. Let the new generation follow our steps. I'm single and I hope to be like my character in real life too.
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