Joined: 30 March 2004
Interview with actor Sudha Shivpuri (Baa)
Sudha Shivpuri as Baa in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
At 65, she is blazing guns in arguably the most popular serial in the history of Indian television. There is hardly a day when she does not appear in your drawing room at 10.30 pm. I have a few works lined up, but still reach a trifle late for my tryst with the lady. Blame it on the dug up roads and traffic jams in aamchi Mumbai.
"Come in. Don't start off a long apology on why you are not on time. Who doesn't get late here? I understand," she says with a beaming smile. An artistic wall-portrait of her late husband smiles in the background.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome senior citizen Sudha Shivpuri, wife of the late Om Shivpuri and mother of actor Ritu Shivpuri.
Excerpts from an interview with Vickey Lalwani:
How did you get into acting?
I was in the eighth standard. My father had passed away and my mother had to run the house. One day, she fell very ill. And I thought I had to do my bit to bring in some money. Surely, the kitchen fires could not be extinguished! I first started with plays.
Then I switched over to Jaipur Radio, which had just begun in those days (1955). Later, I joined the National School of Drama (NSD). By that time, I had met Om. In fact, we had worked together on radio and in plays. Even at NSD, we were together- in the same batch! We fell in love. We married, but not before we had waited for nine years (1968). After that, we started a theatre group Dishantar, which did so well that tickets were sold in black for almost every show.
We shifted to Mumbai in 1974. Om was getting offers in lots of films. He was doing three shifts a day! At that time, our first child Ritu was two years old. Somehow, even I started doing films- Swami, Insaaf Ka Tarazu, Hamari Bahu Alka, Saawan Ko Aane Do, Sun Meri Laila, Burning Train, Vidhaata..... I was also offered a few serials at that time. Like I did Aa Bail Mujhe Maar and a few episodes of Rajni, in which I played Priya Tendulkar's mother-in-law.
Suddenly, I thought I should focus on one stream. I used to reach the film sets at 9.30 am, the hero and the heroine used to strut in at 12.30 pm. Everybody used to get excited and call for a lunch break! One scene after the lunch break, and it's tea time! Maybe a scene after that and maybe not, it's pack-up time! I decided that focussing on television would be more sensible.
My husband was doing well enough for all of us. I began to think: Why should I neglect my child and cool my heels on film sets? Besides, I was never the ambitious type. I started going slow on films and got pregnant with my second baby.
After the second child (son), I was almost entirely devoted to the family. Suddenly Om passed away, my daughter was 18 and my son was 13. This was in 1990.
To keep something going, I started an acting class. I even tried my hand at opening a general store. Neither of these worked. I shut them down and decided to go back to acting.
How did the second innings begin?
Through a coordinator. I landed roles in a few episodes of Missing and Rishtey. Those days were not easy. You know how it is when you want to work but don't have anything. But in my heart of hearts, I knew that this was a lull before the storm. Something had to happen. And it did! One fine day, I got a call from Balaji Telefilms.
And you met Ekta Kapoor?
(smiles) Right. She asked me if I was game to playing a mother-in-law in Bandhan. I had no qualms. Five months later, she approached me for Kyunki...... My joy knew no bounds when I learnt that I was going to play the head of a big family.
Big family alright, but does such unity exist in today's times?
Even if it doesn't, we have succeeded in making people realise values and relationships. Many nuclear families which were earlier joint are going joint again, families have written to me that they have imbibed a lot of moral values from this serial.
At 65, how do you maintain the stamina needed for the rigorous demands of a daily and do other serials as well?
As for my stamina, I think we all have the stamina for everything, provided we have the inclination. The inclination, however, stems if and only if you are enjoying your work. As of today, I am passionately in love with my work. I have not refused any work of late. Refuse karne ki gunjayish hi nahi thi. Thanks to my beautifully sketched character in Kyunki...., nobody now offers me any insignificant stuff.
Still, how do you adjust with dates? A daily requires you to be on the sets for at least 20 days.
Why do you consider your character to be beautifully sketched?
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