Interestingly, it is the first time in a long time that she's doing a show outside Hats Off production house. The child in her, still alive and kicking, thrives to explore new waters. It is the simplicity and the strength of the character that has prompted her to take up the role of Nivedita's grandmother.
What prompted you to take up this role?
It was worth the wait as I haven't made any appearance for three months after Baa Bahu Aur Baby ended. I didn't like the roles that were being offered It's actually very pleasing for any artiste to receive a challenging and good role and like any other actor, I too wanted to do something different. Rajan Shahi has earned a place for himself in the industry. Also, the show is being aired on STAR Plus with whom my association goes a long way. I also like the character that I am going to play.
Baa was a very strong character as she was the decision maker of the family. How different is Baa from dadi ma in Chaand Chhupa Baadal Mein?
Baa was strong as she was the protagonist and had to be portrayed in a certain manner. As the name says, Baa, Bahoo and Baby were the central characters and the entire story revolved around them. The show would be incomplete without any of these three characters. You have seen my roles and heard me speak. I speak simple language like any other Mumbaikar in all the shows that I have been a part of. But this show is again different for me as an actor and when you get a potential role like this, you break out of your comfort zone and push yourself hard to make it look convincing on screen.
The character of Dadi is not a conventional role. She is different from the grannies you get to see on-screen or in real life. She believes in modern ideology and is someone who understands her children, supports them and guides them. She strongly believes that one shouldn't depend on others in life. You have to find your own path and reach your destination without expecting any kind of support. You are the one who can change your life, persuade it and act accordingly. Trust your conscience and follow your instincts, you will be fine, are some of the mantras that dadi ma follows.
What was the most challenging aspect of this role?
The language that has been very challenging for me. Rajan had specially got a teacher from Shimla to teach me the language and I am very comfortable with it now. We have studied the character in depth, keeping in mind the accent. There are lots of words that we are not used to pronouncing or even hearing in our daily life, which you will see me utter in this show.
What equation does the protagonist Nivedita share with you on the show?
She is very close to me as she doesn't have a mother. I am like a maternal figure to her. There is this one very nice dialogue from the serial: "Mein tumhari Maa nahi ban sakti. Par yahi toh sachchai hai. Maa ki jagah lena kissi ke liye bhi moomkeen nahi hai. Maa jaisa hona mushkil hai. Bin maa ke baache kitna pyaar maangte hai." (I can't be a mother to you and this is the truth. It is impossible for anyone to take place of your mother. A motherless child always demands more love).
You think it will be easy for you to shed the image of Baa which has got imprinted in the minds of the viewers?
This is an issue that every actor faces after he becomes famous for a particular role and they struggle to form another image, which is very challenging. You have seen the Baa from Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu thi. She was old, grumpy and unique in her own ways. The Baa that I play on this show is completely different from hers. She was very strong from within. The role is as powerful as of a lead actress. That's the reason why I've accepted this role. I did receive a lot of roles similar to that of Baa Bahoo Aur Baby but I didn't accept them.
When you flip the TV channels, you will come across hordes of characters similar to that of Baa. Their body language and mannerisms is like that of Baa from Baa Bahoo Aur Baby. I didn't want to become a part of the crowd and do similar roles. I desired something different. As Nivedita's granny I want to explain that people who have mothers don't value them and I try to become a mother to my grandchildren as they have lost their mother.
The second season of Baa Bahu Aur Baby didn't turn out to be a success. What do you think was the reason behind the debacle?
I can't really point out the exact reasons which resulted in the failure of the second season of Baa Bahoo Aur Baby. The show aired on weekends and many times the show made way for some awards and events, so maybe the viewers that we had started shifting to other shows. After all, it's just a button that you have to press and they forget you. So we decided that before people completely forget us, we better disappear gracefully. I really appreciate the efforts made by everyone on the show. Baa is still alive in hearts of people and will always be.
You have worked in movies, plays and TV serials for over a decade. Do you feel in terms of content of the shows have been turning gaudy?
No, I totally disagree. If we talk about television, everyone from Hrishikesh Mukherjee to Sameer Chaudhary has worked with passion. There have been lots of good shows like Buniyaad, C.I.D., Baa Bahu Aur Baby, Khichidi, Bidaai etc. There is definitely something that make viewers still watch them. And why do we think that it's only the people who watch television in the city? They reach the homes of people across the country. If we do a study of the shows on television, a lot of them have come and gone. There are shows even in regional languages too. For instance, there is Pratigya who can make people ignite and touch everyone's heart.
We talk about modern civilization and society, but then why do we keep on showing the same shows over and over again?
Pardon me but our society is what? Women are still suppressed in this country. Don't see the girls from metro cities like Mumbai and Delhi. If you happen to go further North like Simla, you will still find those old customs and practices still prevalent. A woman doesn't have a freedom of speech even in front of her own man.
What shows do you like to follow on television?
I am a person who follows mythology. But Buniyaad has always been my favourite show. I used to watch it a lot.
In one of your recent interviews you had mentioned that during your free time you like to watch television a lot. What shows have impressed you from the recent times?
I loved watching Jhansi Ki Rani because she epitomizes the strength of a lady but I don't get to follow it anymore. I also used to follow Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Kijo and Laado. I liked Pratigya too and now I have started liking Behenein on STAR Plus.
Why is that on television it's always a female who is an enemy of another female?
Aare Bhai! But isn't this what really happens in our society? For example, one female would envy another female for the colour of her lipstick and the dress she dons (laughs).