Posted: 01 April 2006 at 10:30am | IP Logged
Why'd people pay to see Tulsi
by Subhash K Jha
Her birthday last week was like any working day for television's most beloved icon Smriti Irani.
"I took my daughter to dance rehearsals in the morning, brought her
home and then went shooting. I was home by afternoon. So I managed to
reduce the day to a semi-workingday. Then I pretended to be oblivious
to my husband Zuben's plans for a surprise birthday party. But by
afternoon when I came home I was so tired, having worked non-stop for
six months, that I almost dozed off."
Six years ago on her birthday Smriti had signed a contract with Balajee for Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
a tribute to that relationship I always work on my serial on my
birthday. I need to remind myself how grateful I am to have landed
myself such a splendid life-making job. There were many candidates to
play Tulsi. I guess I was just lucky to get it."
gets reflective on her birthday. "What these thirty years and specially
the last six years have taught me is to keep my feet firmly planted to
the ground. Zameen se
rishta-naata nahin todni chahiye. Udna asaan hai zameen pe tikey rehna bahut mushqil.
My family always told me…no matter where you go never forget where
you belong..never be ashamed of your roots. So many people tell me to hide my penny-less past.
But I feel it's a matter of pride that I gave up my parents' cushy
life to struggle on my own. I chose to do it on my own. For me, that's an achievement."
Considering she plays a much older woman on Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu
Thi is it a surprise for her fans when they realize how young she
really is? "More like a shock," she laughs.
"They can't believe it at first. I'd say it's a
tribute to my acting talent that Ekta Kapoor considers me capable of
playing a much older woman day-in and day-out. While others try to beat
the clock, I'm actually running ahead of my times."
Now with a generation leap happening on Balajee's most beloved soap,
Smriti will play an even older woman. "I don't know what Ekta's plans
are. In my six years at Balajee I've never asked her what plans she has
for me or the soap. They've been so good for me so far. I'm sure
they'll be good to me in future as well. I know I can never get tired
Ekta is smart enough to not make the serial or me
boring. I know she'll never make me a lampshade in the corner of the
set. She knows my worth. As long as they pose a challenge for me, I'm
Not too many people are aware Smriti has done a socially relevant talk show Kuch Dil Se and she owns a production company.
"I'm doing a Gujarati play Manibehn.com which has completed
seventy-five shows in just two months. I play this totally uncouth
woman who doesn't know the 'e' of the English language. It's quite a
challenge. But a satisfying experience.
The biggest challenge in theatre is to not only please the critics but also have audiences on your side. I think I've managed
that with Manibehn.com. That apart I've my political office, plus two feature films, one in Bengali and one in Gujarati."
About her two movies… "Very honestly speaking, I'm not interested in
playing Tulsi in films. Don't I do enough of that on television? If I
take up a film it'll have to pose a challenge beyond what I'm doing. In
the Bengali film I play this very angry physically handicapped jealous
and petty woman.
The Bengali role is radically different to my TV image. The language
won't be a problem, because my mom is a Bengali. The Gujarati film is a
typical masala film. I've never done anything so commercial before. It
has me in a before-and-after role--two distinct shades for the two
The idea is to do something different in films. Otherwise why would people spend money
to watch me in a movie theatre when they can see me for free at home? I can't possibly do mirror-reflections of Tulsi in films."
She takes a deep breath. "Then in April I'm co-producing some tv
software with Balajee Telefilms. Then in May the Kyunkii….team goes to
Hardwar…Yes it's full plate. But better than having an empty plate."