How much of Ma Anjani has been taken directly from Hindu mythology? How much of it is fiction?
The basics of Maa Anjani's character have been taken from mythology. The mother – son love must have been mentioned in the texts, we have fictionally extended it.
Is it a challenge to play her?
It was initially challenging to play her as this was my first mythological show. However as this was a mother's role it came easily to me.
How did you prepare for the role?
I went through books on Hanumanji and Ma Anjani. Though I am yet to be a mother, I put my own elements of motherhood in the role. I have observed loving mothers, including my own.
What according to you were the pros and cons of the Gurukul system?
We may compare it to a hostel. However the Sanskriti of those times was very different. I think the Gurukul system was quite good as kids learned to fight it out on their own there. They shouldn't be shadowed by their families all the time. They should learn to free themselves of family attachments and be independent. You shouldn't cocoon your children.
Let's say in the modern day a very good boarding school would be similar to the Gurukul system. Would you like Ma Anjani send your kid to a boarding school?
For the first few years I would like my child to be with me. After he is grown a little older and can survive on his own I will give him the choice whether to stay with his parents or leave for boarding school.
How do you bond with Raj Bhanushali, the little boy who plays the child Hanuman?
Initially he was very attached to me. He would be very possessive of me and even after pack up he wanted to be with me. I was like a second mother to him. Therefore the mother and son chemistry came out so well on screen. Now the boy has learnt to be more independent.
Have you met certain very naive fans who get confused when they meet you, when they get to know you are very human and not divine?
Had I been divine I wouldn't have been an actress. I would have lived in an ashram. Viewers are often taken aback when they see me in modern clothes. They exclaim, "You are so different in real life."
You've been playing Maa Anjani for a while now. What do you have to say about the position of Indian women during the Treta Yuga?
Women were highly respected in the Treta Yuga (and all the yugas before Kaliyuga). In fact they were equal to men. It is in the Kaliyuga that women oppression and suppression came in.
Are you a devotee of Hanumanji in real life?
I am not a really a devotee of Hanumanji in real life. However when I was translating the Hanuman Chalisa for my mother-in-law, I coincidentally was offered this show.
When Hanumanji will grow up will your track be less?
Yes. Now as Hanuman is a boy, his mom is growing along with the child. When he becomes an adult my track will be less.
Reporter and Author: Pallavi Bhattacharya