Rupali Ganguly in a still from Anupamaa.
After successful shows like Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai and Yeh Rishtey Hai Pyaar Ke, Rajan Shahi will soon launch Anupamaa on Star Plus. A remake of Bengali drama Sreemoyee, the series will revolve around Anupamaa (played by Rupali Ganguly), who dons multiple hats like any other homemaker, and in return never gets appreciated by her family. In the course of time, she rekindles her passion that leads to a turbulence in her domestic life.
While Sudhanshu Pandey will play the husband, Muskan Bamne, Paras Kalnawat and Aashish Mehrotra will be seen as the couple's children.
With Anupamaa, Rupali Ganguly, who is known for her performance in Sanjivani, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Parvarrish among more, will be making her small screen comeback after a hiatus of seven years.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Ganguly talks about Anupamaa, comparisons with the original show, motherhood and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How does it feel to be back on a television set?
I don't know what has hit me. I have been enjoying my sabbatical too much. And now I have to ask someone to even take out time for myself. There is definitely a slight adjustment issue but I am having a blast. The role is such a fantastic one.
Was it the role that made you chose Anupamaa as your comeback vehicle?
I don't think I could have asked for a better comeback. The story is about a mother, and I don't need to pretend as the character is around my age. On television, women are usually young and hot or old. It is a pleasure to play such a real character. Also, what better way to restart my career than with whom it all started. Rajan Shahi was my first director, and I was his first heroine. We started our innings together, and I feel so proud of all that he has achieved. I really feel blessed to be a part of his show.
Did you have any kind of apprehension in playing a mother to grown-up kids?
Not at all. I really didn't care about the age. I would have agreed even if the kids were shown to be 50. It was the least of my concern. It is a beautiful story of a mother and my worry was to justify Rajan's vision. It is a dream role for any actor. It has romance, emotion, masti - every shade that we see in a human. I cannot believe that a 40 plus woman is being shown as the protagonist on Indian television.
Did you watch Indrani Halder's performance as Sreemoyee to get the hang of the character?
No because I didn't want to get stuck on how I want to play it. I wanted Anupamaa to be my interpretation, and I also had a fantastic director in Romesh Kalra. The script has also been written wonderfully. It is quite fast paced compared to the regional dramas. Both Sreemoyee and Aai Kuthe Kay Karte, the Marathi version, have been toppers in TRP charts. There's nothing bigger than a mother's emotions, and I am sure the Hindi audience will also enjoy watching it.
The cast of Star Plus' Anupamaa.
The debate around characters missing a 'woman gaze' happens quite often in films. Do you feel television presents female characters in a much better way?
It is not just female characters but every part has been beautifully etched in our show. Even the house help has a lovely track coming up. This is a very performance and content oriented show. After a very long time, one will get to see something like this on television.
But in recent times, we have seen content-driven shows unable to find an audience.
One has to keep trying to be not part of the same thing. Also, it's easier to have costumes and huge sets to make a mark but really difficult to tell a simple story. Anupamaa revolves around a regular middle-class family devoid of any kind of fanfare. Our challenge is to make people fall in love with us. I have been an audience for the last seven years, and I am always on the lookout for different content. I don't like watching the same kind of stories all the time. This show is about mothers and housewives, who are taken for granted, and I am sure it will resonate with every individual.
Did playing the part make you more aware about your mother?
I would give the world for mom. But it’s also the moms who we tend to get irritated with when they touch our stuff, or we tend to hang up the phone when we are busy. I think we all are guilty of that. I am hoping that after watching Anupamaa, every child will call their mother, and even husbands their wives, and speak to them. I remember, recently my six-year-old son told me that since I am busy working, he will go on a holiday with his father. I felt so hurt that my child doesn't need me anymore, even when it has not even been a month that I have started working again. So when you become a mother, you start appreciating your moms more. And with our show, we hope we can even make people, who haven't stepped into parenthood, realise the importance of mothers.
How did your husband react to you rejoining work?
It all happened so fast. Honestly, I was a little sceptical of doing the show. I have been a hands-on mom. My mother-in-law is quite old, and I also look after the business along with my husband. So the day I met Rajan Shahi, I asked Ashwin what should I do. He instantly replied why am I even pondering over it. He said it is a role of a lifetime, and while you have done shows, it has never been about you. His confidence and assurance made me say yes. He just asked me to make him proud.
Finally, how's the bond with the team? How did you all break the ice?
I am a fun loving person, and always feel that one should laugh to make friends. I have known Sudhanshu Pandey and we have met a couple of times. So we didn't need to break the ice. Any way he doesn't like me on the show, so we didn't need to become friends (laughs). The kids are really sweet and we gelled instantly. They have become my social media gurus and are teaching me Instagram these days. Everyone is very sweet and such fantastic actors.