There have been so many inspiring women who have made an impact on us with their stories on-screen. And while Bollywood is a different story on this subject, on Television one such show that has been an instrument of change for the women with its narrative has been the Rupali Ganguly starrer Anupamaa. Being on the most popular shows on TV, there is an interesting journey it has not, in fact, not just its maker Rajan Shahi, but for Rupali also Anupamaa is an emotion.
So, on International Women's Day, I decided to speak to the actress playing this titular role about the show, the way it has portrayed women, and lots more. Read on...
So Rupali, tell me in this day and age to what extent is a character like Anupamaa relatable?
We call ourselves emancipated women of today’s age, but let’s not forget, there are a lot of women like Anupamaa. I see my mother, my maasi, or all the women I know whose entire world revolves around their husbands and children, who probably gave up their hopes and ambitions in life, and worked to being the perfect housewife, mother and everything. When I took up Anupamaa it was the most relevant thing, it was about building up a journey for women after divorce. It is an honor to be a part of such writing. Anupamaa is a thought process that comes from Rajan (Shahi) and his team. Women are the most unsung heroes in everybody’s life, we love our mothers a lot, but we also snap at them at the slightest. If your boss and mother call you at the same time, you will give priority to your boss and not your mother that was something we needed people to think about.
I feel there is an Anupamaa in every house in India, what do you think?
Anupamaa is all our mothers, my mom is also like that. She cannot speak English, she is not much educated, when I was in school I used to be embarrassed and tell her not to speak English in front of my friends, but when I shot for the first promo of Anupamaa where my daughter Paakhi tells me don’t come to school I am embarrassed of you, I went to my mother and cried. For me, Anupamaa has become an emotion now.
Is there anything specific from the show that has stayed with you?
When the divorce track was happening, it was surprisingly the women on the sets who said you shouldn’t divorce. They were like even if he has cheated, what will happen if you forgive him once. That is such a weird thought process, women in our country are conditioned like that, ki pati kuch bhi kare, maaf kardo. Not that I have anything against the women who are living this kind of life. When Anupama got divorced, people said let us change her look, she needs to reinvent herself. No! Where does any mother reinvent herself, I wear the same jewelry in Anupamaa day in and day out, I don’t change because nobody does that. So keeping it in the real space, we are trying to change mindsets.
I am sure that Anupamaa has a lot of fans, but has there been a story from a particular fan that has stayed with you?
The kind of fan support that comes for Anupamaa is humongous, there are people who message me from different countries saying I give them hope. That may be a miracle will happen in their lives, an Anuj Kapadia will walk in their lives. There was a lady who once messaged me that she was in a marriage where her husband was physically abusing her and she got the courage to walk out of that marriage after watching Anupamaa. She was a post-graduate, but she gave up everything because she loved that man, and even though she had a one-year-old kid, she had the guts to walk out of the marriage and not humiliate herself further, that is one message that has stayed with me. We are in touch, she has found a job, her mother is supporting her.
If there is a message you have to give to the women out there what would it be?
I would tell the women out there that every one of you is so beautiful, you’ll are doing a phenomenal job. You don’t have to be a working woman to feel validated, if your family doesn’t validate you, you can validate yourself. The most important thing in life is self-love, I really want them to respect themselves. Hats off to the mothers, homemakers, I have been a mother for 7 years who has stayed at home, today I go home after working on the set for 14 hours, but for me, that period was more difficult when I was running the entire house. My life just revolved around my family, a woman’s job never ends and a mother never gets a day off. Every day you think, maybe I am doing something wrong for myself. So I just want women to know that it's ok to make mistakes, if something bad happens do not blame yourself for it.
Reel or real life, Rupali as Anupmaa is truly an inspiration. On that note, I wish all of you a very happy International Women's Day!