The Great Indian Soap Trick, reeling under the crippling Covid crisis that closed down the entertainment industry, not to mention the abject mediocrity that has crept into fictional content on Indian television, has suddenly received a huge boost.
Anupamaa a serial about a workingclass Gujarati housewife who comes into her own,is breaking all records with TRPs that Indian fictional content on television stopped dreaming about ever since outlandish tales of nags and nagins dressed in expensive saree and jewellery cooking up lethal dishes in their ballroom-sized rasodi(kitchen) , took over the home medium.
“It’s a journey back to reality for the Indian soap,” says Rupali Ganguly, the pretty 43-year old actress who plays the eponymous part in Anupamaa. “No doubt Anupamaa has changed my life. I am still reeling under the impact.Where is the time to feel like a queen?” she laughs when I call her the Queen of Indian television. “Every day we’re rushing against time to complete episodes which during these Covid times is not an easy task.”
Rupali and the large Anupamaa team are following all the Covid guidelines. “But we spend so much time together that we forget about Covid once we are on the set every morning. I spend more time with the cast and crew of Anupamaa than I do with my own family.”
Rupaali who is the daughter of the late and great filmmaker Anil Ganguly , says she was initially apprehensive about shooting during the Covid. “I’ve a 7 year old son and and an old mother-in-law at home. But the producer Rajan Shahi to whom, along with director Romesh Kalra, I give all the credit for the success of Anupamaa insisted on having me on board.”
Shahi and Rupali had worked together many years ago. “I was part of Rajan Sir’s serial Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin in 1999. I was very young , very impulsive. During those days I preferred taking a holiday rather than shotting to meet deadlines. So when Anupamaa came to me Rajan sir kept asking me , ‘Tum waisi toh abb nahin ho na?’ I told him I’m still the same though far more disciplined and focused on my work.”
Shooting Anupamaa throughout the day gives Rupali no time to enjoy its success. “How do I know how much it’s been appreciated when I don’t even have time for my husband and son? Soon they won’t recognize me! But I’m not complaining. The success of Anupamaa was expected. The director Romesh Sir(Kalra) spares no efforts to make every episode authentic and appealing. My character speaks, dresses and behaves like an ordinary housewife. Even the sarees that you see me wearing are all sootee(cotton). These details from the workinglass have been appreciated by the audience. They had not seen a serial about their own life for along time.”
While her screen husband is a bit of an insensitive cad, Rupali’s real-life husband Ashwin Verma is the epitome of spousal support.
Says Rupali emotionally, “If it wasn’t for Ashwin I wouldn’t be shooting for this serial. It was he who urged me to go out and do Anupamaa while he set aside his own work to look after our son and our home.I consider myself blessed in every way.”
Rupali’s only regret? “I wish my father was here to see Anupamaa. He made such memorable films about strong women characters like Kora Kagaz, Tapasya and Humkadam. In fact Anupamaa reminds me of his Humkadam. My father never got his due recognition. He would have been been so proud of me had he seen Anupama