Back in 1994 when Mandira Bedi portrayed the titular role of a strong gutsy woman in her daily soap Shanti, nobody would have imagined, including Mandira, that the show will acquire a cult status and will continue to be an example even after two decades, when the television audience is tired of regressive saas-bahu sagas. With the iconic shows like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and probably Hum Paanch too, making a comeback, indianexpress.com asked Mandira whether she would like Shanti to return on the Indian television as well. “Yes, of course. Not because it was my show but because I want today’s generation to watch such strong portrayal of women,” came a prompt reply from Mandira.
When we asked the actor about her opinion on television shows being aired today and projection of women in them in comparison to that in Shanti, she said, “The show Shanti and its lead character were way ahead of their time. The message it sent out was too early for the audience to adapt but I looked upon to my character and wished to be like her in real life. After a few years of Shanti, television went backwards and showed women in regressive roles. Now, I feel the makers of the shows are trying to change this.” Adding to it she said, “Though I feel, there is no right time to portray women as stronger beings. It is something timeless and will always inspire. A strong character portrayed in a manner that women can connect to, is what is the need of the day.”
Mandira is till date remembered for plating the demure Preeti in Shah Rukh Khan starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. If given a chance, would she like to play a similar role today? Mandira looked tad confused as she said, “She (referring to her role in DDLJ) was a shy girl. She was in love with a character who was in love with someone else and it was 20 years ago. So a lot has changed from then and now. If something like that is offered to me today then probably I will think about it since I have changed a lot too.”
Moving from the small screen to the 70 mm screen, the portrayal of women had a drastic shift in the recent times. Case in point, Baahubali 2 and its female characters Sivagami and Devasena. So does Mandira, who already inspired women in her bold and outspoken avatar back in the 90s, thinks the Indian film industry should make more movies that change the perspective of society towards women? “Why only Baahubali or any other film, I think television and every form of media should take this responsibility to show women, if not on a higher pedestal, at least equal to their male counterparts. Whatever we will imbibe in today’s generation, they will pass it on to the next generation and the chain will continue,” opined Mandira.
At the age of 41, the actor-anchor continues to stay fit and considers exercise to be her sole stress buster. Recently, she posted a then-and-now picture on her Instagram about her body during and post pregnancy. “I was happy with that belly, because it had my Vir in it! But super happy now too because the belly’s not so swelly!,” she wrote along with the picture.
Mandira, who was there in Delhi to launch the new project of brand Activ8me – a provider of innovative fitness Products and solutions, also spoke about her idea of fitness to us. She said,”I have never been to a dietician or a nutritionist. I just feel if you can give up on fat food and get back to eating normally, the way you used to, you will gradually become fitter. You know what is bad for your health, so find alternatives for it, for example instead of chocolates eat raisins. Exercise to be mentally and physically fit not just because you need to be fit in the society.”
On the work front, what is Mandira up to? “I am doing a Tamil movie where I play a tough cop then in another I am playing a cop’s wife and in one gangster’s wife. And after all of this, I have been offered a role of a gangster too,” revealed Mandira.