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With one child married off and another in a different city, Madhu ji finds solace for her loneliness in the small screen. Such is her obsession with saas-bahu dramas on TV that real and reel life often overlap. The result is a rather innovative, funny soap on Zindagi, titled TV Ke Uss Paar, which started airing on October 3. Veteran Marathi theatre actor Amita Khopkar, 55, plays the protagonist with ease, as she deals with her own family crisis, and those of TV characters on-screen. Here, Khopkar talks about theatre, the state of Indian TV and finding a meaty role at this age. Excerpts:
Tell us about your entry into the world of acting, and the various mediums you’ve interacted with.
I complete 40 years in Marathi theatre this year. I was in school when I got interested in theatre, even though no one in my family ever acted. I joined professional Marathi theatre early on, have performed all over the world, and worked on plays written by the likes of PL Deshpande. I have done some Marathi and Hindi serials too, such as Main Tera Hero and Sasural Simar Ka. I had no intention of jumping from theatre to TV but it just happened.
What about TV Ke Uss Paar attracted you to it?
The casting director of the show called me three days before the shoot began. I was reluctant at first but then agreed because of the script and the role they offered me. Here’s a show that is mocking itself — its own industry. It’s a very daring and innovative concept. Also, who would give me such a big role at this age on television?
Women after a certain age don’t get meaty roles, as you mentioned. Do you think that’s changing?
At 55, I will only be offered to play the role of a mother, and it won’t be a central character. There is nothing written for this stage of our lives, and I am glad TV Ke Uss Paar is changing that.
What is your take on the state of Indian TV shows now, as nagins and saas-bahu dramas continue to rule TRPs?
Indian TV shows are taking us back in time; they’re so regressive. We are stuck on certain storylines, and unfortunately, viewers are watching them and liking them. I find it tough to understand why shows with conspiring saas-bahus and nagins work.
What are you working on apart from this show?
Before the show began, I was touring with a Marathi theatre production titled Janam Rahasya, wherein I play a schizophrenic. I’d like to resume staging that in a month or so, while doing TV Ke Uss Paar. Theatre is my oxygen, I can’t do without it.