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Tulsi traditional but outspoken

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mumbai (UNI): Television actor-politician Smriti Irani says that her epoch making role as Tulsi Virani in longest running soap 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' was that of a traditional woman but at the same time having her own voice. ''Being traditional does not mean that one has to be submissive. I have tried to play Tulsi in a manner which is close to my personality,'' Smriti told reporters on the sets of her new serial 'Thodi si zameen Thoda sa Aasman' which she is co-producing with Ekta Kapoor. The new serial went on air from August 19 on Star Plus.

"Uma of Thodi si... is less melodramatic. She has no expectations from life. Despite being forced to forgo her higher education for the sake of her younger brother, she has no bitterness. She accepts her parents' decision as a fact of life and works hard to support her family and lives a happy and simple life, Smriti said about her new project. According to her, she had donned the producers' mantle two years ago with her Gujarati play 'Maniben.com'. ''I wanted to do more television productions and was in talks with three to four networks. When Shobha Kapoor learnt about my production plans, she asked me, ''Why dont we work together''.

To a question on the less glamourised set up of her new serial as compared to rest of the Balaji serials, Smriti said the key to the success of Balaji serials especially 'Kyunki ...' was that it did not compare itself with any other project since it first went on air six years ago. ''Today despite being much maligned, 'Kyunki' and its concept of Saas-Bahu has become a benchmark. You hear many actors and producers say that they do not want to be associated with saas bahu serials and after few episodes one sees the same themes, she added. She said Thodi Si Zameen... denotes her roots -a place to call home and Aasman is reflection of her pursuit of her dreams. ''Uma sees hope in the most difficult times. She takes everything in her stride,'' Smriti explained.

The actress said she considers herself as an actor more than a television star. ''I have no qualms of greying my hair to suit the elder Tulsi's role after the second generation leap in June. Had I considered myself a mere TV star, women audiences would not have considered me one of their own,'' she added. The actor-producer said she had no plans to take up direction. When asked about big screen, she said she was approached for Gujarathi and one Hindi movie. When I asked for a draft of the script, both the producers did not come back to me.

To a question on whether the late night slot of 2230 hrs on weekends would work for her new serial, She said, ''The same was said for Kyunki six years ago. But, it created history. I have been given this slot and will have to work hard to make it a success.'' When said that audiences will get to see her throughout the week from Monday-Sunday on the 2230 hrs slot, she said, ''it is upto the audiences to make the choice. There are a variety of programmes on air and it is people's wish to see me or not. I will give my best shot to make my new serial a success.'' She hopes to continue with her production house. ''I do not have the support of a mother like Ekta Kapoor has in the production business. I hope to make it to the top slow and steady,'' she said. Smriti said her political career is also going great guns. ''Youth have realised the value of their single vote and are politically aware now,'' she felt.

Thodi Si zameen... stars noted Marathi actors Usha Nadkarni, Achyut Potdar and Vidya Sinha, among others are - Pawan Shankar, Harsh Chhaya, Sanjit Bedi, Jaya Bhattacharya.

To a question on reports that Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff playing the male lead opposite her, Smriti refused to comment. ''These reports have been appearing for quite some time. But, I have not spoken to Jackie. When the male lead is finalised, you will come to know,'' she added. Thodi Si Zameen... is written by Kamlesh Pandey and directed by Santram Varma. Smriti said she has shot five episodes so far and the story has the capacity to take the serial to 52 episodes.

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