Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon is on a roll. After her celebrated wedding with Anil Thadani, Raveena has been keeping a low profile. But she's back with a bang, albeit on the small screen. If there's something she's wildly excited about these days, it's her role in Sahara TV's 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam'. Excerpts from an interview:
What made you turn to television?
Certainly not lack of opportunities in cinema. But where do you get such a strong literary role in films? The deep and reflective character had to come to me on the home-viewing medium. And going by the number of calls and messages I’ve received ever since 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam' started telecast I must say I made a wise decision…For once, ha ha…You know, when I heard the narration for the first 30 episodes, I was immediately hooked. I just wanted to know what happened next. Every episode has something happening.
How long will 'Sahib Bibi Sur Ghulam' last?
I’ll be working on it till the end of July. But I’m having a gala time. This is my first period film and my first literary adaptation. I’m glad it happened now. Earlier I was so taken up with masala films and running around the trees (that) I wouldn’t have been able to give this project the attention and concentration it deserves. Instead of being just one more assignment 'Sahib Bibi' is now THE assignment of my life…after my marriage, of course.
Do the comparisons with Guru Dutt’s version of the Bimal Mitra novel and Meena Kumari's performance in that film weigh on you?
I’ve been repeatedly saying, they don’t. Our serial isn’t trying to measure up to that immortal work of art, or that exquisite performance. Come on, Meena Kumari was Meena Kumari! Plus she had the advantage of functioning in an era when there was black-and-white photography. That immediately created an aura of mystery. We can’t use light-and-shade technique on TV. To even compare us to those legends is an insult to them. Please, let’s not go into that territory at all. I suffer from so many disadvantages on television. For one, when Meena Kumari dubbed her voice she could bring that tragic lilt to her voice. I can’t do all that on television. I couldn’t even raise my voice because of the dubbed sound. And yet I’ve the women viewers getting captivated. | Also Read: Film on widows brings Vrindavan to boil | Bollywood babes want real life hero |
Were you afraid you wouldn’t fit into a Bengali ambience?
No that wasn’t a fear at all. I knew I could fit in. I was determined to take on the challenge. When I saw Guru Dutt’s film I was left with a lot of unanswered questions about Meena Kumari’s character. At the end, I wanted to know how and why my character died. Some of the mystery had to be taken away on television because of the medium’s requirements. Frankly, I’ve never been so enthused by a role. In my films I get my lines when I reach the sets. Here I get time to prepare, mull over the lines, get into character, feel like this neglected but undefeated wife in a feudal household.
Do you think you’ll succeed television where your colleagues from cinema have failed?
It’s a responsibility, I must admit. But I’ve been waiting for something like 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam' before getting into television for three years now. I was offered lots of game shows, daily comedies…the works, for three years now. And big money to boot. But I wasn’t tempted. I always felt if you’re showing a very glamorous film-star on a soap you can’t just fit her into the usual domestic drama. I had to play something larger-than-life and yet very real on television. Hopefully it will work. The story and script are the real heroes of the serial. Even if it doesn’t work, I won’t regret doing 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam'.
Do you get able support from your co-stars?
Ayub Khan who plays my husband is great fun. We get along really well. It’s very important for a unit to bond well when it works closely for days and weeks together. I must say Ayub has brought a lot of intensity to the character.
Now Deepa Mehta plans to make a film on the same subject?
I don’t know when that will happen. Our serial will be over by the time that film hits the screen. I don’t think we need to fear comparisons with Deepa’s film, only Guru Dutt’s film.
How far do you identify with the rebellious bahu in 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam'?
Like her, I believe a husband is for keeps. Unlike her I married the right man at the right time. Thank God! I believe in strong traditional values. I’ve reached a stage where I’m not too enthused by my film career. Even if I do continue it’ll only be one film a year, and that too a film which suits my personality and new status as Mrs Anil Thadani. Otherwise, I might do no film at all. | Raveena's Wedding Special