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    Melodrama tougher than acting real: Smriti

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Monday, May 23, 2005
    To all those dismissive of "Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" as yet another predictable tearjerker on Indian television, actress Smriti Malhotra Irani has one answer - melodrama is tougher than reality acting.

    Smriti, who plays the popular character of Tulsi in the serial produced by Balaji Telefilms, says: "With due respects to reality acting, the easiest thing to do is get real on screen. The most difficult thing to do is to make the hysteria and melodrama believable."

    She, however, adds that of late she has been insisting on her character being as close to herself as possible.

    "When I see a tearjerker scene in the script, I ask if any woman in real life would cry so much," Smriti told IANS in an interview.

    "Now if an emotion doesn''''t go with my perceptions and sensibilities I protest."

    Excerpts from the second part of her interview (the first part ran Sunday):

    Has the soap "Kyunkii..." typecast you?

    I'm grateful to the audience for not thinking I'm actually 50, ha, ha! Thankfully I've many other things besides Tulsi happening in life. So Smriti Irani is not necessarily Tulsi. I think she has become a part and parcel of everybody's day-to-day life. If people still want to tune in and watch me after four years of playing Tulsi, I think I'm blessed.

    In cinema, you are there one Friday and then if you're lucky people watch you for a month or two. But to be in every house five times a week and to be continuously at the no. 1 slot for almost five years is no mean feat.

    And to be not taken for granted...

    Every character and actor on "Kyunkii..." just fell into place. We look like a family that lives and breathes together. Every actor fits the character to a T...and TRP, ha, ha!

    Some people say it's too melodramatic. But with due respects to reality acting, the easiest thing to do is get real on screen. The most difficult thing to do is to make the hysteria and melodrama believable. To have my screen-husband Mihir come alive and behave as though everything is hunky-dory requires a great amount of acting, believe me. I've tried to bring the character as close to me as possible. The only thing you don't see in Tulsi is my bouts of temper.

    But you do flare up like hell!

    (laughs) So there even that aspect of my personality comes across. The only thing I won't do is take another woman in my husband's life, like Tulsi. But then I guess Tulsi is one of those women who gives family ties priority over everything else.

    I remember when "Kyunkii..." had just started, one of the directors called up Ekta Kapoor to say I can't act. "Poora satyaanash kar diya serial ka" (ruined the entire serial). I told Ekta I was trying to be pretty. Ekta said: "Do what you want. Just make it real." So here I am.

    Now they say you cry excessively on "Kyunkii..."

    (Producer) Ekta Kapoor links the soap's TRPs to my tears (chuckles). She insists on making me cry. Now when my character is growing older I'm putting my foot down. When I see a tearjerker scene in the script, I ask if any woman in real life would cry so much.

    There has to be an emotional balance. Now if an emotion doesn't go with my perceptions and sensibilities I protest. Sometimes Ekta still insists for the sake of a specific scene. Then I go ahead and do it her way. God willing I'd continue playing Tulsi, unless something drastic happens.

    Do you enjoy being called Tulsi?

    Now I've other identities, though I've not consciously gravitated towards politics to get away from the Tulsi image. I've never planned anything in life. When I started playing Tulsi I never thought we'd be no. 1. We were a poor cousin to "Kaun Banega Crorepati" and hoped that people who watched it would continue watching TV and catch our serial.

    Till date I've seen "Kyunkii..." just 4-5 times. Where's the time? When I come home I need to catch up on my homework. I've so many responsibilities to fulfil. I've a career on TV, in politics... and I've a family to take care of. And if I've taken on those roles I better make sure I fulfil all of them to the fullest of my abilities.

    How do you manage it?

    I've absolutely no idea! The day I start thinking how I juggle all my roles I'll just collapse. Today for example, I attended my son's PTA (parent teacher association) meeting, then I attended to my daughter's school test. Now I'm off to buy a washing machine, which has suddenly decided to conk off.

    Then after lunch I put my children to sleep and go off to shoot for "Kyunki..." One has to learn time management. The rest just follows. I think I'm up to multiple tasks.

    Do you think the soap is now becoming redundant in your life?

    That would be unfair. "Kyunkii..." has given me a platform to express myself. There're millions of women who want to be in my shoes. I don't want to be like those stars who crib about not being able to have golgappa on the beach. I've more important goals than a golgappa in life.

    I always count my blessings. To crib would be unfair. In any case to my fans I'm not a star. I'm a part of their household. They discuss their problems with me, ask me to solve domestic crises. I don't behave like a star. I don't have a coterie, or even a spot boy to carry my icebox. I can carry my own stuff, thank you.

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