By: Mohnish Singh
Actor Kitu Gidwani says she often misses the bygone era of the 1980s and ’90s, regarded as the golden age of television, and believes the onus is now on streamers to reach the same level of “creativity and intelligence”.
Gidwani, whose acting credits include popular serials such as Junoon, Swabhimaan, and Shaktimaan, said the decades preceding the 2000s were a creatively rich period for the small screen.
Asked if she looked back fondly on the memories of ’80s and ’90s shows, Gidwani told PTI in an interview over the phone: “There is definitely nostalgia for that time. It was a period of full creativity. You didn’t have a channel to bow down to. The producers were given free reign for their creativity. All kinds of serials were produced whether it was by Doordarshan, DD Metro, or the first few (satellite) channels like Zee.” There was Banegi Apni Baat, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi, and all kinds of nice comedies. You also had Tamas by Govind Nihalani, fun thrillers. It was amazing. We have to achieve that level of creativity and intelligence in our streamers,” she said.
As someone who has worked in theatre, TV, films, and streaming platforms, the 55-year-old actor said today it’s all about churning out good content in different genres.
She will next be seen in the second season of the web series Potluck, set to start streaming on SonyLIV from February 24.
“The whole point of (digital) platforms is to provide a wide variety of content. Otherwise, you might as well go back to the 2000s and 2010s and do the typical ‘saas-bahu’ serials. I would urge all producers and OTT platforms to give a wide variety of content and not follow the herd like television,” she said.
Up till 2000, television was an “extremely diverse” medium, according to Gidwani.
“I played all kinds of roles for 15 years. I played a reporter, a college student, Mini Agarwal in ‘Junoon’, Svetlana in ‘Swabhimaan’, a detective, a cop, a mother, and a teacher. Just like Netflix (today), you would be able to do comedies, horror, suspense, crime thrillers, feel-good serials back then,” she added.
Her first love, however, is theatre.
“You can’t compare the magic of a stage with anything. You can’t surpass that,” she said.
The actor is looking forward to reprising the role of Pramila, the matriarch of the Shastri family in “Potluck” season two.
In the upcoming chapter, Pramila wants to participate in the ‘Mrs Meadows’ pageant, a decision that her family believes is the result of a midlife crisis.
“Pramila wants to do this all by herself, but the family is full of suggestions. They are not going to leave her alone. She just gets irritated. The purpose is lost as she wants to be independent. But in the end, it’s a happy ending because she realises that family is family,” she added.
While Gidwani said she knows many people who have experienced midlife crisis, she doesn’t relate to the phenomenon.
“I am not a typical Indian woman who gets married, has children and suddenly realises that life has passed her by. I have always been very conscious that I’ll never let life pass me by. So, it (midlife crisis) doesn’t apply to me. By the grace of God, I’ve always followed my heart right from my 20s.
“There are so many people, women, I know who have faced that at some stage or the other. And then they suddenly start a business in their 40s or have an affair or join some baba in some ashram. But, I understand women like that,” she added.
Another upcoming project for Gidwani is the Sony TV show “Hum”, which is an official Indian adaptation of a Turkish soap opera. She plays Rani-sa, the matriarch of the family, a character she described as a strong woman.
“It’s a big TV series for the Indian masses, so you have to be very mindful of that. Turkish dramas are very popular. The producer has already bought the rights to the show.
“It’s a different world of acting, dressing. It’s going to be another different experience after 22 years. I haven’t done anything like that. It’s more classy, and realistic. We are starting shooting next month,” she added.