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Portraying 'Baija Maa' is a huge challenge: Toral Rasputra

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Charming actress Toral Rasputra who was immensely popular as 'Anandi' in the iconic long-running TV show 'Balika Vadhu' spoke to The Afternoon D&C regarding her latest mytho-role assignment

Tell us about the show, Mere Sai on Sony TV? What prompted you to take up the role?
Mere Sai is a biopic on Shirdi-wale Sai Baba that has been launched to mark the centenary year of his Samadhi. The show will express the teaching of ‘Shraddha and Shaburi’ which means Faith and Patience. It is a captivating narrative of Sai’s journey which underlines his teachings courage, determination & belief. The storyline is a well-researched history of Sai.

Now tell us about your role ?
My character of Baija Bai is one of the lead role in the series. The reason I said yes to this role is that it portrays a strong woman, though it wasn’t that different character from what I had played earlier, but it was something I could think of when making my comeback on television. As an actor, you always want your viewers to appreciate your work and sometimes even want to take inspiration from it.

Is playing Baija Bai a challenge? What preparation did you do to get the nuances right?
Yes, it was quite challenging as I have never played a Maharashtrian character on screen before. I am a Gujarati in real life and to portray  a Maharashtrian was a bit difficult. The look, accent and the appearance was different and I had to familiarize myself in it to make my performance on screen more real and lively. Our production house is Maharashtrian due to which I get a lot of help from the people around me. My make-up artist to my hair stylist and even others on set used to help me with my Marathi. Though I am born and brought up in Mumbai, I can’t speak Marathi. I think they have a typical way of saying few words for which I had to learn a lot and for that I did a lot of reading and practiced hard to get it right with perfection.

Any similarities that you can draw between you as a person and the character that you are portraying? Any preparations/inspiration for the role?
It is too early to talk about similarities I might draw with Baija Bai as I have recently started shooting for it and am still learning about who she was and what she did. Though there is very little known about her by the people, we as creative artists are trying to bring in all possible aspects, truth and reality of the character. I follow my creative team and do as my director says, I am a director’s actor. Yes, she was a strong woman that could be on similar not just with me, but all girls should relate to her and try to incorporate her characteristics.

There have been other television shows on Sai Baba before, tell us what is special/different about Mere Sai?
It is not a mythology show at first which makes it different from the shows already on air. All channels have at least one mythology show which is becoming very repetitive and bringing in Mere Sai is refreshingly different from them as it is a devotional history/folklore show. Secondly,  we are bringing this show on after the 100 years completion of Sai’s Samadhi which makes it even more important and special. Though there were many shows made on Sai earlier, but it’s been long time since a show on Sai Baba has come back.

One word that describes you as a person/actor that you want viewers to relate to?
Versatile! This is not because I have played varied roles. In fact, I have not, as our industry typecasts an actor very soon and he/she is further approached for similar roles. I would call myself versatile because I would always want to try my luck in comedy, negative roles and other genre as you never know what your calling is.

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