Smriti Irani, who plays the character of Tulsi in the popular soap Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, is angry and hurt by rumours that she is quitting. Brushing aside speculation, she says she is here to stay.
"I don't even want to give credibility to these rumours by reacting. Anyone who's spreading this rumour genuinely needs a holiday. I don't think my talent can be held hostage by such rumours," Smriti told IANS in an interview.
Smriti, whose character in the serial produced by Ekta Kapoor's Balajee Telefilms has aged from a newly-married woman to that of the grand old matriarch, also denied that she had any problem playing an aged woman.
She lashed out against those responsible for the rumours, terming it "irresponsible journalism".
She also spoke about her new serial Thodasa Aasman, which she has co-produced with Kapoor.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Another controversy rears it head...
A: So it does. I must be the one actor with the largest number of controversies to my discredit. This is highly irresponsible journalism. Balajee Telefilms (producer of the serial) is a public ltd company. Star is such a highly rated channel. And Kyunkii... is the highest revenue earner for Balajee and Star. Such false information puts everyone in a spot. How can one particular reporter quoting one particular invisible source be the reason for so much stress?
Q: Does it bother you?
A: Honestly, it hurts. For six years I've worked with Balajee and Star to get this show where it's started. My association with Star goes back to long before Kyunkii... I'm like a horse with blinkers. So I try not to get bothered with such talk.
Q: But why is there such a controversy about you every few months?
A: It all comes from one source. I don't know why. With my work-load and responsibilities, I genuinely feel I don't need to react to such imaginary stories. Who are these 'sources' who claim I'm leaving Kyunkii...." How can I react to ghosts?
What's really surprising is that in all these six years doing Kyunkii..., Shobha Kapoorji, Ekta and I meet behind closed doors with no fourth person in the room. So how do people outside assume about what we talk? I guess even big stars aren't immune to speculative writing. So who am I?
Q: So who's responsible for the rumour that you're leaving Kyunkii ...?
A: Someone who's extremely keen to see me go.
Q: There's no Kyunkii... without you?
A: Nothing and nobody is indispensable. But someone is trying desperately tbreak my six-year association with "Kyunkii..." I don't allow myself to get pained by such ghost stories. My fans and audience do react, though.
Q: So once and for all, you aren't leaving Kyunkii...?
A: I'm right now in a shoot with Balajee. So how can I leave? This entire controversy is so illogical. My character is supposed to be in Hardwar, so how can I be shown in parts of the narrative that are located in Mumbai? Isn't that self-evident?
I don't even want to give credibility to these rumours by reacting. Anyone who's spreading this rumour genuinely needs a holiday. I don't think my talent can be held hostage by such rumours.
Q: It's said there's a dispute about you looking old in the serial?
A: If there was a dispute would I have agreed? When I had spoken to you last, I had told you that I had no problems ageing according to the way the script goes. I must be the oldest-looking protagonist on any of the soaps.
Q: What about your other show with Balajee which you're co-producing?
A: In it I play a girl called Uma who goes through tremendous hardships in life. I must thank my well-wishers for preparing me for this role. Jokes aside, my family channel and production house don't deserve this.
Asked about the controversy, Ekta Kapoor said: "I really don't want to say anything about this. But, yes, Smriti is very much 'Baa'. She's shooting for us right now. Her other show which we're jointly co-producing is called Thodasa Aasman."
Asked why the title of the serial did not start with the alphabet K, like all other Balajee soaps, Kapoor said: "Because this isn't my production alone."
On the reported opposition by Irani to portray an aged woman, Kapoor said: Kyunkii. already features Smriti as the aged 'Baa'. So where's the question of her not wanting to age?"