She’s still the same. The skin has aged a little, but the smile, the childlike persona is intact. Swaroop Rawal, nee Sampat still has a glimpse of Renu – the wife she made so popular in Kundan Shah’s Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi.
At her sparsely but tastefully done, spacious suburban flat, Kshama Rao catches up with the actress who’s been blissfully away from the maddening television pace. Mother of two, Aniruddh (18) and Aditya (15), the wife of Paresh Rawal comes across as a woman comfortable in her own skin.
Where have you been?
I was finishing my 1,00,000 word long PhD thesis at the University of Worcester. I got my degree last November (she shows me her beaming picture in a purple and gold robe). The ceremony was held at a seventh century cathedral. Paresh was with me.
|Swaroop Sampat strikes a pose in her inimitable style.|
Photo: Vijayanand Gupta (HT Cafe)
Your study is based on dyslexia, isn’t it?
Yes, it was about using drama as a method to teach another subject. A play in itself is creative but when you use it to teach something else, it’s a higher level of creativity. I have been at it for five years now, with a reference list of 400 names.
But it was worth every thing to put that together. The university appreciated the research I had done and have asked me to write for their academic journals.
Last July I was in the US for a month to complete it…
That must have been fun… Absolutely, being away from the family was the best part. For one whole month, I could do whatever I wanted to, just be myself away from home and responsibilities, eat whatever I wanted, wear what I liked.
How’s being a mother been?
I have thoroughly enjoyed being one. I was neither too old nor too young when I became one.
Thankfully, I had all the energy to do everything I wanted to with my sons. I have played football, lagori and what not with them. I have taken them to the beaches, museums, parks everywhere.
Every time they had a school project I would introduce them to it in more practical ways. I was busy with my elder son’s board exams, Class X and XII and now my younger son is in Class X.
Do you miss having a daughter?
No, because in my family I was the only girl after 120 years of sons and sons only. I am used to boys around me.
What do you feel about the present TV scene? Do producers still offer you work?
They do. But if I had got something worthwhile I would be doing it, no? I wonder sometimes if we are going forward or backward. There needs to be a certain quality of writing, direction and performances. Abroad, there is some fantastic work happening.
I like the present Kaun Banega Crorepati though, the way they have made the show livelier and entertaining.
Change is inevitable. I know TV today can’t be the same it was 20 years ago, but there should be some quality control, something to look forward to.
Stories don’t progress at times. It looks like ‘a filling up that half an hour’ exercise. Even if you miss six episodes at a stretch, you still wouldn’t miss anything.
Would you do a sequel to Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi?
(Perks up) Why not? Isn’t Karamchand back? I loved that show and now I want my sons to watch it.
What do you think of your husband as an actor?
(Smiles) I like most of his films. Sardar, Kabza, Sir, Tamanna and of course, Hera Pheri are my favourites. What you have seen of him, especially in the comedies, is just the tip of the iceberg. He makes for an awesome villain and a fantastic actor.
Does he discuss films with you?
No, but we talk about theatre a lot because in any case it was theatre where Paresh and Shafi bhai (the late Shafi Inamdar, her first co-star in Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi) who introduced me to acting.
I was not an actress to begin with. I was more interested in managing backstage, the costumes, the set design, the lights and so on.
To me, acting in front of the audience or being on-screen is as satisfying as being behind the screen.
Finally, do we see you back?
Why not? But I’m not a very ambitious kind. It’s not that being an actress is my only identity. I am equally happy and content, holding workshops for women, for teachers at Madurai or for the army at Uri, to introduce drama as a method to teach dyslexic children, there’s much more to life…right?