Director Ajai Sinha’s TV show, Hasratein, was based on a Marathi novel called Adhantari, by the late Jaywant Dalvi. The show is about Savi, a woman who has an extramarital affair with a married man, KT. Both their spouses, interestingly, are aware of their relationship. The role of Savi was played by Seema Kapoor for over 100 episodes. Later, Shefali Shah replaced her, and her portrayal of the character won Shefali several awards. KT was played by Harsh Chhaya, who was married to Shefali at the time. The show also starred Sejal Shah, Mrinal Kulkarni, Ketaki Dave, Sarita Joshi and Anju Mahendru, among others.
Seema was excited to be part of the series, and says, “I knew from the beginning that it would be a hit. The relationship between the characters was so well developed; it made you feel for the other woman too.The show was modern and realistic in its approach. I wore swimsuits, and even did romantic scenes.” She may have been ‘the other woman’ in the series, but Seema never got negative reactions from viewers about falling in love with a married man. In fact, “they wanted KT and Savi together”.
“KT was different. He wasn’t black or white. Moreover, later in the show, KT begins to lose his memory. That part was wonderful to perform too,” says Harsh.
Harsh was initially offered the role of Savi’s husband, Shyam. But he felt the role wasn’t interesting, and turned it down. He says, “People told me I was a fool to turn down the role. The show was already on air then, and was quite popular. I forgot about it. But then I was offered the role of KT.” Harsh loved KT’s “irreverence and attitude”. He adds, “KT didn’t give a damn about what people thought. He was in love with a woman and left his wife for her. Playing a nice guy becomes boring after a while. So, KT was different. He wasn’t black or white. Moreover, later in the show, KT begins to lose his memory. That part was wonderful to perform too.”
Harsh, who was relatively new to the industry then, reveals that he had a cordial relationship with Seema. Working with his then-wife Shefali, too, was smooth. “Ajaiji had some doubts about people accepting her [Shefali] as the older Savi. As actors, playing a married couple and being married in real life didn’t clash at all. We kept our personal and professional lives separate,” he says.
“We never felt we were attempting anything bold. We presented a series that people watched and it became popular; that’s all it was for us,” says Harsh.
Not only was the subject of an extramarital affair bold for television back then, the bedroom scenes in the show also caught the attention of the viewers. “There were bedroom scenes, but how much could you show on TV anyway? The scenes and the theme are part of our lives. So it wasn’t surprising to know that the audience liked it. We never felt we were attempting anything bold. We presented a series that people watched and it became popular; that’s all it was for us,” says Harsh.
Seema wasn’t keen about playing a mother to older kids, and that was one of the reasons she quit the show. Shefali remembers the series fondly, which made her a household name. But initially, she was sceptical about how she would be accepted as a middle-aged Savi, post Seema’s exit.
“I was worried about people’s acceptance when I joined, as the show was quite popular. I tried to play the role differently than it was being played before, and that worked. The show became more successful. For me, Savi was in search of love and deserved a chance. She was an incredibly strong woman to choose to have her own kid out of wedlock and to be gracious enough to let him go when she knew he couldn’t be with her. But with the role, I put myself in the older age bracket where roles were concerned,” she says.