Written by Ashok Patole and directed by Rajan Waghdhare, the show starred Late Jatin Kanakia, Reema Lagoo, Rakesh Bedi and Archana Puran Singh. A popular sitcom in 1994, Shrimaan Shrimati upped the ante of comedy shows in India.
The plot was about loving the neighbour’s wife. Married Keshav Kulkarni (Jatin Kanakia) gets attracted to actress Prema Shalini (Archana Puran Singh) who lives with her effeminate husband Dilruba (Rakesh Bedi), while Dilruba finds Keshav’s elegant wife Kokila (Reema Lagoo) attractive. While the guys flirt with each other’s wife, they never cross the line.
The highlight of the show was Keshav and Koki’s constant arguments, his funny one-liners, the flirtatious Dilruba, who was perhaps one of the first effeminate characters on TV. Archana feels the show was “one of the most memorable experiences” of her life. She adds, “Not only in terms of success but also the role (played by her in the serial). The role and show satisfied the actor in me. Reema Lagoo brought certain freshness to comedy. Rajan and Rakesh were a treat to work with. I had never heard of Jatin, and as a fresh new talent, he was superb. Sadly, he passed away at a young age. Rakesh, Jatin and I would jell very well, as we often had scenes together.”
Archana recalls coining few popular phrases on the show. “One day, I just called Rakesh ‘Dil’ instead of ‘Dilruba’, and in turn he called me Doll. Dil and Doll became very popular and this was impromptu. Rajan allowed us to improvise, and well-written scenes helped us take the scenes to a higher level.” The show aired almost 150 episodes, but midway through the show, Archana got pregnant and had to take a break. The makers replaced her with Neena Gupta. “She didn’t enjoy doing comedy much. The doctors had advised me bed rest. So for a few months, Neena played the role,” says Archana, who returned to the show after her delivery.
Rakesh says, “The show ran for four years and was loved by many. Even today, people recall it, and there are shows that are inspired by it too. I played the hen-pecked husband, but I couldn’t get a grip on the role. Coincidentally, I went to an actor’s wedding before shooting the show, and I realised that her husband was exactly what I wanted Dilruba to be. I kept observing him and his mannerisms for an hour at the wedding, and the role took shape. We all enjoyed working with each other. We even fought over scenes but it was all for the betterment of the show, never with egos.”
The show was shot in bungalows in Juhu, though the couples were shown to be living in apartments. “Rajan was clever with the camera. He would put a low-angle shot in the garden and create a balcony effect, whereas the garden and I would be on the same level in reality,” adds Archana.