Today, saas-bahu shows are mostly melodramatic and over the top. But one saas-bahu drama that is etched in our hearts till date is the popular sitcom Tu Tu Main Main, which featured a stubborn mother-in-law, played by Reema Lagoo, and a boisterous daughter-in-law, enacted by Supriya Pilgaonkar.
The love-hate relationship between the two lead female characters, the middle-class family setting, and the sweet and sour bickering between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law made the 1994 sitcom a much-loved one. Actor Mahesh Thakur, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Resham Tipnis and Jayati Bhatia were also cast in the show, which was directed by Sachin Pilgaonkar.
Reema says, “The simplicity of the stories and the presentation made the show a runaway hit. There were no lavish sets, costumes or props.” Most of the Doordarshan show was shot in a bungalow. Producer Shrey Guleri met Sachin with a proposal to collaborate for a show, and they locked the concept of a comedy serial, which was based on the bickering between a saas and a bahu.
Supriya says, “We received the entire script in advance. We used to shoot for long hours. Back then, there were no saas-bahu dramas, so this was a novelty.” The show started off as a weekly and later became a bi weekly.
Supriya felt excited about being directed by her husband, and felt it “was a boon”. She adds, “He brought me into acting. Earlier, he had directed me in Marathi feature films and later this show. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be acting. I am totally a director’s actor. He gave me a lot of confidence and guidance. A true director always brings out the best in an actor. I will always be grateful to him for that.”
Sachin had approached Reema for the role of the mother-in-law, which she “liked instantly”. As Reema had never worked with Sachin as a director, she found it “interesting that Sachin would be directing the show”. She had done another comedy show, Shriman Shrimati. So, comedy wasn’t new for her. Reema adds, “They both were comedies, but the setting of both the sitcoms was different. I love doing comedy, so it was a good opportunity for me.”
Supriya and Reema hit it off well while doing the show, and “didn’t have any trouble while working together”. Surpiya adds, “Reemaji is a brilliant actor and a wonderful person. Sachin would take us through the scenes. It took us a few episodes to find the right tone for the show. People remember the show, even today. Even directors directing me in serials today tell me they grew up watching the show.”
Reema, too, found Supriya to be a good actor, and thought “her comic timing was good”. She says, “I credit Sachin’s direction for the success of the show. Another factor that worked for the show was the crisp and fast-paced script, which is essential in a comedy show. Writer Sajeev Kapoor did a brilliant job. He knew how a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law behaved, related to each other, the language they used, etc. Women connected to the show due to the idioms we used. The variations in the story made it fun for us. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Reema remembers many episodes, but one of her favourites is the one in which they imitate Sridevi, and another one where they both decide to keep mum. “It was a challenge to act, as one had to emote without dialogues. It felt like I was giving an exam,” she quips.
Reema is glad that people still remember her comic avatar. “Once Asha tai (Asha Bhosle) met me and said she loved my show. But she added that I shouldn’t be so nice to my bahu in the show. It was wonderful to get such feedback,” she says.