Ramayan’s Sita Dipika Chikhlia turns 55, says ‘When I am no more, my body of work shouldn’t only be Ramayan’
Actor Dipika Chikhlia, better known as Sita from Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, is celebrating her birthday today. The actor turns 55 on Wednesday and has around the same number of films in several languages to her credit besides the hit mythological show which continues to make her a revered figure even today. Despite playing the iconic role of Sita, Dipika doesn’t want her remarkable career to be identified with just one evergreen creation and wishes to portray Asha Devi on screen, mother of 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times around her birthday, Dipika shared her experience of working on the 1987 show that had a successful rerun recently amid lockdown. She also talked about life and career beyond Ramayan. Excerpts:
What led to your unconventional transition from films to TV?
There was no specific reason as such, I was not getting the roles I wanted in films. Coincidently, Rajshri Productions, which had given me a break in the film industry, wanted me to work in their television show. Since they had given me a break, I also accepted the show out of goodwill. I had shot just one episode with them and was flooded with offers for TV shows thereafter and it never came to an end. I was getting such good work that I continued working in television and never looked back. I had never limited myself to a particular medium, it all just fell into place.
Did you find something special about the process of working with Ramanand Sagar?
Of course, it was very different because he came from the era of Raj Kapoor and had worked with people of that calibre. It’s that level of intelligence, dedication, understanding of the medium, it makes a lot of difference when you work with such great minds. He was phenomenal in his work and his understanding of the subject was very, very good.
Did you face any difficulty shooting for Ramayan in those days? How different it was it from today’s industry?
We didn’t face any such difficulty and working with the same staff for a very long time. It was all that was, there was nothing else to compare it with. You cannot compare something when you don’t have an option.
It is said you rejected several roles in order to not harm the image of Sita.
The offers were mostly similar and I didn’t want to be repetitive. I didn’t want to break my image.
Do you find a major difference between Ramayan (1987) and mythological shows made these days?
Even today it is greater than everything despite the fact that you have Netflix. That’s why it is doing better than other programmes available on TV and has broken so many records. If people are watching Ramayan instead of watching Netflix, something has to be special about it.
Some actors have shown disappointment with the way mythological shows are made in today’s times. Do you agree?
Definitely, everything is wrong. Since you are touching mythology, it should also act as a constraint. It should look good and performances have to be good. It is very important to be a good performer. You can’t make a mythological show with bad actors. Sometimes you don’t get what they are doing. Mythology is a difficult subject; it’s not a social drama.
You continue to be revered for your onscreen portrayal?
Yes, not in Mumbai but when we go to small town, it’s the same story. People touch our feet and think of you as Sita.
Did you receive offers not suitable for your screen image?
They always felt I could have broken that image, be seen as regular person. Nothing very exciting was offered to me in Bollywood so I did a lot of regional work. I am very happy and satisfied with the work I have done in various languages.
You recently appeared in Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Bala. Are you open to working in mainstream Bollywood films now?
Nothing has been finalised due to lockdown but I got a lot of enquiries after Bala. I haven’t finalised anything as of now.
You have expressed your desire to play the role of Delhi gang-rape victim’s mother. Why so?
It is a very important role to play, these kind of roles don’t come every day. I would love to do something like this once the lockdown is over. When I am no more, my body of work shouldn’t only be Ramayan, it should be much more. The movies I have done in Kannada or in Bengal, all of them have broken records. I should have a good body of work in Hindi cinema apart from Ramayan. It is important for me to do that, for my own satisfaction that I lived the legacy of Ramayan.
Have you signed a Hindi project?
I am dong a film on Sarojini Naidu whom I am also playing.
(Author tweets @ruchik87)
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