Saans: Neena Gupta, Kanwaljit Singh, Kavita Kapoor recall their iconic TV show
The 1998 show was written and directed by Neena Gupta, who also acted in the show with Kanwaljit Singh along with Kavita Kapoor, Shagufta Ali, Sushmita Daan, and Bharat Kapoor, among others.Updated: Feb 24, 2017 07:30 IST
A modern take on adultery, relationships and broken marriages, Saans was a breath of fresh air for the TV audiences. The 1998 show was written and directed by Neena Gupta, who also acted in the show with Kanwaljit Singh along with Kavita Kapoor, Shagufta Ali, Sushmita Daan, and Bharat Kapoor, among others.
It revolved around the happily married Priya Kapoor (Gupta) and Gautam Kapoor (Singh) and their teenage kids Akul and Mithi. However, things change when Gautam befriends Manisha (Kapoor), who later falls for him. He leaves Priya, only to find Manisha tough to handle. Priya struggles to find her identity and later stands up for herself. She gets a job and learns to handle the family on her own.
Singh felt the concept was “quite bold” when he shot the pilot. He recalls that it wasn’t approved by the channel for almost a year. He says, “I didn’t know about Saans’s popularity while I was shooting for it.” He wasn’t very keen to play the role of a man who walks out on his wife. “I had always played an honest, positive guy which people expected from me. But I also wanted to try a new role. Despite that, I ensured that Gautam wasn’t shown as a villain but as a grey character, who loved his kids and felt responsible for Priya.” Singh was quite amused when he was invited to an industrialist’s party in Delhi, where “the married invitees were present with their other half (girlfriends), not better half (wives)”. Singh was often accosted by people who wanted his “advice on how to handle their wives and extramarital affairs”.
Gupta admits that she created the show for herself as “channels wanted only young girls as heroines in TV shows”, and she didn’t get good roles. She says, “In India, homemakers over 35 are don’t have an identity, in the sense that they are only looking after their family. Also I felt that extramarital affairs were common in society. People were either facing it or were under the threat of it. So, I wanted to show how a woman can move past it.” Gupta decided to write, direct and cast herself in the lead role, which was a tough choice as she had to manage various departments. She not only designed the set but also Priya’s look that was appreciated by viewers.
Gupta is glad that the show and the performances were real. “I could pull it off only because it was a weekly. I was fortunate to have a good team and the perfect cast. In fact, there was competition on who arrived on the sets before me. We would get many letters from women and men who asked for advice, and gave some too,” she says.
Kapoor was cast after one of her ads caught Gupta’s eye. She couldn’t believe when she got a call from Gupta to cast her in the show. “She is a hard taskmaster. She was surprised that I’d agreed to do the show without hearing the script. People gave a lot of love to the show, and I am sad that it ended so soon. I was cast for five episodes but once the show got popular, my role was extended.”