Saturday, August 31, 2002

The little sister in a big act
Aditi Tandon

TejaswiniBEING Padmini Kolhapureís sister was one factor that brought Tejaswini to Bollywood. Surprised that she has actually taken after her actress sister, Tejaswini admits that she was never really inclined to follow Padmini. In fact, as a college student, she declined many film offers that came her way by virtue of being Padminiís sister. Not just that, unlike her sister, Tejaswini was never able to perform without feeling pressurised. Even today, she cannot perform easily in front of her parents.

"I am pleasantly surprised over the way things have shaped up for me. For a very long time, I had been modelling, inspiring myself with emotions, as and when required. But the thought of acting did not occur to me. Actually I always thought that I was too thin, dark and tall to be an actress. The myth only broke when one day we went to Gautam Rajyadhaksha to get a portfolio made. I looked good, but I knew I was still not prepared for films."


Tejaswini, who now runs The Model Shoppe which grooms those interested in joining the film industry, had once enrolled in an acting school but later dropped out of it. However, she was always interested in the business of glamour, doing fashion shows and featuring in commercials on television. That was perhaps one reason why she did not take long to adapt to the camera.

With her first film due for release, Tejaswini is surprised, not just because she is being appreciated in Anurag Kashyapís Paanch, but also because she is now actually enjoying something which she had been shunning for years. Her elder sister definitely helped her during the filming of Paanch, as did brother-in-law Tutu Sharma, also the producer of the film, who allowed her the freedom to improvise on the sets.

Ask the still-skinny Tejaswini about what fraction of Padmini's immense talent has she assimilated and she says, "Padmini is much older to me. When she was into films I was too young to even admire her or learn from her. But I adore her greatly. She had the best of roles, my favourites being the ones in Woh Saat Din and Prem Rog. After entering the industry at the tender age of 14, she had already had her fill by the time she was 21. That was when she gracefully quit to get the taste of another life. She concentrated on her home. Padmini is a great believer in God. She is normally satisfied with what she has. Even when she was young she never ran after fame. Fame came to her. Both of us differ here. Unlike her, I am very ambitious, though gradually I am also taking to the path of karma, which she follows."

Tejaswini admits that she draws inspiration for acting from her sister. "I donít like to be compared with her because I feel she is a much better actress. I always turn to her for tips. She is my mentor. Although I have done theatre and I understand the importance of spontaneous performance, I think I still have a lot to learn. Padmini keeps guiding me. On the sets she observes me keenly. I like to be criticised by her because she is my family."

Slated to make it big, Tejaswini is not planning to return to the small screen. Her last project on TV was Mujhe Chaand Chahiye. She now only wants to concentrate on films which she had, for long, rejected. Although Tejaswini is still into modelling, it no longer interests her much. She reasons, "I have always been an introvert. I have a problem mixing up with people and communicating with them. I now realise that I am happier on the sets of my film, doing what I want to and spending my time with people who want me to succeed. It feels like home."

Finally, with films having claimed their rightful place in Tejaswini's life, what remains to be seen is whether this charming sister of Padmini Kolhapure will be able to fight the tendency of the people to compare her with her elder sister. And whether, of course, she will be able to scale the heights her sister did. Comparisons among sisters are inevitable, arenít they?