The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 7, 2003
Lead Article

“I was frustrated with TV roles”
Shubarna Mukerji

With Gangaajal and Kyon, TV artiste Anita Kanwal has made the transition to the big screen.

THE lady in question is not a stranger to the world of television and cinema. We have had her making us laugh and cry for more than a decade. The characters she portrayed have become a part of our lives. Anita Kanwal is a household name for television buffs.

Anita has now decided to make the transition to the big screen. Up for release are Prakash Jha's Gangaajal and Kalpana Lajmi's Kyon. She says, 'It feels great! I have never pursued the big screen earlier, so I never really got much out of it. I was waiting for something to happen on its own, and it did. I am very happy because ultimately this is where everyone wants to be. The big screen is a long lasting thing.'

A tête-à-tête with Anita Kanwal:

You have been associated with television for 17 years. Wouldn't you miss it?

I am not planning to leave television to that extent. I can always have some serial on air. May be, like a weekly. The problem lies with the dailies. There is a lot of degeneration happening on television in terms of serials and characters, which I am not happy with.


You will notice that most of the actors of my time are now not seen much on TV. We have seen better times. Of late, I was frustrated with the way things were moving and was desperate for a transformation.

Wouldn't getting to the big screen restrict your performance to supporting roles? Do you see the potential to break the cliché of character roles?

For me that is not a problem. On television, even at the age of 29, I was playing mother to heroines. As for stereotypes, I think television is far more clichéd than films. The mother has to dress in a certain way. So too, the bahu and the bad woman.

Mostly television stars don't sustain in the Bollywood lights for too long, be it Mandira Bedi or Amarr Upadhyay. Let us face it -- there is only one Shah Rukh Khan.

You are talking about people doing lead roles. I don't fall in that category. Alok Nath has done films and television. Lilette Dubey and Smita Jayekar have also done both.

Are you saying so, keeping the age constraint in mind? That is not a problem these days.

True, there are older women today doing lead roles. But as far as films are concerned, an ex-heroine is more likely to bag a major role. If I do get the opportunity I will not fall short.

For someone who has never been big on the big screen, I will have to restrict myself to character roles and I am quite happy with that, as long as I have variety.

How was it working on Gangaajal? What is your character in it?

I have an important role, which is quite different from what people have seen me in. They have seen me as this glamorous woman clad in western clothes. But in this film I play this small-town widow. It is very different from even Kyon, where I play a modern mother. So it is a very big shift.

How was it working with Kalpana Lajmi in Kyon?

She is a very sweet person. She had told me right at the beginning that my role would be short. The whole lure was working with her.

You are working with Prakash Jha and Kalpana Lajmi, both of whom are known to have strong women characters is their films. Is it a mere coincidence?

This is what I was offered and I grabbed it. I was dying to work with these directors.

What are your upcoming projects?

Right now I am waiting for Gangaajal to release. There are other projects in the pipeline. I have not signed on the dotted line yet. I would rather let people see my work and then decide for themselves.

As I wrapped up my interview with Anita Kanwal, the bombshell mom of television, I had one last question. How does she define herself? Pat came the reply, 'I am a mother first. My children make me go.' LMN