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Posted at: Jun 22, 2017, 12:30 AM; last updated: Jun 22, 2017, 1:38 PM (IST)

A rebel on idiot box

As most Indian TV shows reinforce TV’s reputation as an idiot box, Doordarshan’s hard-hitting show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon offers respite. The Tribune Life+Style brings you the face of the ‘world’s most watched’ TV show — Meinal Vaishnav

Amarjot Kaur

The content of TV shows, on commercial channels, hit new levels of regression in a bid to shift away from traditional saas-bahu sagas to a more “experimental” space with mythological shows, historical dramas, and those about black magic. 

However, Doordarshan’s Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon happens to be the only saving grace for Indian television with more than 400 million viewers across 50 countries. The show, produced by the Population Foundation of India, handles India’s nagging social issues, bearing in mind the complexities of India’s layered society. 

Directed by Firoz Abbas Khan, the show has been translated into 14 languages and is broadcast on 240 radio channels. So much for The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) that placed Naagin—a supernatural drama based on shape-shifting serpents Shivanya and her cousin Shesha, or ichchhadhari naagins—on the top of their June-viewership list as a show with the highest TRPs!

When The Tribune Life+Style contacted Meinal Vaishnav, who plays the role of a young doctor named Sneha Mathur on the show, she was prompt to direct us to her assistant for a telephone interview.

“It’s the protocol we need to follow. Also, I am new to this. I worked in the corporate sector and was only one-advertisement old in the industry when I bagged this role. Blame it on my inexperience,” says the 31-year-old, who shares that she is the first woman in her family to go out and work. Evidently, she is the perfect fit for the role of Sneha Mathur on the show where she quits her job in Mumbai to work in her native village Pratappur. There, she battles many challenges and addresses taboos like menstruation, contraceptives, and masturbation. 

“The show discusses topics like post-natal depression, women’s health during pregnancy, drug abuse, and masturbation. Now, how many shows in India discuss sexual health and that too with elegance? That’s what I call a progressive show in a country that shows sanitary-pad advertisements with a blue liquid instead of blood,” she shares. 

Meinal says that she started working at the age of 18. “I come from a conservative family from Rajasthan. There, they don’t allow women to go out and work, no matter how educated they are,” says Meinal, who graduated in English and Hindi literature from a private college after she started working. 

Of how she bagged the role, Meinal shares, “I was working in a private company when a friend told me about an audition for HDFC ad. Soon after I did that ad, I started getting offers even for shows like Parichay in 2012. They offered me good money, but I didn’t like the script. Also, in 2011, I had returned to Rajasthan from Mumbai and Gurgaon after a six-month long troubled marriage that my parents forced me into. In 2013, I auditioned twice for Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon and bagged the role. At that time I had no idea who Firoz sir was—he had directed Tumhari Amrita, by the way. He looked at me and said: don’t act, just be natural” she says.

Considering that Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon is Sneha’s debut show, she is not bothered about being stereotyped as an actor. “I don’t care about what the society or people will think of me as an actor. Sneha is an extension of my character. She inspired me so much. I want to do shows that give something to the society, not take away from them like saas-bahu serials do. Money is not a criteria, especially for a woman like me who hasn’t even gotten a facial done, leave alone those expensive beauty treatments most actresses get done. Let’s just say I am not ambitious,” she signs off.

amarjot@tribunemail.com

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