Scripts are created by writers, but the written word is brought to life by the director and the actors. Often actors treat the script as a source of dialogues to learn, and cursorily consider the writer?s notations about the character and then look to the director for instructions. In the case of an average script and average actor, we get an unimpressive performance and a run-of-the-mill show, which may be an audience pleaser, but not one of any merit or substance. But a good script with wonderful characters, enacted by actors of caliber, merit more than just casual attention. Such are instances, when the actor has not just studied the script, but has risen above it and the result is almost always a memorable performance. Maybe reason enough for a casual viewer to watch the serial. Mind you, these characters are as roguish as they come and the challenge is more daunting because these are women characters.
Meghna Mallik played the high handed Ammaji in Na Aana Is Des Laado with such force, that when at some point she steps in as Anjali a bit actress, who impersonates Ammaji, it was difficult to imagine that the same actress could also be gentle and soft spoken. Her on-screen power dressing with layered clothing, hid her svelte looks. Sure, she put on weight to play the heavy built Ammaji who wielded swords and guns with panache. Ammaji wasn?t the most popular character, but as a performance it was commendable. But now she?s stuck with negative roles, as she is in Gustakh Dil, where as Barkha she is the scheming socialite.
Surekha Sikri, a two time National Award winning actress will ever be remembered as Dadisa/Kalyani Devi of Balika Vadhu. An advocate of child marriage, and everything regressive in the early episodes of the series which started in 2008, Kalyani Devi?s journey to an enlightened, progressive person was developed coherently along with the narrative. It is unimaginable, who else could have played Kalyani Devi with such conviction.
Among the finely etched women characters on television today are Ekadashi played by Krutika Desai Khan and Pratima Kazmi? Sumitra Devi aka Nani in Uttaran. These characters are outstandingly played by two actresses who most actresses would find difficulty in holding a torch to for these roles.
Nani is the epitome of the menacing, meddling family elder who attaches herself to the family and weaves a web of suspicion, hatred, negativity and insulting as she keeps referring to Vishnu as phatichar! Damini and her family are mocked as living off other people?s crumbs. Forgetting that she too is the beneficiary Jogi Thakur?s charity.She was at her Machiavellian best, when she forced Ichcha to let Tapasya take her place in the mandap beside Veer! Pratima Kazmi will find it tough to match this role.
However, Uttaran?s piece de resistance character is Ekadashi. To what lengths would an actress go to play the role of a young widow in a remote feudal homestead? Krutika Desai Khan went bald as widows in conservative regressive society were duty bound to do. Ekadashi is a mean vengeance machine who makes her young son Akash promise that he will wreak vengeance on Ichcha and her family for being the cause of his father? murder. As a reminder of her misfortune she shaves her hair. When Ekadashi is introduced, the full tressed grieving silhouette is replaced by bald, bitter a woman who lives for vengeance. Each time she speaks she spews hatred for Ichcha and now Meethi. It?s not just her dialogue with its linguistic nuances, which she delivers with force, that mark her performance; her expressions are never the same. She shows her menace through her eyes, sometimes clouded with hate, sometimes gleaming with menace. A versatile actress, Krutika has truly gone beyond the demands of the script to deliver an exacting portrayal.
These women of grit give that edge to our daily prime time fix.