From the age of seven, Ulka Gupta has faced the camera and the pressures that came with it. Be it Saat Phere—Saloni Ka Safar or Jhansi Ki Rani, she left a lasting impression as a child actor. As an adult, she had headlined various daily soaps, and played pivotal roles in films including Simmba (2018). But the thirst to act is still unquenched. In conversation with mid-day, Gupta talks about her new show Main Hoon Saath Tere that highlights the plight of single mothers, and why acting has made her “a free bird.”

Edited excerpts from the interview.

From being a child actor to playing a mother, the journey has been arduous. How would you describe the highs and lows?
I’ve not reached the point yet where I can have my own philosophy, but I have one. I believe no effort ever goes in vain. What you do, learn and experience, including rejections and failures, teach you something and mould you. People ask me why I am working in reverse gear, doing films, OTT and television. However, I’ve felt like a free bird from the time I became an actor. I feel that’s exactly how an actor should be—indiscriminating to any medium or platform.

Do you feel TV content has become regressive or at least repetitive?
I agree. That’s why I have refrained from taking up something typical. My filmography is diverse. I have never judged a show on [whether the story has been done before or not]. I believe whatever works for the society in terms of entertainment, works. Maybe that is where the audience finds their relief. We love listening to old melodies and their remixes. [Similarly, we can like watching the same story packaged differently.]

In daily soaps, women are always presented as the ideal bahu/daughter/woman. Isn’t that putting too much pressure on women?
The pressure of perfectionism is definitely unfair. Personally, it has been hammered into my head too. In television and movies, [women] have to be tolerant, always compromise, and still keep giving. To be giving and loving are good virtues, but tolerating everything is too much. But it also matters as to who our audiences are. Television predominantly caters to tier-II and -III cities, and they are culturally and socially at a certain stage. We have to deliver what they like. If this is the value system they hold, we can still inject some nice ideas within the same story. TV is also responsible for having influenced people’s mindsets [in a positive way]. Main Hoon Saath Tere is on that very track.

How does your show positively influence the audience?
Single women are not credited enough for all they do. Instead, they are only bothered, questioned and often at the receiving end of so much hatred. The show talks about her strength and the challenges she faces.

Why is there a need to show the male protagonist then? Why can’t a woman’s life on screen be complete without a man? 
The story is not [trying to show] that a woman is incapable [without a man]. I have seen so many single mothers [brave it out]. It wasn’t distant from me when I had to do this role. Not saying that my father [was entirely absent], but my mom brought up three kids. I know of her being a single mother taking care of all of us. Main Hoon Saath Tere is a love story, centred on a single mother. Female and male energy can co-exist, and might need each other. We have to be patient to one day show the LGBTQiA+ stories [on television].

Is the audience influencing content or the other way around?
I believe it works both ways. However, most of the time, content is [determined as per] the audience.

Source link