By Siddhi Jain, (IANS) Indian television actress Gulki Joshi, who started out her acting career with theatre, believes that on stage, “you have to be a lot more alert, keep practicing, and get more finesse to your acting.”
The ‘Phir Subah Hogi’ actress appears in Zee Theatre’s ‘Purush’, a play about breaking stereotypes and standing up against the powerful who are arm twisting the powerless using any means possible. The teleplay is a social commentary on universal issues of gender politics, patriarchy, and caste discrimination. ‘Purush’ features veteran actor Ashutosh Rana as the diabolical politician Gulab Singh and Gulki Joshi as the resilient social activist Ambika Bhagawat.
Set in Meerut, UP, in a middle-class Brahmin home, the teleplay creates a layered narrative as the plot explores a number of glaring ideologies that plague men as well as women in Indian society. In a regressive and unyielding scenario, Ambika not only fights for herself but also stands up for other women who are subjected to injustice or oppression. Her fight against the corrupt and misogynistic Gulab Singh is aided by others like her who never give up and eventually find a way to gain justice.
Speaking to IANSlife in an interview, Gulki shared: “I started my acting with theatre. I remember, I started doing theatre while I was studying at Mithibai College, Mumbai. There I got a chance to be part of many plays and later I entered TV. Both are absolutely different forms. On TV, you get the chance to improve and take as many retakes you can but in theatre, once the play is live you have no room for retakes.”
She shared about the lead role she plays in ‘Purush’ – which she calls a story of a very educated and strong-headed girl who falls in the trap of political power play. “She becomes a victim of rape and then picks up those shattered pieces and fights back. I had to prepare emotionally in a lot of ways, first of all, understanding all the ups and downs and the front and back journey of this character and adapting to it because being a rape victim is something that you only read in the newspapers and cases that you hear stories about. But what it feels like, it is impossible to understand and I hope nobody has to go through that. Getting into that mind-frame that if something like this has happened then how did it happen and then performing accordingly was very difficult and I had to do a lot of emotional preparations,” she explained.
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I have been waiting for this to release! One of the most challenging characters to play and so much fun. Watch it on @zee5 premium!! Thanks @zeetheatre and @m100rabh for this wonderful opportunity! @m100rabh @imsarafneha @krantiprakashjha @ashutosh_ramnarayan @deepakqazirhotmailcomdeepakqaz
In the context of the role she plays on stage, the TV actor shared her views on the social status of women, and asserts that it is getting better in India for the past two generations. “But still, a lot of work needs to be done especially when it comes to the context where it is still believed that the women who do housework have no bigger role in society, the women who are working outside who are given more respect. I feel all parents should educate their daughters to stand up for themselves. Women shouldn’t be discriminated in terms of money. It is slowly changing but we still have a long way to go.”
Asked about her experience working with the acting veteran Ashutosh Rana, she recalls: “In personal life, he is a very sweet and humble being. He made me feel so comfortable from day one especially during those physical abuse scenes, in which any girl can feel uncomfortable. But he made sure that everything happens according to me and I feel comfortable at all times. It was an absolute pleasure working with him.”
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How does Gulki think COVID has changed the world of acting and entertainment? “COVID has changed the entire world as we all knew it. Earlier there used to be around 70-80 people on the sets, now it has been reduced to 30-40 people wearing masks and shields. It is so difficult to recognise anyone’s face on the set. Unfortunately, this has affected everyone but especially people who are doing live performances, orchestras are all out of work, I really feel bad for them. But once we find the vaccine, things will come back to normal slowly. I feel we should be a lot more careful with proper hygiene. We shouldn’t lose hope.”
On a lighter note, the 30-year-old actor opened up about her time in lockdown, which was spent in learning new dishes and “all kinds of kitchen work”. “I practiced Yoga because I wanted work on my flexibility again. I got myself to read, my books which were kept in my cupboard for a long time. I got time to get in touch with my long-lost friends through video calls. I think I spent some good and substantial amount of time with myself which is the one thing I was dying to do for a long time,” the actress concluded.
Zee Theatre’s Purush is available on Zee5. It will be aired on Airtel Spotlight on August 29.