Actor Anoop Soni shot into the limelight on the small screen in soaps such as Sea Hawks and Saaya. In 2001, he took a short sabbatical from TV and made a bid to get movie roles. But he quickly returned to television and now he plays an ACP in CID-Special Bureau (Sony) and a professor in Remix (Star One). Nevertheless, his search for meaty scripts in Bollywood has not been in vain and he appeared for a cameo role in The Godmother and will soon seen in Prakash Jha's Apaharan and Nitin Manmohan's Tathasthu. He's a product of the National School of Drama.
Ritu Soni is from an air force family and studied in different schools around the country. After graduating from St Francis in Hyderabad, she moved to Pune to do an MBA from Symbiosis. She met Anoop in 1998 when she was working at Lintas and they got married in September 1999. A little later, she opened her own software company, Footspring Information Systems. Balancing work with the pressures of marital life has not been a cakewalk, but as Ritu says, she puts one thing on her plate at a time.
When I first met Ritu, she was a fresher from Symbiosis, Pune, who had just joined Lintas. I happened to be doing an endorsement with the company and she was handling my account. We started interacting so regularly that we became friends. It remained that way for about a year and a half till we both felt there was more to our relationship than just friendship. But there was no proposal or any such stuff. But we finally got married in September 1999.
I was an actor but I was not a star. So I was apprehensive about how my prospective father-in-law, an Air Force officer, would react to me. He had seen me on television already. Ritu took me over to meet her parents who were posted in Trivandrum at the time. When her father came to receive us at the airport, it was funny because on the way home I was saying something and he was talking about something else. We didn't know what to talk about. I stayed at the Air Force Mess. And I remember Ritu telling me later that her father had asked her whether she was serious about me or whether she was just testing me. Now her father, brother and I are on the greatest terms though I don't get to see them often. They live abroad.
When we got married, we were both starting out in our individual professions. She left advertising and ventured into software while I was acting full time. So we shared a lot about our professions which are absolutely different. Trust was an important factor in our relationship from the beginning. My wife knew she was marrying an actor, so she would have to live with the ups and the downs. In the beginning, I made sure I had my Sundays off. Now I can take any day off during the week because Ritu has opened her own company. And we also have a one-and-a-half-year daughter to take care of.
The thing that I admire about my wife is that she is very clear about what she wants. So when she was pregnant, she decided that she would not go back to a nine to five job. She worked till the last month of pregnancy and put in her papers. After the baby was born, Ritu took a year off and then launched her own company. I consider myself lucky. At the same time I am happy that she didn't sit at home.
We have just bought a new house. I have to say Ritu is very patient and takes care of all the contractors and the labourers. I am sure I wouldn't be able to do it so smoothly. She is nice to them and yet knows how to get the job done.
We do have our occasional fights. But when you are living under the same roof how long can you ignore each other' What matters is how one reacts to a particular situation. We usually come around on our own when we realise where the quirks lie. But when she is angry, Ritu becomes Ritu Duggal.
How we became friends is a tale in itself. Anoop had to sign a contract as he was modelling for an ad that we were handling. He said he would have to take a look at it properly. Now I know that all these models just sign contracts, they really don't read them. Anyway we went out for lunch. For the next three hours we talked about everything under the sun except the contract.
We became very close buddies, completely at ease with each other. There was no putting up false fronts with him. When I started getting proposals for marriage, especially one from an old friend of mine, I discussed it with Anoop. I always had very romantic ideas about marriage having grown up on a healthy dose of romantic comedies. Anoop asked me to go ahead. But somehow I didn't feel right about it.
And the decision to marry him wasn't easy either. First of all, we are from vastly different backgrounds. My parents were not keen on me getting married into a business family, leave alone the fact that the guy was an actor. But at the end it really didn't matter. The first six months after marriage, it was kind of tough. There would be frequent arguments and fights. We had a deal then. That we wouldn't sleep over a fight. We stuck to it for a long time. Now the story's changed.
Our one-and-a-half-year old daughter Zoya is almost zero maintenance. Since Anoop is busy almost all day, it is me who takes care of her. But when he gets free time he loves playing with her. He is a very sensitive husband. My first birthday after our wedding is a special memory. He had planned a big surprise for me. So I found my friends from Bangalore, Pune and all over, and my brother from Gujarat there to celebrate with me. I was so touched. I am very fond of cooking. On a recent birthday, Anoop got me books by foodies such as Sanjeev Kapoor. He even made it a point to meet each of them and get the books personally signed for me.
We are two very different people with very different tastes. Yet it's surprising how well we came together.