| Actress Manasi Salvi at Hotel Hindusthan International. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
What happens when a third-year law student is gang raped and is advised by even her father to keep mum' She raises her voice, gets the case reopened and wrests justice. Then she opens a law firm where women lawyers fight for wronged women.
Manasi Salvi is doing all that on screen. She plays Sati Razdan, protagonist of Sahara One’s Sati. “Other than the social stigma, the problem rape victims face is lack of awareness. My character, for instance, was given a bath. That erased all the evidence.”
Shooting for a serial that treks off the beaten track of family drama has brought the Maharashtra Purashkar-winning actress face to face with the reality that is India. “We were shooting a female foeticide case in Deragaon, off Delhi. Polyandry is common there because of the lopsided sex ratio. We even saw a van that comes every month to do ultrasonography on the sly. The villagers shrugged off our effort saying, ‘Hamare gaon mein to yeh sab hota rehta hai’!”
Shooting for a daily soap means being on the job 28 days a month. “My timings are decent ' 9 am to 10 pm.” After that, she rushes off to shoot for Star Plus’s Viraasat or Saarrthi till midnight. Next morning, the alarm rings at 7 am, and off she goes again!
Married a year-and-a-half ago, Manasi manages to juggle family and work. It helps that the director of the soap, Hemant Prabhu, is her husband. “But he yells at me if I get my lines wrong,” Manasi is quick to clarify.
In Calcutta for the second time in three years, Manasi recalls how the Prratima unit was mobbed in Bhowanipore. Since Raja Mukherjee was the producer, people thought sister Rani had come, too.
Lack of public toilets on city streets hit them hard. “During a night sequence at Victoria Memorial, Negar Khan and I needed to go to the loo. Raja pointed to the dark Maidan. We fought and arranged a ride to Taj Bengal, which was the nearest option.”
Her next big-screen venture in Marathi, Aai Shapath, co-starring Reema Lagoo and Sreyas Talpade (of Iqbal fame) releases this month-end. But the 26-year-old has already decided to retire after Sati. “A title role, my pictures on hoardings all over Mumbai... It can’t get any better.”