Jhatka, matka & me

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  • Published 23.09.08
Kitu Gidwani. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Mention Kitu Gidwani and a bright sophisticated beauty comes to mind. One is reminded of a range of chic and classy screen personae — an air-hostess on an emotional ride, a mistress under attack, a spoilt brat — all hailing from the good old days of Doordarshan when it produced serials like Air Hostess, Swabhimaan and Junoon.

So when one hears of Kitu Gidwani signing up for a dance reality show, it raises eyebrows. “I am so proud of myself — jhatka, matka, I did everything,” Kitu rolls her eyes. The show is Saas vs Bahu on Sahara One (Monday-Friday, 8pm), which pits screen mothers-in-law against daughters-in-law.

The trained Latino dancer can take pride in picking up Bollywood fare but she lacks firepower when it comes to shooting from the mouth. “The other saas-es (Kitu’s teammates) like Shoma (Anand) and Himani (Shivpuri) are divas when it comes to giving it back. They eat up the bahus without scripts. But all I can tell my bahu (Daljeet Kaur, of Kulvadhu) is a lame ‘I did not like your dance’,” she says, mimicking herself.

No wonder Kitu would get voted out within three weeks. Even on the eve of her elimination, she is more enthusiastic about talking of a play that she hopes to stage. “It is young, hip and intelligent.” More like Kitu, one would say. But the big hurdle has been co-ordinating time of the four actors, all busy with television. “Four months have gone by and we have not had a single rehearsal. One should do a reality show on actors in Bombay trying to put up a play. One actor would not accommodate his time to suit another as that would hurt his ego. Yes, there would be enough masala,” she trills.

Theatre is where her heart clearly lies. “But nobody has time to practise. We are all busy making money. Bollywood makes superficial stuff. If there is no theatre who will talk about the real problems? Even the audience has put its mind in a box,” she complains.

Talk turns to the crowning moment of her film career — Dance of the Wind, which won awards in international festivals and got her a best actress trophy in France in the late 90s, before festival-hopping came into fashion for directors and working in the West for actors. “How long back was it?” she asks. The answer — 1998 — draws a grimace. “So long back?” she says, mouthing an expletive. “Dance of the Wind will never get released in India,” she sighs. No one had told her that the film had indeed got a low-key release this February, 10 long years after it was made. That gets her talking about films that are sure to release. She is in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion, running a modelling agency. She is Mithun Chakraborty’s daughter-in-law in romantic comedy Phir Kabhi.

Bring her back to Saas vs Bahu and ask her if it hurts the sensibilities of an actress with such an eclectic oeuvre, and she pauses. “Yes, it does,” she admits, “but one has to work.” Her ebullience surges back the next moment. “I will not get an Oscar for it. But it’s better than washing each other’s backsides in Bigg Boss!” There is a silver lining too. “My New York-based boyfriend hates Bombay but is thrilled that I am doing a Bollywood show. After all this, this is what it comes to,” she signs off, amused and aghast.