by MOHNISH SINGH

The road to name and fame is different for every actor. Some hit stardom by showing their acting prowess in films, while others become a household name after appearing on long-running television shows. Supremely talented actress Akanksha Puri proudly belongs to the latter category.

Puri started her acting career with Madhur Bhandarkar’s Calendar Girls (2015), but her career kicked into high gear when she appeared on television. The actress made her small screen debut Contiloe Entertainment’s mythological series Vighnaharta Ganesh where she plays goddess Parvati.

The Sony Entertainment Television series recently clocked 500 episodes, which is not a mean feat for a mythological show. To celebrate the feat, the channel organized an elaborate pooja ceremony on the sets of the show. Right after the pooja ceremony and a sumptuous lunch, Eastern Eye correspondent Mohnish Singh caught up with Akanksha Puri for a freewheeling conversation. In this interviews, the gorgeous actress talks in detail about her journey with Vighnaharta Ganesh so far, how has her life changed in the past two years and much more. Akanksha also spills the beans on her upcoming South Indian film. Excerpts…

 

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Your popular mythological show Vighnaharta Ganesh has just completed 500 episodes, which is sort of a rarity in this genre. How do you feel?

I think it is a big thing because nowadays most of the shows go off-air even before completing 100 or 200 episodes. Our show has sustained even after clocking 500 episodes and that too with great content and good TRP. We have been getting love and support from everybody since the very beginning. The audience has really loved our show. They have accepted various avatars that we have appeared in on the show so far. I really enjoy being part of such an amazing show. I enjoy shooting with my entire cast and crew.

Had you ever thought the show would become such a huge hit among the audience and clock 500 episodes?

It was a very different show for me. In real life, I am diametrically opposite to what I play on the screen. When I was approached for the role of Parvati, I thought somebody was trying to pull a prank on me. It was impossible for me to even imagine myself in that avatar. But I was surprised beyond belief when I saw myself in the getup of Parvati for the first time. People associated with the show really believed in me that I could play the part. The audience has also accepted me wholeheartedly. It’s great. Initially, it was a very different and difficult character for me because, as I said, I am not like Parvati at all in my real-life.

Did you have to work on your language to fit the bill because, generally, in mythological shows, all characters speak in chaste Hindi?

Luckily, that was a plus point for me. My command over Hindi is very strong. I belong to the state of Madhya Pradesh, so my command over the language is very good. Moreover, I come from an extremely religious family. I have grown up listening to stories and legends of our scriptures and mythology. Some of the devotional songs and bhajans I still remember by heart. So, my command over Hindi had been my biggest strength when I came on board to play Parvati. During my childhood, I used to get irritated to see havans and pooja round the clock. But today, I thank my mother and family for all those things.

 

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How did the show change your life?

This show has helped me mature as a person. It brought restraint to my life. Today, I am a lot more patient than I was before. I can understand and handle things more judiciously now.

Let me tell you that I had appeared in a song some two years ago wherein I had worn a golden bikini. I was famous as a golden bikini girl. I was cast for the role of Parvati exactly one month after that song released. It was challenging for me to slide out of that golden bikini image and get into the skin of a revered character like Parvati. I had to work on my looks and body language. To look glamorous for me is extremely easy. But to attain that godly image was very difficult for me. But I took up the challenge and that is why the audience is loving me in this character so much. They have loved me in each and every avatar and I am hopeful they will continue showering their love on me even in future as well.

You started your career in Bollywood and then dived into the television industry. Your show Vighnaharta Ganesh has given you name and fame. Do you think that television has succeeded in adequately tapping into your talent?

Yes, it has definitely done so. I would, in fact, say that it has done more than that. I have just finished shooting for my next South Indian film. It is a high-profile film made under the banner of one of the biggest banners down South. I will be seen in a completely different, action avatar in the film. I have done some high-octane action sequences that no female artist has ever attempted before and that too without using any stunt double. The film has been made on a whopping budget of ₹ 60-70 crore. It is scheduled to roll into theatres on the auspicious occasion of Diwali. I am looking forward to its release. I am doing yet another project in the South Indian film industry. So, I would not shy away from accepting the fact that Vighnaharta Ganesh has given me recognition because its dubbed versions air on television in Tamil, Telugu and several other popular languages. I had gone down South to attend an event of our show where I got this film. I am really happy that this show has given me so much.

 

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Would you like to spill more beans on your film?

It is an out-and-out action entertainer where the audience will see me in a grey shade for the very first. I have attempted something extremely different. I am sure the audience would love my attempt.

Amidst all of this, you must have been approached for several Bollywood projects also.

Yes, I received a lot of Bollywood offers in between, but I could not do them because of some restrictions. But you will soon see me in any film or a web-series.

 

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The set of your show is located in Naigaon and you live somewhere in Andheri. How do you manage to travel to and fro between Naigaon and Andheri every day?

Initially, it was indeed very challenging, but now it has become a routine. Some shows have their sets in far-flung places like Amgaon and Umargaon. So, I feel, Naigaon is still better and closer. It is true that it takes a lot of time travelling. It takes around 2-3 hours daily. But it is fine, we all have kind of accustomed to it now. It has become a part of life.