For the TV stars, the year that was one that augured withdrawal symptoms of sorts. An industry that is used to working up to 16 hours a day suddenly had no work. The Covid-induced lockdown made everyone take a break, though not in an intended way. For the average actor of daily soaps, this was a drastic change in lifestyle, unprecedented and unexpected. Kumkum Bhagya’s Sriti Jha to Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain fame Aasif Sheikh, popular stars suffered too.
Most in the television industry decided to use the extended tenure constructively, to ward off psychological duress. While all shooting stopped, TV actors, in order to stay distracted from the sudden reality that they had too much free time at hand for comfort, used the time off to pursue different interests or polish their other skills.
For the Indian soap star, the year 2020 will go down as one that let them go on a trip for self-discovery and introspection. From Sriti Jha to Aasif Sheikh – some of the popular soap stars tell IANS what the year was all about for them:
Sriti Jha, known to fans as Pragya in Kumkum Bhagya, found her stressbuster in reading. “While I did not shoot for ‘Kumkum Bhagya’ due to lockdown, I read a lot of novels. I enjoyed spending time reading up and looking at beautiful sunsets. I also enjoyed watching a lot of different shows and series, but reading was the best part,” she told IANS.
Sriti’s co-star Mugdha, on the other hand, honed her cooking skills.
“I love experimenting with different cuisines, and during the break from ‘Kumkum’ shoot, I tried out my hand at a lot of new dishes. In fact, apart from my immediate family, I also shared food with friends and extended family and all of them had a great time munching on new delicacies,” she shared.
Aasif Sheikh has been essaying the role of Vibhuti Narayan Mishra in “Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai” without a break for years now. Lockdown came as a blessing in disguise. While he longed to get back to shoot, he also found lots of free time to spend with his family.
“I mastered the skill of cooking and would try out new recipes every now and then. It is one of the hobbies that helped me stay engaged and brought me closer to my family as well. My children were pleasantly surprised by their father’s chef side and my wife was relieved too to learn that I could do more than acting! I have always had a strong passion for food, so the lockdown gave me a chance to upskill myself,” Aasif Sheikh said.
She saw lockdown as a blessing in disguise. “For many years, I have only worked from morning to night. Lockdown let me know my home once again — being a mother and a daughter and a wife, being that whole thing once again,” said the “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” actress.
“During the first 21 days when we were at home, there were no doorbells ringing, no maids coming, no cook coming, nothing, so we as a family divided our household work. I myself am a fabulous cook and I never had the chance of trying it out, I got to do all that. We realised the value of our helps so much. I felt well-rested doing household work and eating only home food, I lost a lot of weight. Everybody in my family lost weight,” added the actress, now seen in “Indiawaali Maa”.
Lockdown, she says, was the busiest time of her life.
“I actually had a lot of time in hand and had to find ways to spend it productively — this was the weirdest phenomenon that I experienced. Having said that, I managed to use my time to cook and clean and even began working out at home. I did everything that I was not used to doing on a daily basis. We have a garden, and I started playing badminton with my family. I used to spend almost every night watching TV and web series till nearly 4 am,” she said.
“Neither did me nor my children ever get bored during this period and the main thing I focussed on was to let my kids have extreme fun in the house and not get irritated with being at home. They enjoyed eating all the stuff I cooked. Bhaktiyar (her husband) and I had a fabulous time watching some new English series or making new videos on different apps every day,” she added.
The lockdown period meant family time for him. “When quarantine was announced, my family was ecstatic to learn that I too will be at home for long. It truly made me realise how important it is to connect with your family. We started the tradition of eating all our meals together and playing board games every Sunday. I helped around the house as we distributed the chores. One hobby that I took on was dancing, my children one day turned on music and asked me to join in. It was great fun to shake a leg with them, had there not been a lockdown I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to do so,” he said.
Actor Rajesh Kumar has been part of many hit shows such as “Baa Bahoo Aur Baby” and “Sarabhai vs Sarabhai”. The year 2020 was one when he took to organic farming, among other things.
“One thing that I started this year and enjoyed so much was cooking. While cooking, eating and tasting, I turned into a good chef. I got back to cooking as I used to do when I was a bachelor and I used to stay alone in Mumbai. I had actually learnt cooking at that time and I still remember when I made something for the first time, it wouldn’t turn out really well. But that day I decided that I will ace my cooking skills and today I can proudly say that I love cooking. In fact, I help my wife in cutting and chopping vegetables and take charge of the kitchen. I make so many items in one go. Now, I don’t just grow food but I know how to cook the food too,” said the actor, who is currently seen in the show “Excuse Me Maadam”.
Sucheeta, who is part of the show “Indiawaali Maa”, developed a daily routine of cleaning and cooking. She also picked up tips on how to make pickles from her mother-in-law.
“I learnt to dry those special material sarees like zardozi sarees in summer so that they don’t get spoiled easily,” she said.
Lockdown stressbuster was all about spending time with family for Tanvi.
“I always resisted myself from cooking, but I decided to learn with the help of my father. Always cheering and encouraging my cooking skills, I learned how to make samosas and few more Punjabi dishes from him. This is how I spent my free time cooking and catching up on some movies that I missed,” said the actress.
The “Mere Sai” actor caught up with his passion of time listening to songs and reading, while also helping out the family with domestic chores.
Desai says he also used the lockdown stint to catch up with the right way to communicate amid the new normal. “There were various webinars which I was a part of on various platforms,” he explained.