Actor Rani Mukerji’s sister-in-law and producer Raja Mukerji’s wife, Jyoti, who was last seen in the 2005 TV show Prratima (2005), is returning to acting after a hiatus of 16 years. Jyoti, who took a break to focus on her children (Myesha and Viaan), will be seen in the daily soap, Tera Mera Saath Rahe. Jyoti has acted in almost 20 television serials, including Gharana, Kitty Party, Mulk and Aandhi. Pratima was produced by her husband.
Jyoti started her TV journey in 2001 with filmmaker Anurag Basu’s show, Manzilein Apni Apni, as the lead. While the part fell in her lap quite easily, this time around, she had to take the audition route before bagging the role.
“I have come back after 16 years and it’s been a challenging experience for me. It’s a new world right now as I am a struggling actor today. I cannot hug my children after coming back from work as I need to take a shower first because we have a pandemic going on. Life has really changed… When I wanted to get back to work, I realised that all the people that I had worked with, are not there in the television industry today. The creative department has come in, and now, it’s the channel's call… In my time the producers ruled. One thing that has changed because of the pandemic is do your own audition at home and send it to the production house. Like I had to audition for this role and many roles as I was trying to get back to work for quite some time. But I don’t know the production houses and they don’t know me so for them I am like a newcomer, wanting to come back to work,” she says.
Talking about her first break, Jyoti says, “For my first show, Anuragda [Basu] just offered me the role. He said he was starting a new show under his own production house and asked me if I was interested in doing that role. While I was sceptical as I hadn’t acted before, he was confident. Once I started working with him, he taught me everything from the camera angles to acting, so that is my school of learning. Anuragda is my mentor. Then another producer saw me and I got Gharana and Kitty Party so there was no huge struggle that happened.
Interestingly, in Tera Mera Saath Rahe, which will be aired on Disney+Hotstar, she see Jyoti starring along with the earlier Saath Nibhana Saathiyan cast including Rupal Patel, Gia Manek, Nazim Khilji, Vandana Botadkar Vithlani. While the second part of Saath Nibhana Saathiyan is on air on Star Plus, these actors have been replaced by the younger generation in part two due the leap in the story. Jyoti says, “While Kokilaben, Gopi bahu, Ahem and Gopi’s maami are repeated from Saath Nibhana Saathiyan, Tera Mera Saath Rahe is a completely new show and story by a different production house. All I can say about my role is that it’s a positive and interesting role. It’s a saas-bahu drama.”
Jyoti says she took a break from acting to raise her two kids. “After my children were born, I got completely involved in bringing them up, but then there comes a time when they grow up and have their own lives. Then you want to go back to work. But the process was not so simple because I don’t know anybody now. I had to reach out, connect, do auditions and tell people that I am looking for work. It was like starting all over again. I had to reintroduce myself saying that I was a TV actor and that I wanted to get back to work.”
Despite rejection and dejection, Jyoti didn’t ask her husband, producer Raja Mukerji, for help even once. “I don’t want to depend on anybody. Struggle helps an actor to evolve. Everybody has their own path and journey in life, where their own work satisfaction is concerned. There were many projects that didn’t work out. I must have given almost 40 auditions. So, I have gone through the grind of being rejected and the subsequent trauma that all this happens now. Sometimes a rejection would upset me a lot and I would wonder if I would really be able to come back. There was an anxiety or stress that was always niggling away my confidence as an actress. You want to do something, but you find lots of obstacles along the way. I was so relieved when I got the role in Tera Mera Saath Rahe. Till the time the shooting started I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I just wanted to cry when I went for my first day shoot. I will never forget those emotions – of wanting to desperately get back to work and it’s not working out.”
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