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Apara Mehta over 21 years previous Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi: I’m nonetheless referred to as “Saas No. 1”

“I have traveled all over the world and there is not a single person who has not seen Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. To her, I’m still Savita, ”said Apara Mehta, who played Tulsi’s mother-in-law on the legendary TV show Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Today the Star Plus show produced by Ekta Kapoor is 21 years old.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi may have been ridiculed and labeled as regressive for its insane storylines, but there is no denying that it has changed the way Indians consume television. Probably for the first time viewing appointments became a thing as families sat together to see the show. The show was later discussed at dinner, in office canteens, and even classrooms. The audience resonated with the story of Mihir and Tulsi and felt emotionally connected to the Virani family.

When Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi turns 21, Apara Mehta decodes the success of the show in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com.

Kyunki was a show that was meant to happen

I was doing Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka when I was called to Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. I wasn’t interested in recording another one every day. Also, they wanted me to play the mom of a 25 or 26 year old, so I wasn’t sure. However, it worked. Thinking about it now, I would have lost so much if I had said no. I think Kyunki was a show designed to get together with the right people at the right time. It made history and was a life changing experience for all of us. It also changed the way television was perceived.

Television’s OG ‘Saas Bahus’ – Sudha Shivpuri, Apara Mehta and Smriti Irani who played Baa, Savita and Tulsi, respectively. (Photo: Express Archive)

First saw the show during the lockdown last year

Last year some clips came up on YouTube and that’s when I sat down to watch Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. I don’t think either of us had time to watch TV during the show. As actors, we sometimes see a project and hope to get a role or shoot certain scenes. With Kyunki we have it all. While watching the show, I realized that I was there and doing everything. To be honest, as an audience I also had the feeling that the show was way ahead of its time, but the media, especially the English, described us as regressive. We would be named Saas Bahu Show in quotes. From remarrying a widow to being raped in marriage to having a mother killing her own son, I don’t think any show has ever dealt with these issues. We also presented the modern side of the traditional family where Bahus Pallu did not turn upside down. We were so advanced, and I think that’s why we took television to another level.

Ekta also changed the pace of storytelling, using the latest technology that made the show such a glamorous shine. For the first time ever, a series had a jump and even a crossover episode. To be honest, we didn’t even understand a lot at the time, but she had faith and a vision. Even my death scene on the show was a historical one that discussed the issue of euthanasia. I remembered it aired on a Thursday and then re-aired on Monday. Who gets such a see-off on a show?

Apara Mehta on the set of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Kahu Thi. (Photo: Express Archive)

To be the most loved and hated Saas in the nation

Savita was gray. It was neither black nor white. When Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi started, she loved Tulsi as the daughter of the pujari, but she wanted her son to marry Payal, who was of the same socio-economic background. I think all parents want this and so it took them some time to accept Tulsi as a Bahu. After the jump, they shared a pretty loving bond, with Savita leaving the house towards the end when her principles collided. However, she later accepts that Tulsi was right. During the Star Parivar Awards, where I was honored with an accolade, I spoke about what Kyunki has done to us and Indian television. I was later told that I had no right to make people cry.

People still call me Saas # 1

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi has given a lot to each of us. I made money and fame from the show. Take a look at where Smriti is today. When Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, I was invited to a quiet dinner at his house, and that doesn’t happen to ordinary people. I had told Ekta that the journey that started with Kyunki ended at the PM house. She replied that this was all of our hard work and that they were just catalysts. That was so humble and sweet of her.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi Team enjoys a Garba session. (Photo: Express Archive)

When I recently tried to register for my second dose, I had some problems. So I spoke to the corporator in my area who called me to this new center. When I got there, the MLA saw me and said that they cannot do the initiation as India’s ‘Saas Number One’ is here. So I cut the tape and was the first to get the dose. It was such a heartwarming moment for me.

Be friends for life

Every July 3rd we always have a reunion. Before, when Smriti came down, she would also meet us for lunch. We may not be in contact all the time, but there is so much love between us all. We have all grown and together we experienced another high point in our careers. Eight years is a very long time. The Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi Set was so blessed that we would eat candy every day as someone bought a car, bike, house, got married, or had children. Such experiences happen once in a lifetime. So when someone talks about Season 2, I say the magic would be hard to recreate.

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