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Friday, September 22, 2023

Chhavi Pandey on Ladies Special: Any Girl from India Can Relate to the Show

Chhavi Pandey, a trained Kathak dancer and professional singer, is no stranger to Indian television.

Over the years, we’ve seen her in notable shows such as India’s Got Talent, Ek Boond Ishq, Bandhan and Silsila Pyaar Ka, to name a few. 

Now, the actor is set to play the lead again in season 2 of Ladies Special on Sony TV.

Ladies Special first premiered in 2009 as part of a major revamp on Sony TV. Now, nine-years-later, the show is back covering the life we know today. 

The show is based on the lives of three ladies who happen to meet in the ladies special compartment of a local train in Mumbai.

The focus becomes on how strangers become friends during their regular commute in local trains and how they start sharing their life stories with each other

Unlike other roles, Chhavi will be portraying a character true to her roots in Patna, Bihar and she tells us more.

What persuaded you to do Ladies Special?

The content of the show is strong and is made in a very natural way.

It’s the first time I’m doing a non-glamorous role on TV, comparatively to what I’ve done in the past.

I chose to do this after playing the main lead in previous serials is because it doesn’t have unnecessary drama just to increase the TRPs.

Whilst the show primarily entertains, we also convey a message.

This show has a different concept. There are three girls who belong to different cultures: Marathi, Gujarati and I get to play where I originate from on the show as I’m from Patna.

Plus, the main protagonists that have been chosen are from their original roots.

Each actor gives a flavour of their own culture.

You play Prathana Kashyap in the series. Tell us a bit about your character?

Prathna is a small-town-girl in her 30s, who is the breadwinner.

She doesn’t think about her dreams (including the idea of marriage) for her family – consisting of parents and younger brother – and started earning at an early age.

To look after her family is a huge responsibility so she sacrifices and dedicates her life by looking after it.

In real life, (because I’m also a middle-class girl) if something ever occurs in life, I will always choose my family first.

All in all, Prathana is a very sacrificial, loving, maturing and caring girl who is always straight-to-the-point.

She maintains a strict persona and doesn’t quite show that she’s loving.

If we talk about me, I’m not somebody who is practical… I’m more of an emotional person.

I could resonate with it as well because my real-life father is a singer, my real father is too!

Moreover, I had to sing for my audition, which I could do because I’m also a singer.

How is your camaraderie with the other members of the cast – especially Girija and Bijal?

They are amazing. When I first shot the promo with them, I felt very comfortable and it didn’t feel like I was meeting them for the first time.

We had a lot of fun during the promo shoot and now we have started shooting regularly for the episodes so we’re having a blast on set.

There is also no competition between because all three of us are so very fun-loving girls.

We are very coordinative with each other.

Our bonding and friendship in the series will be portrayed in such a beautiful way.

The first season received critical acclaim. How do you hope this season will live up to the expectations?

There is no comparison between both the seasons – that instalment was completely different, especially the cast.

The time then was also different. Now, they’ve kept it in a very natural way including the story and concept.

But I can also say that content-wise this series is very nice and relevant to today’s society.

People, in particular, any girl from India can relate to the show.

Television has played a major role in your life – first appearing on India’s Got Talent and then Ek Boond Ishq. How difficult has it been to breakthrough into the industry?

Initially, it was very difficult especially given that I belong to a middle-class and conservative family.

I never really thought of acting because I always wanted to become a singer, so music and singing have always been my first choice.

Sonali Bendre has played a major part in my life as she complimented me and suggested that I should try acting as well.

At that point, it hit me and tempted me to try out acting.

I then tried to convince my parents, even though I knew that my father would not accept it. Thus, I asked my mother to console him.

My parents were apprehensive about it because they knew how extremely difficult it is to break through. Dad refused but my mother continuously tried to convince him.

He eventually gave me a one-year deadline. If I didn’t get work within that year, then I would’ve had to come back home to Patna and so I agreed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get work for 9 months. When seven months passed, I felt slightly disheartened, but being the positive person I am, I strongly believed that some magic would happen.

Then one day I auditioned for Ek Boond Ishq. Subsequently, I was finalised for the part.

When my mother told my father that the promos were on the air, he was in disbelief. But after seeing it he called me and felt very apologetic.

He feels very proud of it, though he always wanted me to play a girl from Patna (which is now happening).

Finally, given your circumstances, what message would you like to convey to all the small-town-girls out there who aspire to make it big?

I just want to tell all the budding actors out there that they should stay confident. You are no less than anybody else.

Believe in yourself, have faith and courage… Never give up on yourself because we are only given one life so we’ve got to enjoy it.

For small-town-girls, it can get difficult to handle parents.

I know it is difficult we women are so mentally strong that we can achieve anything we seek. Therefore, it is important one maintains that confidence and courage.

All the best Chhavi for the show and forthcoming projects.

Special thanks to Optimystix Entertainment, Vipul D Shah, Rakesh Juneja, Hemant Kevani, Barkha Thakur and the entire team of Optimystix for facilitating the interview.

Ladies Special airs on Sony TV every Monday to Friday at 21:30 GST.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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