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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Ladies Special: Bijal Joshi Oozes with Optimism as Bindu Desai

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.

In a special interview with Filme Shilmy, one of the lead actors Bijal Joshi opens up about playing Bindu Desai in her first Hindi daily soap.

You’ve done theatre, Gujarati films, TV and news anchoring. How were you approached for Ladies Special – which is your first Hindi daily soap?

I was doing a Gujarati theatre drama called Sambhav Asambhav in theatre and then I got a call from Optimystix.

I got excited on hearing the character brief.

I’ve always wanted to a role that’s on the lines of Geet from Jab We Met.

However, comparatively to Geet, my character Bindu is two levels up when it comes to being bubbly, talkative and innocent.

What does your character Bindu do to contribute towards the show?

Bindu is hilariously positive. She’s a happy-go-lucky girl, who talks a lot.

For her, not a single person is bad. Nor the situation, neither the person.

Even during the first night where her husband tells her that the marriage is a compulsion, she’s positive and accepting about it.

For Ladies Special, we convey that despite having problems in life, it can be handled in two ways: through crying or through smiling.

My character Bindu chooses the latter.

In my life, I’ve seen amidst friends that if a partner ditches an individual – that the person becomes shattered.

Bindu overcomes the hardships with optimism and realism.

How much of your actual personality is reflected in the role?

Bindu is actually me in real-life (laughs). I too am positive, bubbly and talkative.

For the character, I was assuming that I don’t have to work that much but it takes so much energy to play the role – especially because I had to work on the Gujarati accent.

There are times when I get multiple-paged dialogues which I have to recite incorporating Bindu’s bright smile, tone and enthusiasm.

Though it takes a lot of energy, it gives me satisfaction as an actor and I’m happy that I am doing this role because somewhere Bindu’s thought-process is helping me.

Her character is helping me to become more selfless and understanding of other people’s emotions.

Bindu is helping me a lot.

Does the character aim to break stereotypes regarding the on-screen portrayal of Gujaratis?

I have observed that Gujaratis are frequently portrayed to play Garba at the most random points when we don’t actually do that.

There were characters in the past which used to be loud and all, but Bindu isn’t. She is a normal Gujarati girl who is occasionally loud, but I do it subtly.

I make sure that it doesn’t go over-the-top and dramatic. The audience can connect to Bindu and the accent is just not limited to Gujaratis – which one should never be ashamed of.

So when I heard the narration I loved it. Plus, my name was suggested by other production houses to this team – so I was very excited.

After my look test was successful and Vipul D Shah loved it, I got the show!

What do you hope to achieve/accomplish from doing Ladies Special?

In real life, I don’t just work for money, acting has always been my passion.

I’ve always wanted to do something which educates as well as entertains.

I would love my role Bindu to go down in television history as one of the most-loved characters.

All I expect/hope is to give someone a message or maybe my journey might inspire someone at the same time I just want the audience’s love – for which all of us artists work hard!

Gujarati cinema is currently on a revival given the successes of Wrong Side Raju and Gujjubhai Most Wanted.

How do you feel about this increasing interest and has it been a long time coming?

There was a time where we were not even aware of Gujarati movies – especially the youth.

Back in that time, typical Gujarati films were made which used to consist of kediyas, Ghagra Cholis and Garba – the stereotypical tropes.

The content was not good enough for the youth to be able to relate with.

Chhelo Divas was path-breaking and so was Bey Yaar. At one point, even I was sceptical to watch Gujarati films (Bey Yaar in particular) and it took a lot to convince me to watch it.

I eventually watched Bey Yaar and I was pleasantly surprised and touched. It seemed just like a Hindi movie. That changed my perspective on Gujarati cinema and I’ve done a couple of them.

The cinema does have content and talent, it the only issue is that Gujarati people don’t have that same affection for their language as much as the South-Indian and Marathi people have.

There was also a time when people felt ashamed or shy about even announcing that a person is going to see a Gujarati film.

After a few successful projects and changing times, people have become more accepting.

Many have also started listening to Gujarati songs and can connect… Even big Bollywood singers like Arijit Singh have sung for films like Wrong Side Raju.

Good days have come for Gujarati cinema and we are taking baby steps so it will take time to grow.

Any projects in the pipeline?

I’ve always said that we need to have more female-centric films in Gujarati.

I have been approached for this social drama film which showcases two female characters.

It’s planned to go on floors during March.

Here’s wishing Bijal all the very best for the show.

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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