INTERVIEW The suave actor Kitu Gidwani tells BHUMIKA K. that superstardom and she weren't made for each other. She couldn't be imprisoned by it!
It's a face anyone who's seen serials on Doordarshan can't forget. (That just about includes every one born before the mid-80s!) The eyes dance with mischief and a thousand-watt smile lights up the face. The upturned nose just adds the final flourish to Kitu Gidwani's charm.
Still looking stunning, now probably in her 40s, Kitu was in Bangalore for the staging of Ballantine's presentation of the Pulitzer winning play “August: Osage County” directed by Lillete Dubey.
Many have followed Kitu from her debut on TV with “Trishna” in 1984, through “Air Hostess” and “Junoon”, and her transformation into the contemporary “other woman” Svetlana in “Swabhimaan”, the baap of all soaps in 1995.
When you think of her, the first thing you want to know is where she keeps disappearing to? Her choices have always been unusual — she starred in Govind Nihalani's “Rukmavati Ki Haveli”, did a film “Dance of The Wind” that won her Best Actress at the Three Continents Festival, Nantes. Everyone talked of how she had vanished till she popped up prominently again in the film “Deham” in 2001, in TV serials like “Kasshish” before making a comeback more recently in Madhur Bhandarkar's “Fashion” in 2008 and Kiran Rao's “Dhobi Ghaat.”
“I'm very much here. I'm not choosy about my roles, but I don't run after people for work. I don't push! They will come to me if they want a certain quality of work…I don't want to be a bimbo…I don't want to change my profile,” says Kitu animatedly, her eyes twinkling as she wrinkles her nose. But, she admits, “I'm not getting the big meaty roles still…It's exciting that I'm doing three films this year. That's not bad, quantity-wise, but I'm still waiting,” she shrugs and sits back in the chair. She started her acting career with theatre, doing French plays at first (she's even acted in French films). “Theatre makes my soul sing. You do films for money, glamour, fame, exposure. But theatre is a noble and spiritual profession, though in this kalyug it has the least impact in the public eye.”
The thing with Kitu is that she's not seen very often. So each time she appears on screen, there's a freshness to the role she plays. “I'm an extremely private person,” she agrees. “My inner life is so rich, it would be destroyed by primping for the cameras. I'm growing spiritually.” For the last 10 years, she's been learning to dance from Sandip Sopparkar; her latest style is the Tango. But she won't step into a reality dance show. “I don't want to ‘jhalak'…you know what I mean?” she gives a mean grin. She's learning to Tango, so that when she travels to places like New York, she can set the floor ablaze when someone asks her for a dance.
But not doing all the things an actor usually does in the film industry, hasn't she suffered a career setback? “I never took myself seriously,” she smiles her wide smile again. “Then again I'm not at every party to be photographed, I don't go to every store opening…the only reason I wish I had pushed was that then I would have got good scripts. There's a price to pay for every thing. I don't think superstardom and I were made for each other. Superstardom makes you a prisoner. I need my freedom. I wouldn't be able to handle it,” she's convinced. Elaborating she says: “I didn't do good PR with people who mattered. For me that was cheap. I learnt to be true to myself; I want to die happy.”
What is it then that keeps her looking more stunning than ever? “Because of all this…,” she flings her hands about. “If you're the driven kind of person, drinking and doing drugs like the rest of them, you'll have a heart attack at 50. But when you're really happy, you'll show.”