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In first person

A heart-to-heart with Smriti `Tulsi' Irani who was in town recently

"Tulsi, Nandini ki shaadi kis se hogi? Uske liye Karan thik rahega. Nandini ki shaadi usi se karwa do (Tulsi, whom will Nandini marry. Please ensure Karan marries her... he is right for her)," suggests a 50-year-old lady to Smriti `Tulsi' Irani during a brief interface with the viewers during her recent visit to the twin cities. Another 12 year old approaches her with awe, unable to differentiate between reel and real life.

For many, Tulsi Virani, the bahu of the Virani family, married to Mihir, the eldest son of Mansukh and Savita Virani, stands for the ideal bahu that any Indian family would dream of, and echoes the plight of many a daughter-in-law dealing with familial power games, scheming relatives and resulting emotional upheavals that mark their day-to-day life. Well, they find succour watching her emerge stronger by every passing episode.

"That's because they feel I am a part of them. But I think, every woman, be it a wife or a mother, has lots of emotional strength to deal with her successes and failures that she takes in her stride," says Irani. Exactly the mantra that has helped her bounce back after the Chandni Chowk seat debacle. "Victory and success are bound to be there. I was in an organisational capacity for the party. And what I could not learn in 20 years of living, I discovered in two months during the elections. I have learnt humility, hard work and reaching out to people. Earlier, I was always more of a family person, not very social though I worked with social organisations such as Helpage India, providing local support for the aged, destitute and children, without any publicity. Owing to elections and television I get to meet more people now," she reflects. And its been a long journey for Smriti, from landing up among Miss India finalists, working with McDonald, on commercials and finally playing a central role in the high TRP soap--she incidentally won the ITA Awards 2003 for best actress for KSBKBT.

"I wanted to be a TV journalist but anyways I am there," she says currently working on several pilots, including Kavita, a show on working women, and the popular on air SAB TV's Kuch Diiil Se and KSBKBT— the former dealing with extra-marital affairs, divorce and custody of children and the latter, a melodrama. "Kuch Diiil Se is a reality. There is a lot of me in it. Kyunki is me without my temper. Incidentally I try to practise what I profess in Kyunki."

"For example bringing up my children following the same vital principles as simple as going to bed early," she says. The very thought of son Zohr and daughter Zoish brings a smile across her face. "Earlier when we were children, I used to wonder why my mother never got tired talking about us."

"Now I can go on about my children," she says as she looks forward to be with them, as also to finish Bill Clinton's biography My Life. "Heard he talks about his humble beginnings and emotional baggage. But I would really like to know what great leaders like him are made of," she says.


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