Varun Badola and Shweta Kawatra play a hilarious couple in `Soni Mahiwal'
What does Sohni Mahiwal bring to your mind? Romance, perhaps even tragedy on second thoughts. But comedy? Well, not quite! But steering clear of the fabled tag on Sohni Mahiwal is Ronnie Screwwala's production house, UTV with a new series on Doordarshan's national channel, a comedy called Soni Mahiwal. A hilarious narrative of a Punjabi couple married for a decade, who share a love-hate relationship. Each episode of this weekly has a new storyline as the couple locks horns with each other on domestic issues that are so identifiable to many of us. Besides good comedy, there's an additional reason to watch Soni Mahiwal, aired every Tuesday at 9 p.m. Starring Shweta Kawatra and Varun Badola, the serial shows the couple exchanging witty repartees soaked in characteristic Dilli style as if the scenes are transported straight from a Karol Bagh household.Says Varun, "Both Shweta and I were selected for the serial because we belong to Delhi. The script of the soap is such that much of the humour lies in the delivery style of the dialogues." Varun, remembered mostly for his remarkable performance in the Zee TV serial, Astitva, though adds, "But any day, Shweta is better than me in the serial. She has a superb sense of the conversational style of a typical Punjabi couple, with perfect drawls and pronunciations."Laughs Shweta, "I am a Punjabi myself. So, it is somewhat easy for me to talk and behave like one. As Soni, I wear salwar-kameez of striking colours."Though Shweta is best remembered on Indian television as the scheming Pallavi in the Balaji Telefilms serial, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, she says comedy is a genre that she wants to explore with this role. "Playing a positive role in a serial is too boring now. You are always script-bound. I just can't carry on with glycerine in a nine-to-nine shift. But in a negative role, you can exploit your potential as an actor and so I took up the challenge. But Indian television has the habit of typecasting you and so I had to stop doing negative roles," she explains. Shweta then was seen as the host of a music top ten show on Sony TV, Current Bollywood and then quite a few other soaps including Fireworks Production's CID on Sony TV "for a change". She is now trying her comic skills with Soni Mahiwal. For Varun though, a comedy is not new. He was seen on Ek Chabi Hai Paros Mein on Star. He says he has no particular agenda as far as genres are concerned. "I just want to be seen doing good roles," he says. For both Shweta and Varun, Doordarshan is not a new field. While Shweta was seen in Bandhan on DD 1, Varun's performance as a disabled man in Shanti is well remembered. "I agree that for an actor, visibility matters and so we need to do serials for cable TV but we can't brush aside the fact that Doordarshan has its own viewers," says Varun. Shweta adds, "Every actor wants his share of stardom initially but having achieved that, most of them go for a good script than having any channel preference." And for this very reason, she will soon be seen in "a well-scripted" children's film. One will have to wait for a while to see Varun on the big screen though. Admits Varun, "No one has offered me any role in a Bollywood film so far." Considering that today's Hindi movies need more of a dancer and a charmer than a good actor, Varun doesn't hold much of a chance. We still remember how he abruptly stopped in the middle of a dance with wife Rajeshwari on the Star One show, Nach Baliye because he forgot the next step! Stay in step with Soni Mahiwal to know the lighter side of life though.SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY