Decoding Popular TV Antagonists: Kavya is called a home-breaker, but 'log yeh nahi kahenge ki Vanraj ne do auraton ki zindagi barbaad ki'- Anupamaa's Madalsa Sharma

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Antagonists are an indispensable part of every Indian daily soap. While some characters are as real as they can get while some add a spicy tadka to the plot with their scheming and plotting. Well, indeed a show is incomplete without a strong antagonist. Maybe that's why we love to hate them! Now, in PeepingMoon.com's latest series, Decoding Popular TV Antagonists, we'll be introducing you to the real people behind negative characters. As we talk to actors and actresses, we'll be learning about their approach towards their character, impact on the audience, the response from fans and much more. The series will release every Friday, only on PeepingMoon.com. 

The first segment of Decoding Popular TV Antagonists features Madalsa Sharma, who is currently playing the role of Kavya in the popular daily soap Anupamaa. Madalsa, the daughter of renowned actress Sheela David and daughter-in-law of Mithun Chakraborty, made her TV debut with Anupamaa. With the show topping the TRP chart almost every week, people love to watch Kavya and resonate with her for being a modern-day woman who can fight for her rights. Kavya is now married to Vanraj (Sudhanshu Pandey) after he divorced his wife Anupamaa (Rupali Ganguly). 

Talking to PeepingMoon, Madalsa explained why Kavya comes across as a negative person for being a strong independent woman of today. Madalsa further agreed that the character of Vanraj has grey shades but people will never accuse him of destroying the lives of two women. 

Excerpts from the interview:

Anupamaa is your TV debut. Were you apprehensive about doing a negative role in your very first daily soap? 

Yes, I was apprehensive but when the character of Kavya was narrated to me, I didn’t find it negative. In the conventional sense of daily soaps, Kavya may come across as a negative person but in reality, when you analyse her, she is the modern woman of today and by falling in love with a married man, she reacts according to the circumstances that she is in. You see her fight for her rights and take a stand for herself, I don’t find that negative at all. That’s the reason I feel people are appreciating Kavya and loving her rather. The response I get from my fans is positive and they find Kavya a strong independent woman. 
 
In the past, you’ve done regional, Bollywood, a German film and a Punjabi film too before venturing into television. How has the transition been?

The transition from films to television has been a very big one since they are two different mediums altogether. When we shoot a two-hour film, it takes about 60-70 days minimum while in television, we shoot 20-25 minutes of footage every day which requires a lot of hard work and dedication on a daily basis and the results are beautiful as the audience gets to watch your performance every day and as an actor, you have the scope to perform and deliver so much. I’m truly enjoying television since I feel its reach is huge and the exposure one gets as an actor is beyond what I could imagine. 

 
Strong antagonists add a unique flavour and without them, a show is incomplete... 

There is no drama in any story without the antagonist. They are an important and strong part of the story and the plot because all the twists, turns and suspense that bind the audience or the viewership are majorly dependent on the antagonist. 
 
Anupamaa has been ruling the TRP charts since its premiere. Do you think the audience still wants to see woman vs woman as they used to in the early 2000s? 

Anupamaa has been ruling the TRP charts because it is entirely different from the plots and stories of the 2000s. Had it been Kavya in the early 2000s, she wouldn’t be so popular as today. The audience who is watching television now is young and progressive. Kavya also belongs to the current generation. She is someone whom we have encountered in our social life, in the office and in every class of society. This makes Kavya no lesser than other women. Sometimes I feel people like this character even more as they want to see strong women who are independent and can stand up for themselves. 
 
Has any popular antagonist/ grey characters on TV or in films inspired you to play Kavya? 

I haven’t studied any other character while playing Kavya. I got into the skin of the character by identifying it with today’s modern women where I felt it’s not as negative as some people might think of it. The times have changed, our superhero Mr Amitabh Bachchan is a product of grey shades that he has been playing in most of his successful films. Recently, Kangana Ranaut also played a few roles with grey shades which have been successful. 

 
Antagonists on Indian television are highly stereotyped. How do you make your character unique? Have you added some personal touch to Kavya? 

Most of the antagonists on TV are mostly inspired by yesteryear films in which actresses like Shashikala and others played the 'so-called' vamps. With Kavya, it’s entirely different. It has a grey shade which quite natural and situational. We all have a grey side to us, which comes out when we don’t find things going our way or when we feel we don’t get something we deserve and have worked hard for. Talking about Kavya, the grey shade is highlighted because most of the times we keep hiding it to appear nice. Kavya isn’t afraid to show what she’s made of and isn’t afraid of standing alone if needed. I found this very natural while playing Kavya and I didn’t feel the need to get inspired by anyone else. 
 
You come from a family of actors. Your mother Sheela David has been in the industry for years and has done varied roles. Did you take any leaflet from her acting bible? 

My mother is the person I’ve started my life with. I have seen her work since my childhood, I’ve attended her shootings, watch her pull off so many different kinds of roles so gracefully and that’s what has inspired me. I take every suggestion that comes from my mother very seriously and imply it in my craft. I did an acting course with Kishore Namit Kapoor to understand the technicalities of acting and polish my skills. 

 
Your father-in-law Mithun Chakraborty is a legend himself. Mimoh is also an actor. Is there some pressure that you can’t and shouldn’t do TV? 

Mithun dad has always inspired me to work. I was slightly apprehensive about when to resume work after marriage but he, Mimoh (Chakraborty/husband)and my mother-in-law Yogeeta (Bali, actress) mom inspired me in so many ways and that’s the reason I feel relaxed at work. 

 
Mostly on Indian television, antagonists are women. Do you feel society still considers women as evil and hence female antagonist are more popular? 

I don’t think any character becomes popular because it is evil or good. It is the character, the way it is written, the way people relate with it and the performance. I feel that’s the key to popularity. However, I feel the popularity comes when people start relating and identifying the character with general society. Also, it is because of the way it is portrayed on-screen by the writers, the director and the actor, it’s a combined effort. 
 
Many are of the opinion that Vanraj is also a grey character like Kavya. But, just because she is the second woman, all the hate gets diverted towards her...

Of course, Vanraj is a grey character. He is the one who creates adverse situations for Kavya that makes her react the way she does. As I said earlier, Kavya has a grey side just like others. We all carry the emotions that Kavya does. Be it jealousy, anger, the frustration of being in a space where we don’t feel comfortable, this is in all of us. Kavya is a real character and that is why she is popular. The same goes for Vanraj. People are identifying with him too. Every modern society has a Vanraj but, the relationship that Kavya shares with him is generally not spoken about in public. They keep it hidden, people don’t want to talk about such relationships and even families choose to not disclose it. The reason is our society is still biased towards women and they give leverage to men. Abhi bhi society mein kaha jata hai ki ek aurat ne aadmi ka ghar tod diya, she is a home breaker, but woh yeh nahi kahenge ki ek aadmi ne do auraton ki zindagi barbaad ki. This is the problem of the society we live in. That’s the reason Kavya comes across as negative. 

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