'I would last a long time in a show like Bigg Boss'
Television actor Apara Mehta swapped places with Sudesh Berry's wife Sarita in Maa Exchange, the modified Indian version of the sensational British reality show Wife Swap.
Apara and Sudesh tell Rajul Hegde their experiences.
Though we are from the same industry, I met Sudesh for the first time when I went to his home for the show Maa Exchange. I have lived in a joint family, so adjusting to his place and family wasn't a problem.
Even though they all live together, they don't have their food together because of their hectic schedules. That's not the case in my house.
In Sudesh's house, they have the typical mindset of women being a secondary figure. I scolded him for smoking hookah because the house was full of smoke. It was bothering their pet as well. I made some rules for him, including that he cannot smoke inside the house, which he didn't like.
I made another basic rule, which he and his mom liked. I suggested he give some money to his wife instead of giving everything to his mother. I told his mother that it's high time she shared that responsibility with her daughter-in-law. Both of them happily agreed to that. I am glad that I made some changes that will help his wife.
Sudesh is living with another woman but I didn't want to get into that. That's too personal to be discussed on a reality show. When I asked him about it, he said 'taali ek haat se nahi bajta.' He said that some day, he would like to meet up with me socially and discuss it.
His 24-year-old son Suraj is very pampered. He wants to become an actor but just smokes in the house.
I told him to make use of both actors (Sudesh and me) in the house. We had a workshop for him every evening and gave him a few tips on acting like body language and voice modulation.
Sudesh's mother gave me full marks for everything. She even told me that I would last a long time in a show like Bigg Boss because I don't have double face. I am very good at defusing tension.
After going back to my home, I learnt that my mom and daughter Kushali gave Sarita a good time. If she is able to absorb it, she will understand how proud it is to be a woman and have an identity.
What I liked about Sarita is she set a new rule for Kushali: that she should know to cook at least five Gujarati dishes. Now my daughter loves cooking and takes cooking lessons every afternoon.
Maa Exchange is interesting in this way. It's not necessary to fight to make it interesting.
Image: Apara Mehta with daughter Kushali
'Rumours about me living with a Russian woman is baseless'
When the offer came to me, I thought it would be a chance to show viewers the real me. But then 30 years of me (in the industry) cannot be shown in just eight days. After I was on board, I was taken aback because it turned out to be different from what I expected. But I took it as a game and played along.
The whole experience was a sweet labour pain, where I was under house arrest for eight days. I was not allowed to use my cell phone either.
Apara might complain that we men in the house do not do any kind of housework. But that's because we are brought up that way, pampered by our mothers. So we don't need to pick up our plates after meals.
I didn't like Apara's cooking, and told her that.
Apara set a rule that I cannot smoke hookah in the house. I started smoking hookah only after I started playing the character in Agle Janam Mohi Betiya. But I said that it's my house, and my habit, who was she to say anything.
We discussed many things during the stay but the issues regarding her husband (actor Darshan Jariwala) were personal for Apara. Apara is a self-made woman. I respect her for the way she took care of her mother and child.
My wife Sarita had a great time at Apara's place, and the freedom she got there. It was a sort of picnic for her, as she went to the beauty parlour and for drives.
The women in my house are not secondary figures. It's their choice not to work. They have their own recreational activities at home. Rumours about me living with a Russian woman is baseless. If I have a fan like the other actors, what can I do?
I have no problem if Apara goes about telling people that she has set a new rule in my house about me to giving a portion of my money to my wife, instead of my mother. All my wife's demands are fulfilled and she has never complained about taking money from her mother-in-law.
Sarita adds, "I had a great time because there were only three women in the house. But they talk too much and lack cleanliness. The daughter is a little irresponsible and carefree. Our house doesn't revolve around the maid; we are more systematic."
Image: Sudesh Berry with his wife Sarita