An actor, a mother, a doting wife, a travel lover and a humanitarian – that’s Geetanjali Tikekar for you in five words.
Geetanjali Tikekar is one of the finest actors which Indian television has had in the 1.5 decades, and she continues to be so. You might know her as ‘Aparna’ from Kasauti Zindagi Kay, ‘Neelu Maa’ from Tere Liye or as Anjali Agnihotri from Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon..Ek Baar Phir. Geetanjali has been in the industry for almost 15 years now, and she has never let us down in any of the shows that she has been a part of. The India Diaries decided to have a little chat with her about this, that and everything else, and here’s everything you need to know!
The India Diaries: How would you introduce yourself? Who is Geetanjali Tikekar?
Geetanjali Tikekar: For the entire industry, I’m the ‘Recluse’ actor. I don’t like much attention, except for on the sets. If I’m not at shoot, I’m at home. I’m a very family-bound person. I’ve lived alone for a number of years, and I value the independence that I had but I value my family more now.
The India Diaries: You’re very selective about the kind of shows that you do. Is there any particular reason for that?
Geetanjali Tikekar: I do not want to be typecast. All the 12 shows I’ve done, they’re very different. You cannot compare Aparna Basu with Anjali Agniotri, or Tere Liye’s Neelu Maa or Kahin Toh Milenge’s Sanjana. I need to look myself in the mirror and be proud of the work I’ve done.
The India Diaries: Of all the shows that you’ve done, which is the one project which stands out?
Geetanjali Tikekar: It has to be Anjali Agnihotri’s character in Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon..Ek Baar Phir. The layers that the character had – I still cannot believe that I pulled it off. Even now, when I see the old episodes, I’m just like ‘Wow, I did this?’.
The India Diaries: How did your journey begin as an actor?
Geetanjali Tikekar: I’m a kind of person who lives in the moment. I never planned on being an actor. I never thought I had the aptitude or the attitude to become an actor. I was a Literature student at Symbiosis, and my plan was to either become a professor, or a writer or an IAS – something that any parent dreams of. But then, one day I randomly went for an audition in Pune and I got selected. I first got the role, and then I shifted to Mumbai. For the first two years, I stayed at YWCA because I was too scared to stay alone. However, the deadlines started to affect my work since I was with a daily soap, and shoots go on till late. So, that’s when I shifted to PG, then started staying alone. Every time I had one show, I thought to myself ‘Yeh Mera Aakhri Show Hai..’ but God was kind and I kept getting newer shows.
The India Diaries: What was the biggest driving force for you?
Geetanjali Tikekar: The fact that I was never insecure about now getting shows was what drove me towards good shows. The one thing that I could fall back on was my educational and academic background. I knew that if acting doesn’t work out, I could still get a job. That’s what I’d tell all the youngsters out there – Nothing is more important than your education.
The India Diaries: Why no reality shows?
Geetanjali Tikekar: Again, it was a very conscious decision. I cannot just serve up my dignity on a platter to the producers and wait for them to play with that. Plus, I cannot dance or sing, and I do not have patience with people who are having a one-sided conversation. I just want to retaliate and ask them who they are to judge me! So, it’s not my cup of tea. I’m better off with my daily soaps.
The India Diaries: The Indian TV industry today has gone down the drain in many ways. What are your views on that?
Geetanjali Tikekar: First of all, I completely agree to this. At an interview, Ekta was asked ‘Why do you make such shows?’ and she replied saying that it’s because the audience wants it. If people stop watching such shows, producers will stop making it. The audience needs to understand that the power is in their hands. If they want quality shows, they need to stop watching such shows.
The India Diaries: What next for you as an actor?
Geetanjali Tikekar: Tere Liye was quite a milestone in my career, and when it ended, I decided that I’ll not settle for anything that’s not as good as Neelu’s character. However, then Anjali happened and now that’s the benchmark. So something either as good as that or better!
The India Diaries: Who are your favorite co-actors?
Geetanjali Tikekar: There are two actually, even though most of my co-actors have been extremely good. First being Supriya Shukla and secondly Manish Wadhwa. Hadn’t it been for him and Waseem Sabit, Anjali Agnihotri wouldn’t have been the character that she is.
The India Diaries: Which are the most cherished memories that you have from your work?
Geetanjali Tikekar: For Kasauti, the best memory is of the response I got for the murder scene. I still cannot believe it at times that I actually pulled it off, with the song and everything. It got a tremendous response because Aparna’s character changed overnight! Also, with Karam Apna Apna, the best part was the shoot in Kolkata. Each and every show has made a mark for sure.
The India Diaries: Any aspirations of working in Bollywood?
Geetanjali Tikekar: No, not really. I do get calls for roles like ‘Hero Ki Maa’ and I’m just like NO! I can still play the mother in TV, but not movies. It stays in the archives forever and I cannot have that!
Well, here’s the much spoken about murder scene from Kasauti Zindagi Kay, if you want to go down memory lane.
Go win the world, Geetanjali. If you want to follow her, here’s her Twitter handle.