‘I have not changed myself for anyone. A woman should have attitude’ – Anju Mahendroo

There are some people who live life on their own terms and refuse to bow down to norms. Film and television actress Anju Mahendroo is one of them. The actress who has been part of the glamour industry for 50 years has grabbed headlines whether it’s because of her work, love life, lifestyle or attitude. The actress who was part of popular serials like Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Koi Apna Sa, Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, Geet Hui Sabse Parayi and many more; and films like Page 3, The Dirty Picture and several others is now back on the small screen in Star Plus’ Rishton Ka Chakravyuh

Q) You have always held your own. What advice would you give to women who want to live life on their own terms?

I firmly believe a woman should have attitude, otherwise she is taken lightly. If we approach anyone for work, the person is bound to show attitude, but on the other hand if we show attitude and say ‘shall consider the offer’, the person will want to work with us. Like when Madhur Bhandarkar approached me for Page 3 I told him I did not have dates, he said he would shoot when I had the time. I am not boasting, but I never approached anyone for work and not changed myself for anything. And yet there was no lack of work

Q) You are acting in a serial after a long gap!

Yes, I had taken a break for a while, firstly because I was not getting the kind of work I wanted and secondly my mother passed away. I said yes to Rishton Ka Chakravyuh because I liked the role and the shooting was in Mumbai, and then how long could I sit without work?

Q) What is your role like in the serial?

I play the Maharani of Lal Mahal. It’s a pivotal role and I am in all the episodes. I have a son who is a spoilt rich kid and I try to cover up for his misdemeanors, but my husband, the Maharaja wants him to change and become responsible. I have a very positive role and an integral part of the story.

Q) On the personal level you have a very intriguing lifestyle. Can you tell us about it?

I have a very positive approach to life! If people say I look the same as I did many years ago, it’s because of the way I lead my life. I have other interests besides acting, do gardening and am passionate about animals and feed almost 300 stray dogs a day! I have many friends who drop in when they want and we party, chat and fool around. I don’t believe one should become serious with age and continue enjoying life. I have also seen many downs in life but I take things in my stride and look ahead and not crib about the past. I believe in hard work and don’t feel jealous of other people’s success.

Q) Are you satisfied with your career?

I am very satisfied with my career because I do the kind of work I want to. I always had work in the 50 years I have been in the industry and made myself financially secure. At times, I have worked in three serials at a time. Today if I take up a serial, the work should be of my choice and if along the way I feel I am just a showpiece in them I leave it! I prefer television to films because the set becomes like home and the team becomes a close knit family. Like Narayani Shastri and I have become good friends after working together in Rishton Ka Chakravyuh. I also enjoyed working in Swabhimaan (1995).

Q) Do you enjoy being single?

My marriage did not work because I did not get what I was looking for and not because we were bad people. Instead of mulling over the past I moved forward. One should not get married because of society but only if you meet the person with whom you are compatible!

Interviewed By: Arti Saxena