Famous for playing Anupamaa in the daily soap of the same name, Rupali Ganguly is Indian television’s highest-paid actress today. Here’s her inspiring and amazing struggle story.
Rupali Ganguly’s comeback to television evokes feelings of nostalgia and pride among elder millennials and generation X. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that she was winning our hearts as Monisha in Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai, with her “middle-class” antics and amusing banter with mother-in-law Maya.
She returned to TV screens in 2020 with Anupamaa, which airs on StarPlus and Disney + Hotstar after a seven-year hiatus.
The program has been dominating the TRP ratings, and Rupali is currently riding her well-deserved high.
However, a recent interview showed that the actor, who is one of the most well-known personalities in Indian television today, did not always have it easy.
Rupali Ganguly is the daughter of National Award-winning filmmaker Anil Ganguly, who directed films such as Kora Kagaz (1974), Tapasya (1975), and Aanchal (1976). (1980).
Two flops and a four-year-long film starring Dharmendra caused a difficult period for the family, she claimed.
“Papa was my greatest hero. I was enthralled watching him direct each frame methodically,” she said.
“Once, an actress dropped out of Papa’s film, and he cast me in it when I was 12 years old.” But Papa soon had two flops. Our difficult period began, and my dream took a back place.
I did it all: I worked at a store, catered, and waited tables.
I used to work as a server at a party where Papa was a guest. I also worked in advertising, which is how I met my husband Ashwin, who suggested her to TV.
Rupali said that they were “actually on the streets” at one time since they had to sell their property.
“Back then, people would sell their homes to create movies.
This occurred to us as well,” she told Pinkvilla, adding that the four-year-long film caused major issues for their family.
“Regardless, we grew up in a fairly grounded middle-class family. I believe it’s because my father has been through a lot.
He had fled Calcutta [Kolkata] and arrived in Bombay…he had stayed on the pavement… He used to be a member of the choir… “In those days, I could live on Rs 15-20 per month,” she explained.
On certain days, money was so tight that she couldn’t afford public transportation. When asked about her first audition, she said that she walked from Worli to Andheri since she couldn’t afford bus tickets.
Rupali says, “Then I heard someone mention that the plot had a dual purpose. I became quite excited.I returned to Rajan Shahi and asked him to give me another opportunity. He was hesitant, but I persisted. I auditioned the next day after he phoned. He handed me the first scenario and then told me to complete six sequences in a row. Everything else is history. From there, I began my quest.”
After a few years, she received critical praise for her parts in Sanjivani (2002) and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai. “None of us realized it’d be a smash, we were simply having fun!. On that show, we became a family,” she said.
Rupali declared her retirement from acting a few years later, at the height of her career. During this time, she married and had a child. “I didn’t feel bad about it,” she remarked.
After being told, ‘You’ll never be a mother,’ seeing her kid take his first steps was a godsend for Rupali.The following six years were devoted entirely to family.
“My kid was a miracle,” she said of her difficulties conceiving owing to thyroid issues. People would body shame me after I had my baby. They’d say you’ve become so big. I was already feeling guilty about not being able to feed my child. People contributed to this. Nobody has the authority to tell you that you are obese or that you are an aunty.”
Anupamaa came to her a couple years after her father died in 2016 following a brief illness. She remembers asking producer Rajan Shahi to allow her some time to reduce weight at the time.
“I told him, ‘At my age, you’re turning me into the heroine… I need some time to get in shape.’
He said, ‘Rupali, I don’t want a heroine; I want a mother. The play is about a mother, and she is who she is.”
Rupali also mentioned that it took difficult for her to accept herself on TV after staying at home for seven years. “I was concerned about how I would seem on film…accepting myself on screen, thinking about what others would say about my weight… I was filled with self-doubt. But Anupamaa got so much love, it gave me hope.” Even before she began working on the show, she was subjected to age and fat shaming.
“People would claim I had wrinkles and was overweight. Yes, I have wrinkles, which I have earned and am proud of. I absolutely accept myself.”
She feels as like she is carrying on her father’s legacy with Anupamaa. Rupali’s father created women-centered films such as Tapasya, and Kora Kaagaz. His female characters would be extremely powerful.
Rupali says, “It’s like though I’m reliving my father’s legacy.”
She also thanks her husband, Ashwin Verma, for supporting her and allowing his work to take a second seat. She hopes that more women will have family support to succeed in life, and that more men would be like her husband.
“Self-worth, self-love, and self-validation,” she urges women to remember. “Shame your detractors,” she urged.