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Verve People
July 07, 2016

Power Moment: Rajeshwari Sachdev

Text by Simone Louis. Photograph by Prateek Patel

For her plucky performance as the tragically heroic Mangla Devi in Balika Vadhu — Kachchi Umar Ke Pakke Rishte

Best known for her role in Shyam Benegal’s Sardari Begum, for which she won the 1997 National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, Rajeshwari Sachdev has established herself as an actor who can sing as splendidly as she can emote. More recently, she created a buzz both as the spirited widow Mangla Devi on the television series Balika Vadhu – Kachchi Umar Ke Pakke Rishte and as Gauhar in Lillete Dubey’s path-breaking play of the same name. With rampant passion, she relays the story of Gauhar Jaan, one of India’s premier superstars — and one of the first voices to be recorded in India — during the British rule.

True power: “I think power is the energy that each of us holds inside us and further emits to the world. It also can be harnessed through the feeling that you matter…even if you matter to just one person, it’s a very compelling sensation.”

Film or TV: “Film, any day. You have a script, a story to tell…and, at some point, you know there’s a finishing line. I really applaud all the actors who work in television day in and day out for years together and still manage to keep that passion alive. It’s unbelievably draining, which is why I’d rather do a little bit, and truly enjoy what I’m doing.”

Back to the stage: “In the past year, I began yearning to return to theatre. And as fate would have it, I got a call from Lillete (Dubey). Don’t ask me how, but these things happen to me! When I found out about Gauhar and the fact that she was the first recording artist with the Gramophone Company of India more than a 100 years ago, I knew I had to do the play. My son was such a gem; he didn’t see me for literally a month and a half because I was shooting four days for Balika… and rehearsing for the play during the other three days of the week. It was maddening, especially since I’ve never had classical vocal training…but it’s been so fruitful. I loved the challenge.”

Read about our next power woman, Archie Panjabi.

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