Not a Package Deal! | Verve Magazine
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Verve People
September 12, 2005

Not a Package Deal!

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena. Photographs by Akash Mehta. Gauri Pradhan’s outfits and accessories at Aftershock; shoes at Metro. Hiten Tejwani’s outfits by Narendra Kumar Ahmed, at The Courtyard. All in Mumbai. Location courtesy: Taj Lands End, Bandra

He’s exuberant and enthusiastic. She’s reserved and reticent. Together, they make sweet music. No wonder then that their alter egos – Karan and Nandini Virani of the daily prime time soap, Kyunki…Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi – were voted the most popular tele-couple at the Star Parivaar Awards this year. Ververeal life husband-wife, Hiten Tejwani and Gauri Pradhan, who celebrate their togetherness, even as they cherish the spaces in their relationship.

As the young couple steps gingerly out of the car onto the rain-washed marble steps and walks through the swivel glass doors into the well-appointed lobby of a suburban five-star hotel, Sunday morning breakfasters stop, turn…and stare. Their faces are oh so déjà vu to diehard soap watchers who’ve seen them almost every day on their small screens in their drawing rooms. The much loved Karan and Nandini Virani of Balaji’s tearful Kyunki…Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi fame…formerly made famous as Pratham and Gauri, part of Kkutumb’s (a Balaji production) star-crossed melodrama… actors, Hiten Tejwani and Gauri Pradhan – married for just over a year and a half – complement each other in many ways.

In a classic case of opposites attract, the two were slowly drawn to each other…. “One day, while Hiten was with a different unit, we heard that he was unwell. He had to shoot with us later during the day, so I offered him my car and driver to reach our sets. Stubborn as he is, he refused, insisting he’d make it on his own steam,” says Gauri. Soon, Hiten found himself sharing the Ice Princess’ lunch…and inviting her out for dinner. Thus, it happened that a secret romance developed between the two, differences in their background notwithstanding.

Destiny – personally and professionally – beckoned our lead players. Hitting it off immensely on screen, the pair became extremely popular with the producers and the audiences. So much so, that people began to quiz Hiten if they were seeing each other. “No one dared ask me if I was going steady with him” remembers Gauri. After umpteen assertions that they were only ‘good friends’ their real life romance blossomed, sometimes over candlelit dinners at quiet restaurants.

Initial days yet, they are both learning new things about each other. Who makes the most ‘sacrifices’ I quiz and automatically Gauri’s eyes turn promptly to her husband. “She has given you her answer without saying a word,” Hiten jokes. In a more serious vein, his wife indicates the first changes that have happened. “He used to shoot around the clock and come home around one at night, almost every day. Now, it is normally pack up much earlier. I know that acting – particularly in dailies – is not a ten to six job. But somewhere, somehow, I honestly feel that you have to set your priorities right.”

The couple seems to spend almost every moment together and are frequently spotted enjoying a quiet meal in suburban nightspots. How boring the monotony must be! Both Hiten and Gauri laugh out loud: “We are often asked how we live in each other’s pockets all the time. But, if you look at a typical day, we hardly get any quality time together. ” The flip side of working together is that you share the same workspace and may tend to let your personae flow in from home to ‘office’ and vice versa. “If you have had an argument at home, it is easy to continue it on the sets,” says Gauri. “We have laid down one important ground rule though: we sort out our issues in private. If that does not work, I do have my own make-up room which gives us a degree of privacy….”

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