It’s ek muthi aasman — a handful of sky — that he is aiming for right now. It’s been more than three years since actor Ashish Chaudhary took a forced sabbatical from the film and television industry. The loss of his sister and brother-in-law in the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008, followed by a major setback to his father’s business, left Chaudhary with no choice but to get his family back on track.
“It meant giving up one thing I loved — acting. I was doing films, but comedies and that too multi-starrers. One or two films in a year guaranteed no money and I was in a financial and emotional crunch,” says Chaudhary, who after working in films such as EMI, Double Dhamaal and Daddy Cool, is readying for his comeback with Zee TV’s new show, Ek Muthi Aasman. The show will also see the return of actor Shilpa Shirodkar. Chaudhary was in Chandigarh on Monday to talk about the same.
Based on the life of a domestic help, popularly referred to as bai in Mumbai, the show aims to capture the hopes and aspirations of a domestic worker alongside the trials and tribulations of her daily life. “It’s a story of Kamala bai played by Shilpa Shirodkar who works as a housemaid in the affluent Kapoor household,” says Chowdhry, who plays a suave, shrewd, sharp-talking advertising agency head, Vikramaditya Scindia. He is also mentor to Kamala’s daughter, Kalpana, and Kapoors’ daughter, Poochi. “An interesting work dynamic will develop in the office between the trio, wherein I will encourage Kalpana to stop seeing herself as subservient to Poochi just because her mother serves as a housemaid in Poochi’s house,” says Chowdhry, adding that there is no dignity of labour in India.
“There are over 10,00,000 domestic workers in Mumbai alone whose day starts at the crack of dawn. The bai remains the most taken-for-granted service provider of the household,” adds the actor, who starts shooting next week.
As to why he chose to return to television and not films, Chowdhry says, “When I came into this industry, I had no backing, no mentor, and I started with small commercials, ramp shows and a television show titled Hum Pardesi Ho Gaye. In 2000, I was one of the highest-paid actors on television and that’s when I got my first film, Qayamat. But somehow I got typecast in comic roles and films were far