“I love playing women who have innate strength!” – Ashwini Kalsekar
Ashwini Kalsekar, who we all remember for her formidable screen presence, has a penchant for playing roles of strong women all through her career! Especially remembered as the scheming aunt Jigyasa in Zee TV’s ‘Kasamh Se’ and the resilent Hirabai in Zee TV’s ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’, Ashwini is all set to step into the shoes of yet another strong woman in Indian history – Mahamanga in ‘Jodha Akbar’!
Producer Ekta Kapoor who is known for handpicking actors to play characters in her shows, has chosen Ashwini to play the role of Mahamanga – the woman who was second only to Akbar’s mother! History says that Mahamanga was a pivotal figure in emperor Akbar’s life. She is famed to have saved Akbar from the jaws of death in several battles and Akbar was forever indebted to her for his life. A very sharp, astute, selfish and ambitious woman, Mahamanga was an ace politician and the de facto ruler of the kingdom during emperor Akbar’s absences!
Ashwini looks forward to playing this key role and says “Broadly speaking, Mahamanga is as conniving as Jigyasa was! However, Mahamanga has a justification to everything she does. I am still reading up on her but she was the one who guided Akbar. It was almost like she was his mother, counsellor and minister all rolled into one. She, of course, had her own vested interests and wanted to see her son Adham Khan amongst the top echelons of the empire and she planned and plotted in that direction.”
Ask her how difficult it has been to get into the character of a powerful woman in the Mughal era and she says, “One needs to be extremely meticulous in one’s research while essaying a historical role as the aspect of authenticity should never be compromised. Urdu is a difficult but sweet language and if it isn't pronounced right, it will sound harsh, so I am honing my command over Urdu so that I get my diction absolutely right!"
When talking about what appealed to her about the character, Ashwini says, “The fact that Mahamanga once slapped her own son Adham Khan when he said something against Akbar, really shook me. It showed how much she loved Akbar, whom she had raised like her own son. That one moment moved me. Also, Mahamanga is a strong woman and I love playing women who have innate strength,” she smiles.
(Watch Ashwini as Mahamanga in ‘Jodha Akbar’, coming soon only on Zee TV.)