Diary of a Weekend Puneite: The Pune Queen aka Sumitra aka Sampada Vaze

I never hesitated to walk up to someone who has what it takes to be in front of the camera. From college classmates to a complete stranger in a café (read that as Vaishali on FC Road). The thrill of launching a new face on the magazine cover I contributed to was none to match. Even today, watching someone from my city scale new heights makes me smile with pride, as Pune continues to export its talent. Here is a slice of my chat with city lass who is ruling the small screen.

The 60-second advert was her story. Till Sampada Vaze took a seven-year break before she returned back to the small screen. But what makes this Puneiete stand out was her choice of role: playing the little known Sumitra in Ramayana and yet converting this queen into a winning hand. Juggling between Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad for Siya Ke Ram being aired on Star TV, she talks about her shoot life, fittingly just before Dassera and as the end of this 286 plus episode saga draws closer!

What made you choose Siya Ke Ram as your comeback role?
Mythology was a no-go in my books. How do you play a character with no reference at all? The only reason I took on this role was because of the production house who had pulled off a contemporary mythology like Har Har Mahadev.

Has the choice paid off?
Yes! Such little is known about Lord Ram’s family that we’ve found unexpected affection and affinity. What’s fascinating is when teenagers message you on social media handles and keep asking you to bring back Sita from Vanwas. I am recognised on flights which make me realise the power of Ramayana – despite it not being a new tale and the power of being beamed onto people’s homes everyday.

The other moment that I knew I had chosen wisely was when Star TV ran a poll on their social media handles and I won being as their favourite amongst all others who are well-known faces by an overwhelming 80 per cent margin.

Was it a tough call?
Television is way more demanding than films. Also a mythology! For example: You have dialogues in Hindi which you don’t speak. Today’s Hindi language has a lot of Urdu words in it. Also the jewellery and the costumes worn for hours can break you out in a rash. Also when you are shooting combination scenes, even if you are sick – you put your brave shoot face and go onto the sets. We ended up reshooting scenes where a hairpin was showing – because hair pins didn’t exist. Our contracts have clauses that we cannot be shot in our costumes eating non vegetarian food!

Siya ke Ram wraps up soon. What next?
Our roles were to be wrapped up four months into the saga. But there was such little known about Sumitra, Kaikeyi and Kaushalya – that our parts still find a way into the story courtesy the popularity. So to be on the show even now has been a plus!
The next will be to look at upping my career in the television space by moving into production and hopefully the MBA degree and the corporate experience before modeling and television will back this curve up.

How does Pune help?
It’s home. The minute I enter Pune, I can feel all the stress melting away with my family and friends around me. Also, unlike a lot of my peers or others who started their careers in Pune – I started mine in Mumbai when I was scouted in an elevator by the Lintas team. Pune showers me with love. I’ve come back to autographs, store openings, brand launches and being surrounded by strangers, teens, classmates who walk up to congratulate me.
Pune is home. Mumbai is work and I find a happy balance in both!

Reality Bites
And while Sampada Vaze may have said no to reality television, Dipty Sohoni –stylist and designer from Pune – who’s moved to Dubai for work found herself on MasterChef India that started off this week. Given her mom is an accomplished chocolatier, it’s not a surprise that Dipty ranked amongst the Top 16 selected from 135 contestants from all over the UAE. She dished out a ghee grilled salmon with an alphonso mango puree tempered with cumin and served with a kale, sweet pink radish and candied walnut salad. “But I stood  second in Round 2. They only allow one participant from each country barring India. And sadly, I didn’t get to meet Vikas Khanna… Though I got the MasterChef Apron!”  Now  just isn’t that worth celebrating!

Fuelling Plastic
If your neighbouring raddiwalla won’t take plastic scraps, then here’s good news. Store all milk bags, oil bags, food bags, plastic containers, carry bags, all types of wrappers, PET bottles, plastic buckets, chairs, bubble wraps, cassette covers, curtain, sofa covers  and contact Dr Tadapatrikar at 020 25448900/9373053235 or email them at keshavsitatrust@gmail.com.  This will get collected free of charge every fortnight and will be converted to polyfuel (equivalent of kerosene) and give it to villagers as fuel to prevent tree cutting! Start today

PFW – Get the timing right!
Forty-five minutes and waiting for the show to begin on Day One! Pune Fashion Week in Season 6 still needs to set its bar higher to match up to its big city versions in Mumbai and Delhi!

Nidhi Taparia

Nidhi Taparia

Nidhi Taparia wears many hats -- digital expert, entrepreneur, writer and coffee junkie -- with ease. A weekend Puneite, Nidhi left the city 16 years ago to fall in love with Mumbai – but Pune still is her first crush. The views expressed here are personal. Diary of a Weekend Puneite appears every Saturday.
Nidhi Taparia