Both – her exit and entry – from the show were marked by uneasiness among the audience; silence of the co-stars and the producers, who did not know what to say.
“When I was asked to leave, I left. I did not want to hang on to something when my producer did not want me to. I have too much self-respect for that. Everywhere I went, I met vehement fans who kept insisting that Tulsi should be back or kept hoping that she would definitely come back.
“Before my return to Kyunkii… was announced, a fan told me, ‘ Agar kabhi mauka mile toh na mat boliyega !’ I had always maintained that I would come back with respect. There was a sense of betrayal, of being left out and I felt that if they call me back and give me the place that I had, then I would have no issues. I owed it to no one but the audience.”
So, who initiated the effort to break the ice? “The channel got in touch with me first. During the meeting, those sitting around me felt awkward, they were not comfortable with my comeback. But it gave me solace, since this was the first time that the decision of the producers and the advertisers had been overruled by the demand of the viewers. The audience wanted me back in the show and the producers had to give in,” she says with a smile.
Smriti also wants to clarify that she is not like other actors who feel that he or she is a star. “As an actor, I have never had the pressure to behave or dress in a particular manner. All those actors who say that they can’t go out and have pani-puri and all that jazz, they must not crib because this is the life they have chosen for themselves. Fame always comes with a price tag, but, fortunately, I have never been asked to pay the price because I don’t behave like a star. If I wanted to get out of the car and buy bhaji or eat panipuri, I did that. I have seen a lot of people who have taken fame and this world too seriously and have ended up losing their mental balance,” she says.
And what is her equation with Ekta like? “We don’t meet everyday. I met her last at the press conference when my comeback was announced. I guess the best part about our equation is that we don’t take each other for granted. I think I am the only actor who is not taken for granted in the Balaji camp.” And just to make a point very clear, Smriti will not be seen playing Kunti’s role in Ekta’s Mahaabhaarat. “Yes, I was offered the role, but I am not doing it. I was offered the role of Ganga and Kunti but I did not see myself in any of the roles,” she concludes.