With Buniyaad making a grand comeback to national television, interest in the cast of the project has been revived all over again.
Unlike Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan where many of the actors and technicians are no more, most of the Buniyaad cast is still with us.
Except for the show’s leading lady Anita Kanwar who has disappeared from the face of showbiz.
Anita was a rage as the rustic matriarch Lajwanti, aka Lajjoji in Buniyaad. But after playing the role for a full year Kanwar was just worn out being the sugar-sweet Mom to actors her own age.
I remember meeting her for an extensive interview at Film City in 1986 where she was shooting for, what else, Buniyaad.
She sounded angry when I complimented her. “Thank you for appreciating my work. But it’s become a very big burden to carry around. Wherever I go I am addressed as Lajjoji. People have forgotten my real name! They have also forgotten I am not the 70-year old woman that I play in Buniyaad. I am a fun-loving girl. I like to do the normal things that girls my age like to do.”
Just to break the matriarchal image she played the role of Rajesh Khanna’s vampish daughter-in-law Mohan Kumar’s Amrit while Buniyaad was being telecast.
It was a minor role with no shades. But Anita just enjoyed being bad.
“Can you imagine what Lajjo would have thought of this horrible woman who throws her father-in-law out of his house?” she had chuckled. I agreed it was a stroke of defiance. But disappointing to her fans.
Rather than accept matriarchal roles Anita quit acting and disappeared in Gurgaon near Delhi. She made a comeback five years later in serial Saboot where she played a detective, She told me she accepted the role only because it took her as far away from Buniyaad as possible. Saboot flopped. I never heard from Anita Kanwar again
Where is she? Does she watch Buniyaad along with the rest of the godforsaken locked-down humanity? And if she does, does she think more kindly of her incurably sweet character than she did when Lajjoji was every Indian male’s idea of a perfect mom?