She is one of the lucky ones who has managed to remain visible despite all her years in showbiz, but versatile actress Aruna Irani laments the lack of good roles for middle-aged women in Bollywood.
"Yes, I started with Bollywood, but I have been doing TV shows for the past 12 years. I am happy with the kind of roles I am getting here. Check out the big screen and you will find there is no role for female characters, especially of my age group," said the 59-year-old actress who was at her peak in the 1970s and 1980s.
"Actresses like Hemaji (Hema Malini), Rakhiji and Moushmiji (Moushmi Chatterjee), they all are just at home. And if sometimes they get the chance to be part of a film, then that is for three or four scenes," she added.
"In the past, movies were all about big families and uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters were seen playing important characters. We all used to fit into some role or the other. But now things have changed and so has the concept. We are getting better roles in TV and we are more happy here," Aruna said.
After playing prominent roles in 'Caravan', 'Bobby', 'Upkar', 'Patthar Ke Sanam', 'Farz', 'Angoor' and 'Shalimaar', in the 1990s she moved to character roles with 'Beta' and 'Dil To Paagal Hain'. Aruna was last seen in a movie in the Akshay Kumar-starrer 'Khatta Meetha'.
If her journey on the small screen widened her reach, it also allowed her to try her hand in production with shows like 'Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand', 'Zameen Se Aaman Tak', 'Mehndi Tere Naam Ki' and 'Tum Bin Jaooun Kahan'.
However, she took a sabbatical from production and says, "Production requires a lot of time and efforts and it was affecting me. As an actor, we don't have too much pressure. We finish our makeup, read our lines and we are ready for the shoot. As an actor you have a comfortable life, but producing a show is a different ball game altogether," she said.
But the hard work notwithstanding, the actress is gearing up to launch another production venture on Zee television.
"I am thinking of producing shows. I am about to start a show on Zee television in December. After that Kuku ji (Kuku Kohli - her husband) will take over the production and I will handle other things," she added.
The actress is soon going to be seen as Rajmata Mrinalini Devi in Sony Television's 'Dekha Ek Khwaab'.
Directed by Anil V. Kumar, the show will go on air November 21. It will start once 'Kaun Banega Crorepati 5' (KBC) goes off air and Aruna says that there is a big responsibility to match up with the TRPs and craze for Amitabh Bachchan.
"When KBC was running on STAR and when it went off air, my show 'Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand' replaced it and the title started with the letter 'D'. 'Desh Mein...' went on to become a huge hit. This time also, KBC is wrapping up and our show 'Dekha Ek Khwaab', which again starts with 'D', is replacing it. I am hopeful the show will match up with the KBC success," she explained.
Talking about her character, she said: "The role has different shades and this is the best part about the character. Mrinalini Devi is emotional and caring, but she is also very shrewd. I really enjoyed doing the role," she said.
Apart from 'Dekha...', the actress will also be seen in the comedy show titled 'Main Lakshmi Tere Angan Ki' on STAR Desh.