PeepingMoon Exclusive: Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah shouldn't take a break or end its run, nobody even wants it to- 'Rita Reporter' Priya Ahuja Rajda

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Priya Ahuja Rajda is among the most popular faces on Indian television. Famously known as Rita Reporter in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, she has been entertaining her audience for the longest time. Now, she is perfectly balancing two roles-one as Rita and the other as Ardaas Rajda's mother. 

In an exclusive interview with PeepingMoon, Priya spoke about playing Rita in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah and her love story with the show's director and husband Malav Rajda. She further said Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah doesn't need a break yet and how eagerly she is awaiting Disha Vakani's return to the show. Furthermore, Priya opened up about being a first-time mother to Ardaas and dealing with Tokophobia, a phobia of getting pregnant. 

Excerpts from the interview: 

You are famously known as Rita Reporter from Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. How did you land a role in the show? 

I got a call from the production house when I was doing a different show on the same channel. So, I assume Asit bhai (Asit Kumar Modi) saw my work through that show and called for an audition but for a different role. I was 22 when this happened and he thought I was too young to play a married woman with a child. Since he loved my audition, he promised to get back soon. After 15-20 days, I got a call from the production team for yet another audition and it was for Rita Reporter who wasn't a part of the show originally. Of course, nobody knew how successful this show is going to be. I feel lucky to be a part of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.  

You found your life partner in the show’s director, Malav Rajda. Can you give an insight into your love story?

I was working on two other shows along with Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. For almost 3 months, I was shuffling between these 3 shows and it took a toll on my health. I requested Asit bhai for a break. Four months into my break, I got a call from the team and they wanted me back on the show. In those 4 months, Malav joined Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah as the director. 

When I met him first, I thought he was an actor. Later, I assumed that he was someone who wanted to be an actor but ended up directing the show. Gradually, I learned he was very much serious about his job as the director. 

Initially, he thought I had an attitude and vice versa. On the set, I am a thorough professional and it takes time for me to break the ice. Malav told me that for him, it was love at first sight. Over a period of time, we became good friends. He told my mother that he likes me but is scared of confessing his feelings to me. There was no proposal. It’s been 10 years of marriage and 2 years of friendship.  

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah has been running successfully for 13 years now. Is it difficult for you to shed the image of Rita Reporter?

No, thankfully I have been working on different projects too. I don’t think I have an 'image'. But yes, I am blessed that people know me as Rita. 

There was a time when married women were not considered for lead roles. They were made to believe that they have no career after marriage or having children. Is the mindset of people changing now?

It has definitely changed. The mindset of people has been changed by actresses. It is not that women cannot have a career. People feel once an actress is married and has children, her priorities change. They don't understand that we can multitask.   

A certain section of the audience is of the opinion that Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah must come to an end now or should take a break. Do you also agree?

I don’t think so. As an audience, I feel there is no need for the show to take a break or end its run. When I step out and meet people, they say they watch Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah from morning to evening without getting bored. I honestly don’t understand this game of TRP. I guess because of OTT, people are watching the show on SonyLIV and probably it has affected the TRP. I have met so many people and nobody wants it to end or take a break. 

People are eagerly waiting for Disha Vakani’s return. Is there any progress happening on that front?

Only Disha Vakani can answer this, nobody is in the right position to answer this. Like everyone, I would love to see her back in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.

Your son Ardaas is surrounded by actors and people from the fraternity. What if he comes to you saying I want to act?

I won’t be surprised. Malav and I feel whatever he wants to be, he can and we will never question that. Even if he says he wants to play the guitar in a restaurant, we will be okay. Malav and I want our baby to be a good human being.  

Just before the lockdown, you became a mother. How was the experience of a first-time mom? 

Being a first-time mom is hectic. Hats off to those who manage work and two kids. It is tougher when it is working from home. You are managing work and looking after your child.

  

How do you manage work and look after your child?

Women are great at it. We are good at multitasking. We are lucky to have a nanny and house help but my mother never kept one. She took care of my father and me all by herself. Whenever my son needs me, even if I am tired, I will always be there for him. I am blessed to have Malav who is a great support and a fantastic dad. 

Some women go through clinical depression and anxiety after delivering their child. Did you experience the same?  

Yes, I did face clinical depression and anxiety but not because of the childbirth. It was due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Ardaas was 3 months old when COVID-19 broke out. Being a traveller, I felt caged at home. Without house help, it did make me a little crazy. 

How difficult was it for you to adapt to the lockdown and a new setting as your child was just 3 months old?

It was very very difficult. I was not someone who was fond of kids. I had a phobia called Tokophobia, which means a phobia of being pregnant. When I was pregnant with Ardaas, I got over that phobia. My pregnancy was smooth and beautiful. I had a gala time after Ardaas' birth. When he was 1 month old, I started travelling with him. 

Are you open to exploring work on the OTT?

Anytime. I always say I am an actor and give me any platform to perform, I will.

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