By Akanksha (Guest Contributor)
Anuj Kapadia, aka Shayar Kapadia, the current national crush from the successful TV show Anupamaa, has been the talk of the town for a few months now. What is so special about this name, you ask? AK was introduced to the viewers in episode #357 of Anupamaa. With the airing of episode #456, he completes a century since his appearance. And Man( or #MaAn, pun intended), what a successful inning it has been!
From his very first glimpse, even before the viewers saw his face, he made his place in their hearts, courtesy of the fairy tale entry. Fans around the world gasped at how that moment translated on screen. A fit, athletic, rich man in his precious suit, kneeling before a saree clad woman he doesn’t even know yet, helping her with her ‘saadhe teen sau rupaye ki sandal‘? When he got up, one look into those eyes, and he swept us all off our feet.
For the uninitiated, Anuj had fallen head over heels in love with Anu during their brief time together in college and has been in love with her ever since. Twenty-six years? How is it even possible to love for that long, more so in a one-sided equation? Even after you have been drifted apart by fate for so long? The answer lies with him and only him. And he doesn’t seem to even think of it as a valid question, for him to answer. To him, loving Anu comes as naturally as breathing.
So about Anuj, what exactly is it that makes him everyone’s favourite? Is it his suave, killer looks? The fact that he is just the right mix of confident and humble? Him being a self-made man who does all his chores by himself? Or is it his ability to love, beyond the boundaries of time and space? Maybe simply just all of it?
He is a looker, sure. He writes poetry, and extra points to the actor (three cheers for you, Gaurav Khanna!) to have aced bringing these shayaris to life in the most beautiful manner. He has an unreal charm to him. Watching him do his signature ‘bol doon?‘, you can’t help but smile and root for this goofy idiot. At times when he is looking at the love of his life he has this insane gaze, passionate enough to make one go weak in the knees, yet so gentle, almost resembling affection. The intensity of his stare burns through the screens into the viewer’s heart, but have never for even once felt like objectification.
Anuj Kapadia is a feminist in the truest sense of the word, one who’d rather do things than talk. He is always standing up for everyone in need, empowering as many around him as possible. A thorough gentleman, but also the fiercest protector when it comes to the safety of those whom he loves. To look back and remember, when he proclaimed, standing tall among the Shah family, how his love for Anu doesn’t need reciprocation and hence “Main Anupama ke mathe pe tilak lagakar use devi bana sakta hoon, uski maang mein sindoor bharkar use apni biwi nahin!”, I legit shed tears and clapped. I know many of us did.
His honesty has its own separate corner in my heart. The man doesn’t hold back or mince his words when there is a need to speak up. And even while doing that, he makes sure to not be disrespectful. In a time and era when multiple versions of toxic masculinity are being created, recreated and celebrated, it’s heartwarming to find a man who holds importance in giving space and being silent support. It was so heartening to see him move to the side rails while Anu was living her first journey on an aeroplane and her first visit to the beach. This man for a change doesn’t accept credit for any small or big thing he does, even when we can see how he is being the wind beneath her wings.
For me personally, his deadliest quality is his unconditional ability to respect. He respects not only his elders and his loved ones but also his subordinates, his young, even his rivals. Even when he is at the top of the food chain, for him the consent of others is a must. Let me put a quick example here. In a tear-jerker of a scene, he finds Anu, the woman he loves like crazy, in a moment of a complete breakdown. She is crying, almost hysterical, slumped on the ground in a dark corner. Enraged and teary-eyed himself, he extends a hand to pacify her but stops midway because he knows she might not be comfortable even with that well-intended touch. Instead, he chooses to talk her out of it. That awe-inspiring monologue of his has gone down as one of the best in all-time TV history, for me. By the end of this sequence when he finally leaves, in a beautifully curated frame showing parallels, we see him falling down to his knees, while she gathers herself and gets back onto her feet. What an impactful way to depict the transfer of strength that flows from him to her, even if seeing her that way makes him weak.
This selflessness is the core of his beautiful character. That infectious smile of his hides a lot of heartaches most of the time, yet he keeps finding ways to her happiness. Each day since we have seen him, he has made sure every single person around him is in a happy, safe and respected place. Even when he is hurting on the inside, he’d never let it show lest it would affect Anupama. He’d still be her pillar of support to fall back on. Such is the extent of his untold love.
The moment I decided to fall forever in love with this man was when he got confronted by Anu about his feelings. In this scene, he is not able to look her in the eye because he thinks he has hurt her but she tells him that he shouldn’t be lowering his gaze if he doesn’t think loving her was a mistake. The way he looks back up nods a little and proceeds to profess his love of two decades in a single breath- this gave me goosebumps. Such honesty mixed with a pure fiery passion is a first as far as TV’s depiction of love goes. His love for Anu is a complete story in itself. His feelings have spent almost eighty+ episodes of being one-sided, but it never feels cringe for even a minute. It could have been cheesy, but it feels like the most organic sensation one could ever experience. This love has many times been compared in the show with Meera’s devotion to Krishna, and very rightly so.
Anuj Kapadia is so special that he has forced the conventional audience who do not believe in divorces and a second chance at love, to root for him. Quietly, without any big claims, he has been attempting to change the thought process that refuses to give women agency. The grandmothers and mothers of Indian households want Anu to move on with Anuj. A great feat to achieve indeed for a character, to be loved and liked so much where things could have backfired easily.
Kudos to the whole team here for handling something as tricky as unrequited love with so much care and caution, and giving us this beautiful man as a result. He has lost just so much in his life, yet continues to have unshakeable faith. He cherishes what he has, in place of mourning what he could have had. He is grateful to simply be able to see and hear the woman he loves, tries his best to make her life better without being intrusive, and is happy being just friends. A special shout out for keeping it all well within boundaries. In the wrong hands, his one-sided love and attention could have downgraded to sensationalism and stalking. Props again to the writing team and Gaurav for this brilliant character sketch and portrayal.
Now that the story is moving towards a fully bloomed romance from both sides, going back and reminiscing the stages of their relationship feels so magical. He started from being a stranger, went on to be an acquaintance after the party, to gradually become a sort of friend. To later become a business partner, then a good friend, then one of her only two best friends. And finally, now that she has started developing feelings for him, he has crossed that dreaded friend zone in less than 100 episodes of him being here. The fun part is, this transition in itself from one stage to another is so seamless and so subtle, we never knew when he moved on to the next while we were watching. Both in her heart and ours, he sneaked in without notice and has now made it his permanent residence.
While we are at it, let us hope today that this beautiful human is able to inspire at least a small fraction of young men watching, to try and be even 1/10th of a man that he is. Let us celebrate today the fact that someone like him exists, albeit in the world of fiction only. He still makes the world a little bit more beautiful, let’s hope he continues to do so. So ladies and gentlemen, let’s raise a toast today, for the man himself, for our one and only, for this milestone of his, and for many more that are yet to come.