The 2009 show, Pavitra Rishta, bankrolled by TV czarina Ekta Kapoor, turned Ankita Lohande (who played Archana) and the late Sushant Singh Rajput (who essayed Manav) into overnight national sensations. Audiences couldn’t seem to get enough from the romance between Archana and Manav. It was one of the longest-running shows on Indian television — five years and 1424 episodes.
And as it happens with almost all popular TV shows, clamour for the makers to bring Archana and Manav back reverberated when Pavitra Rishta went off-air. While Sushant had moved on to pursue his Bollywood dream mid-way through the show, Ankita held on to it till the very end. So, when the makers announced the second season, it was a bittersweet moment for many Pavitra Rishta loyalists — happy to see Ankita back as Archana, sad because Sushant is no longer between us.
Popular TV actor Shaheer Sheikh now plays Manav in the new season. It has started streaming on the OTT platform Zee5. Titled Pavitra Rishta — It’s never too late; the show is already giving nostalgic trips to several fans.
And Ankita is excited to return to the show that made her a household name. Sharing her elation about the new season and teaming up with Shaheer, Ankita says, “Shaheer is the quiet type, while I am very talkative. During breaks, I never sit in the vanity van. I am all over the set meeting and engaging in conversations with people. Shaheer is polite, and it took us a day to click. But no sooner we connected, we were able to get into the skin of Archana and Manav’s character; the chemistry we created helped us deliver the best.”
When the second season was announced, social media was abuzz, with many claiming it would be difficult to see another actor play Manav. Sharing her take, Ankita says, “I always read the positive comments. Social media is tricky terrain, and everything can’t be rosy and good. There are bound to be mixed reactions. Every individual is different and so are their reactions. I am grateful to those who love my show.”
Indore-born Ankita moved to Mumbai in 2005 to pursue her dream of acting. To prove her skills, she had even participated in the talent hunt reality show — Idea Zee Cinestars. However, her big break would happen four years later with Pavitra Rishta.
In 2019, Ankita made her Bollywood debut with the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Manikarnika and followed it up with the action film, Baaghi 3. Her hard work and perseverance have helped her survive in showbiz and Mumbai. Looking back at her journey so far, Ankita says, “I am content; I don’t run after things. I follow my heart. My journey has been short and crisp. Pavitra Rishta was a turning point for me. The most important thing for me is love — and I would say my journey has been full of love. I have made innumerable bonds. I owe my journey to Pavitra Rishta, which presented me with an opportunity to make my own home here in Mumbai. What more can I expect! My family has always been my strength, and they stood like a rock with me.” Adding further Ankita says, “Mumba Devi (the goddess) has given me lots of love, and Mumbai has embraced me.”
Ankita had her fair share of struggles to survive in the city. This is why she believes in being there for those new to Mumbai. “I try to give comfort to the newcomers who come to the city, especially those who work with me. If anyone needs help, I’m just a phone call away. I would also like aspiring actors to understand that things will not always go according to plans, and there will be times when you might go off-track. I wish to share some strength with those who lose their way. I have strong ethical values instilled in me, and I never compromise on those. I don’t bow down for wrong things; no one should. My mom is my best friend. I share everything with her, which has helped me grow in my career,” Ankita concludes.