Amita Salatry is a well-known name in Goa. She started her career as a Radio Artist at the age of 10 when the only entertainment was watching the DD1 and DD2 on TV. There was no cable TV and the internet was non-existent. Reading newspapers, listening to the radio, and watching TV was the only way of keeping yourself updated with what was happening around the world. It was then she started her column “Ruchik” in a local newspaper, which later on transformed into a television show on DD1. Amita Salatry has come a long way to become the first celebrity culinary specialist in Goa.
According to Amita, she loved to perform right from her childhood: she loved acting and performing and that led her to be a part of radio and later on television. “During those days the first preference was given to radio artists to be on TV and my journey started in a similar way,” said Amita adding that the first program she did on TV was as a compere for a show based on the late Bhausaheb Bandekar’s death anniversary. “I still remember that everybody praised me for my work. I never had any stage fright from the very outset, probably because I started at such an early age, and also because I had my interests in that field.”
The Cooking Show
The journey that started with compering a show on TV continued with many show offers coming her way. But no journey to success is smooth and you need to walk rough roads to reach your destination. “Although Door Darshan was making many native shows, it was not enough to generate the revenue needed and finally one day a team from Mumbai arrived in Goa and took the decision to shut down the Goa station. It was a big setback for me,” said Amita. During those days Amita started writing a weekly column for the Gomantak. “It was called “Ruchik,” a weekly section dedicated to recipes and people would wait for a new recipe every Friday. This made me realize how popular my show has become and I suggested to the television producers to start a cooking show,” said Amita, adding that this was way before the famous Sanjiv Kapoor started his show on television. “Goa, being a very small state, there was no source of revenue generation for DD at that time but I managed to convince the DD team that revenue will come in the form of advertising once the show goes live and becomes popular, revenue will come in and exactly that happened. The “Ruchik” show became a hit.”
Amita became popular amongst the Goan audience for her cooking skills and recipes and one day The Konkani Academy requested her to come up with a recipe book on “Authentic Goan Recipes” that was later entitled “Goenchey Shivraak” (Goan Vegetarian Cuisine) “That was my 1st book published which was later on transformed into the 13 episodes of a DD Show, that generated a revenue of Rs 65,000 which was a huge amount at that time for Doordarshan,” said Amita adding, she shot these 13 episodes in 3 days. “The format for the show was to have a guest on the show while we cooked the dish. I would speak to the guest and then the idea was to present the cooked item/dish to the guest where they would cut to me cooking.”
The popularity of the show compelled the TV producers to make 65 episodes (13 Episodes each series) “I used to interview the guests on the show while cooking. We would shoot the episodes back-to-back and would do the outdoor shoot for the advertisements. Ruchchik TV show was really well received by the people and they all loved it after this I got an offer to start with the next season of the show and this went on till I completed around 65 episodes of the Ruchchik show. I would go so far as to say that that it was the Ruchchik show that saved DD in Goa at the time,” said Amita.
The Journey Into Acting
Amita is a born talent and her improved skills in acting and performing made her the first choice for television and film producers in Goa. According to Amita, her journey from the stage led her to the screen and she went on to receive an award for the “Best Actress” category in Goa. “It was the era when cable TV had just started spreading its tentacles across the length and breadth of Goa. DD wanted more content to showcase but not many cable operators had DD on their channel list, and there was no alternative or similar channel to DD with the national channels like StarTV, Sony, and Zee TV who offered quality content to every household,” said Amita, adding that one of the local channels approached her to request to work with them for their show, and that was the beginning of another journey which completed 500 episodes.
The Actor Turned Cook
According to Amita, her fans and audience feel that she is a very good cook but she believes that she is a good actor. “My interest and my soul lie in acting. There are no two ways about it – I am a good cook! I cook for people, my friends, but my heart lies in the field of acting,” said Amita adding, that her journey in cooking began with a feature in Gomantak “Chala Khavuya” (Let’s Eat) “People received it so well that they would tell me upon reading my section that they would start salivating and feel tempted to eat those dishes!”
Sometimes, Behind Every Successful Woman, There is a Man
There’s a popular saying that behind every successful man, there is a woman but sometimes, the opposite can also be true. According to Amita, her husband has always been her strong support system and he never stopped her from pursuing any endeavors that she thought to take up. There is a very interesting story is there behind this.
Amita met her would-be husband at one of her play performances at Kala Academy. “I was just 18 years old when he saw me first and apparently fell for me. Later on, he found my address and got in touch with me and told me how much he loved my work and was fascinated by it,” said Amita, adding that she told him that if she were to marry him, then he would have to allow her to do her further studies, to which he agreed. “I wanted to become a doctor, but due to my financial conditions at home, I had to settle for a teacher’s course and when my husband agreed to allow me to do further studies, I was very happy, but destiny had another plan for me and within the first year of getting married, we had a child, and that ended all my plans of becoming a doctor!”
“My husband has been really supportive of my work and despite the fact that in those days, working in films, TV and spending a lot of time outside for shoots was not very acceptable to society, especially for married women, but my husband never came in the way of my work and in fact he always encouraged me to go ahead: he has been my inspiration,” said Amita.
Amita and her husband are into social causes and work towards supporting people. “We do this through the Rotary club. Initially, there were no women in the club, but after seeing my work and how things are, they made provisions to include women in the club as we see today,” said Amita, adding women can do a lot of things, and it’s not that only she can do all these things alone, many women out there have a lot of hidden talents waiting to be explored. But the idea is for women to believe in themselves, and prove the things that they can do instead of doubting themselves. The main thing women should know is how to carry themselves and be an example for others too.