The 35-year-old actress, who is making a comeback on small screen after nearly eight years, describes the role as one of her toughest till now.
The character of Sucharita, inspired by actor Suchitra Sen, "is strong outside but vulnerable inside, someone who had come to the film world by design, someone who never flees from struggle," Paoli told PTI.
"I love evocative silence but here it is more verbose...mouthing one dialogue after another. This role drained me a lot. Four-five months I lived within the character," she added.
The TV show to be aired from June 27 also stars Prosenjit Chatterjee.
Asked if his role is loosely based on Uttam Kumar, Prosenjit said, "The more I took part in the shooting, the greater I had an intimate knowledge about that time (60's-'70s). As I enact certain incidents rumoured to have taken place in the protagonist's life, I connect with them."
"I won't use words like challenging to describe how I felt when I faced the camera as 'Mahanayak'. It is a blessing for me."
Directed by Birsa Dasgupta, "Mahanaya" is conceptualized by Kamaleswar Mukherjee, director of "Meghe Dhaka Tara" and "Chander Pahar".
Paoli is also part of Mukherjee's upcoming film where she is again paired with Prosenjit.
"It is a tale of love, lust and betrayal, it's a dark love story which Bengal has never seen," she said.