'Hindi serials are third grade'

Exceptional Thespian

With every dialogue that this natural actor delivers, Mohan Agasahe sets an example for generations to follow.

A psychiatrist by instruction and an actor by intuition, Mohan leaves an indelible mark on the audience with his performances. Metrolife gets candid in an exclusive tete-a-tete with this fascinating stalwart, who was in the City to stage Mohan Rakesh’s play Adhe Adhure, during the recently concluded Mahindra Theatre Festival.

A man of diverse interests, Mohan is known to leave an indelible mark on his audience through his compelling performances on stage and screen. His negative portrayals make it difficult to believe that he is extremely jovial in real life. Associated with theatre since schooltime, Mohan mentions that he was “a child artiste in Sai Paranjpe's group ‘Children’s Theatre’ and used to perform at AIR. It was when I was in medical college that my passion for theatre increased.”

Known as Nana Phadnis of the iconic play Ghasiram Kotwal, Mohan thinks that playing negative roles initially was by chance but later he got typecast. “Maybe my face makes people feel I should be given negative characters.” But why continue to portray negative roles on screen too? “It is a myth that actors choose roles for themselves. Apart from a chosen few, all actors take whatever they are given. In that sense, writers are better since they are not influenced by anyone. But the good part is  “I get to ventilate my negativity on screen and then there is none left in real life. Whereas most people who play good characters on screen are the opposite in real life!”

The professor has always stressed on audio-visual rather than the written word. “When in school, I used to search for smallest book possible. I had a problem with reading. My problem with books must be one of the reasons why I chose acting because whatever I could not express in words, I compensated with in my acting. He shares a secret for his success: “I made friends with intelligent people, and my job was to provoke them into a discussion from where I could learn whatever information they had gathered.”

The unusual connection between theatre and psychiatry is unique to this veteran and the professor deploys theatre to teach psychiatry to his students. “My love for Psychiatry and theatre evolves from my interest in human beings.” And the best way to learn about both is to “Grab a corner, sit and observe people.”

However, Mohan is skeptical about acting for television. “You do one good serial today and your career is finished because you are typecast. Anyway, Hindi serials are third grade. I don’t belong to that world and I can’t relate to it. I don’t want to do that job.”

The actor concludes with his concern towards artists who lack maturity in appreciating others. “It is a drawback in most of the artistes today. Very few are mature enough to understand that you don’t have to do everything. One must find out and appreciate what somebody else is good at.”

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