'My only idol was Rajesh Khanna'

Candid moments

'My only idol was Rajesh Khanna'

I wanted to become an actor for films. My only idol was Rajesh Khanna. That was the kind of cinema reaching me in Ludhiana,” confesses the seasoned actor Pankaj Kapur who is gathering accolades for his character of Mandola in Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola.

Known to have portrayed off beat roles with ease, Pan­k­aj’s acting skills have been pro­ven beyond doubt across genres - beginning with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Ek Doctor ki Maut to Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and to more recent hits like Maqbool. But back then, like any other youngster obssessed with cinema, he too wanted to be actor.

However, his perspective changed when he joined National School of Drama. “By God’s grace, I got selected in NSD and met Mr Alkazi, who opened our minds to world theatre, world cinema and world painting. That gave us a huge kick and we were expo­s­ed to everything that was available.” Theatre engrossed him so much that he no longer wanted to be a part of films!

“My father asked me if he should buy me a one-room space in Bombay because eventually I will have to go there. But I asked him, ‘Who wants to be in films?’ I loved theatre and wanted to spend all my life here!” But destiny had something else in store. “I was thrown out of NSD and only then did I start looking out for films.” 
 
Initially, he got small budget films like Aarohan, but these were insufficient to earn a livelihood. The financial constraints pushed him towards television which made him a household name. “When television came my way, it was a very bitter decision. I had to go for television because I had no money.

Karamchand happened because I had no money. It was a question of survival. So I said ‘yes’. The serial went on to to be a huge hit and I suddenly became a national figure and eventually, landed in Mumbai,” says the actor who has since gone on to popular shows like Zabaan Sambhaal Ke and Office Office.

His shows have been loved by the viewers but he doesn’t wish to continue in television. “Television back then, had quality. Today, TV channels tell you to change the script. It has also become a very tiring medium. Cinema, on the other hand, has changed in the last 10 years and there are a lot of good things happening.”

He tried to continue theatre in Mumbai but shifted to writing when he found that it was being disrespected. Lamenting the lack of good writers in film and theatre, Pankaj says, “The unfortunate bit is that there are no writers. This is a huge problem in films too. The output of writing is so little that no new theatre is coming out. After some time, it becomes very boring to have the same adaptations, same plays which have been done millions of times before,” he sighs softly.

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