Conquering both the worlds

I am not a great actor and get cast in negative shades probably because that is the way I look but I can act badly,” says adman-actor-director Bharat Dabholkar who has pursued his passion for creating advertisements and directing theatre with a fine balance.

He knows how to manage his schedule and loves the variety that his life provides him. “One day I sit in my office in Tanzania and select candidates for KBC while on the other I act as a villain in a film or stand behind the wings to capture audience reaction when my play is being staged,” says the man behind many Amul Butter ads.

It was his quest to find a “college-canteen atmosphere”, where he could crack jokes and make others laugh, that brought him close to theatre years back when he had already become a big name in the ad world. “I missed that carefree environment in life and so took to theatre. Even after 31 plays, I find the whole experience of stagecraft fun,” he relishes the thought and adds that it is his deliberate attempt to keep his characters in films short, “Because I don’t have time to play major characters. Normally, people want bigger roles but it is the other way round for me.”

In the City recently to stage his farcical play Blame It On Yashraj under the banner of Ashvin Gidwani Productions, he sits on the staircase of Siri Fort and shares how he stuck to theatre because he got a chance to experiment. “A Marathi tamasha can be done in English. Also, theatre is very alive and if you don’t like something in one show then you can change it in the next. My plays keep changing and adapting to the topical scenario,” says the dramatist in him while he holds the actor within him for a while.
Quite matter-of-factly, he points out the leverage that people take in using ‘Hinglish’ which he invented through his plays. He feels that people “Probably found Hinglish fascinating but use it in a very odd way. The base line of ad campaign for Ford ‘Go Fida’ was wrong since the correct usage is ‘Ho Fida’. Ideally Hinglish is the juxtaposition of two perfect languages – Hindi and English. The right way to use it is to replace a word in an English sentence with a Hindi word of the same meaning.” The director in him maintains a certain strictness and he voices his opinion about the mad rush behind stars.

Having signed a three-film contract with DAR Motion Pictures, Bharat says that though he “has to be more innovative in the ad world but  films are more about stars. Even before people listen to the story, they ask ‘Who is acting in your film?’” As soon as the disgust in his voice gets apparent, he drifts the subject to his upcoming films and adds, “I am planning to adapt some successful plays as films,” providing a cue for an interesting chat on his next visit!     

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