By Jyothi Venkatesh from Pune International Film Festival
The audience loved and appreciated my work in comic roles. However, there is regret in my mind that my many other off beat roles were not so appreciated. I got an image of a lead comedy actor and people liked it. People liked the comedy generating from the script or words but did not like the situational comedy as much, opined veteran film, television and theater actor Ashok Saraf while interacting with the media at Patrakar Sangha today.
Dr. Jabbar Patel, Festival Director of the Pune International film festival unfolded various aspects of Ashok Saraf’s illustrious career of 50 years through an interactive session with him. Saraf was awarded with the ‘PIFF Distinguished Award’ for his outstanding contribution to cinema yesterday during the inaugural session of 19th PIFF, this interactive session was organized on this backdrop.
Saraf who made a debut in films through ‘Donhi Gharcha Pahuna Upashi’ in 1971 said, “I am glad that my various films with Laxmikant Berde got the audiences to theaters. My films with him had some specific style of comedy, which was enjoyed by the audiences. However, we did not get the writers and the scripts that were different from the ones we were doing. We attempt comedy from our end but it is important to understand that how audiences find it.”
Also read: “I choose projects because I’m interested in the character, in the story, not just because they are women oriented topics”: Ram Madhvani
“Though I did not get any Guru, I kept on observing and learning from various actors. I originally hail from Belgaum but my upbringing was done in Mumbai. My uncle had a drama company and my introduction to the entertainment segment and acting started from there. I admired the compassion in comedy of Charlie Chaplin, liked the style of Laurel and Hardy and appreciated Raja Gosavi’s words throw in dialogue delivery. This learning attitude from veterans helped me a lot in my career”, admitted Saraf who has acted in more than 250 Marathi films.
Saraf has been playing Tabla since the age of 5 years and that rhythm sense reflects in his dialogue delivery. He has sung songs in Marathi Musical Play ‘Sangeet Sanshaykallol’ and a Marathi movie ‘Kalat Nakalat’ but he did not pursue the career in music much since he felt that he was not very good at it.
“Vijaya Mehta gave me the confidence to work in theater and the opportunity given by her to play a character in Hamidabaichi Kothi was a memorable one”, said Saraf while sharing his experiences about theater.
A diehard fan of P. L. Deshpande, Saraf said that he still reads literature of PuLa whenever he wants freshen up his mind. Similarly, songs of Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi from 50s and 60s help him to set his mood for shooting. He concluded by saying that his role in a television serial ‘Hum Paanch’ gave him the identity all over the country.