By Chaitanya Padukone
National Award-winning par-excellence versatile ‘late’ actor Vikram Gokhale is no more with us. But he leaves behind a rich, inspiring legacy of intense and heart-warming, awe-inspiring performances. As a film journalist. I had met Vikram-sir (known for his ‘gravitas’) multiple times either at Marathi movies film parties and events or during shoots of Hindi films. With his stern, unnerving look, initially, I was rather hesitant to go and directly speak to him. Interestingly, it was Vikram-Sir who inquired ‘who’ I was and then he came up to me and emphatically said “Hello, I am Vikram Gokhale” and we broke the ice. We had a casual chat for about ten minutes. Instead of me doing his interview, he was tongue-in-cheek asking me ‘why’ I was not interested in ‘badminton’ (because of my surname) and preferred writing on cinema and what-all movies I have watched recently. During our conversation, Vikram-Sir even came up with a few witty punch lines and we both laughed heartily.
There was this 1989 Marathi movie titled ‘Kallat Nakallat’ (meaning ‘Knowingly Unknowingly’) where Vikram played the role of a happily married husband who gets unwittingly entangled in an extra-marital fling. Following this, his ‘screen-wife’ walks out on him with the kids. It was a sensitive compelling performance and was widely appreciated. Clearly, I remember Vikram-Sir sharing with me at the movie promotional event. That more than the dialogue, it was his dramatic pauses and facial expressions, that conveyed so much remorse and regret. Which he felt was, what acting was all about.
What may not be commonly known, is that charismatic, popular dynamic leader Vikram Gokhale was the President of the Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) since 2017 and in August 2021 was ‘re-elected’ for a second consecutive term.
General Secretary of CINTAA and eminent Film & TV actor Amit Behl became emotional as he recalled and expressed his sentiments. “Vikram-Sir and I shared a very fond personal bonding. In fact, we both also shared the same ‘birth-day’ and he has played my screen father in three TV serial shows and two movies. Great man, great cinema and theatre actor-director, very lively, and benevolent Gokhale-Sir did wonderful work for CINTAA and even donated a plot of land for the Artistes Welfare Trust. During the Covid Pandemic, he went out-of-his way to help the artists in distress which was a boon-blessing and he used his bureaucratic contacts to redress the grievances of artists. We will always miss him,” said Amit Behl.
Acclaimed actress Rajeshwari Sachdev who is formally associated with CINTAA, lamented the tragic loss of Vikram Gokhale-Sir which she felt, has left behind a huge void vacuum in the world of cinema and theatre plays. Continues Rajeshwari, “As the President of CINTAA, Vikram-Sir was very aware, fair, impartial, fully involved and a proactive supportive –crusader of the rights of the Artistes. A discreet philanthropist, Vikram-Sir, at heart, always had the welfare, and safety of the Cine and TV Artistes. Both my husband Varun Badola and I would admire Vikram-sir as he would emote so effectively with his expressive eyes and with every subtle twitch on his face. For instance, the long hospital-bed brilliant scene in the movie ‘Natsamrat’. ‘Watching Gokhale-Sir perform in movies, is like attending an Acting ‘Master Class’! Consider myself so lucky that I could sit with him and interact with him. Undoubtedly, Vikram-Sir will always remain a guiding star,” shares Rajeshwari.
Meanwhile, CINTAA Senior Joint Secretary (popular actor) Sanjay Bhatia shared, “As President of ‘CINTAA’, modest Vikram Gokhale-Sir was a revolutionary guiding star and gave vital timely help-support for the Artistes who had grievances. Sentimental by nature, he was like a Saviour and he would fondly call me ‘Sanju’. In the near future, CINTAA will jointly decide as to how best they should commemorate Vikram-Sir’s name and celebrate his awesome work, maybe by way of some befitting dignified tribute dedicated to his fond memory,” discloses Sanjay Bhatia.
(The writer Chaitanya Padukone is an eminent award-winning senior film-journalist-author)