Joined: 30 March 2004
Interview with actor Dipak Kazir (Vishwanath Agarwal)
Deepak Kazir as Babuji (Vishwanath Agarwal) in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki
He is taking a short nap, as I enter his make-up room on the sets of Kasautii Zindagii Kay. Frankly, I don't recognize him at first glance. I last saw him minus his moustache when he was shooting for Kahanii Ghar Ghar Kii. But he is sharp and alert. The noise of the door turning open (mind you, it did not even creak) wakes him up immediately and he says, "Hi, how are you doing?"
In a flash, he is ready for a free-wheeling interview. "Ask me anything. I am game," he quips. "But why don't we have some tea first?" he adds. Over hot cups of tea, he slowly opens his heart. Even before the interview has begun, I have developed an immense respect for him.
Meet Dipak Kazir aka Babuji of Kahanii Ghar Ghar Kii and Kasautii Zindagi Kay. Excerpts from an interview with Vickey Lalwani.
How did acting get into you?
It all began when I was asked to perform in a school show. I was shocked at my teacher's decision. Reason: I used to stammer a lot. I protested, but nobody listened. Surprisingly, when I went up on the stage, I performed the scene without stammering even a wee bit. Everybody was shocked, most of all myself. And I started using acting as a therapy.
Interesting. Please continue.
Well, I began to enjoy it to the hilt. It had cured me of an embarrassment. I joined theatre. There, I met Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Raj Babbar. We hit it off very nicely. Even today, though not regularly, we do keep in touch. I can talk to them about any problems I have, and they try to solve it in any way they can. I also did a stint at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
You started in films with Kundan Shah's 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron'?
Yes. Kundan offered me the role and I liked it very much. Prior to that, I had done a few episodes for Doordarshan.
And then came 'Karamchand'?
(with a gleam in his eye) How can I forget that? That role of Inspector Khan was a major turning point in my career. Director Pankaj Parashar had first met me at FTII and had seen a play which I had directed. The actors were Pankaj Kapur, Sushmita Mukherjee and Ajit Vachchani.
Wow! You used to direct in theatre?
Yes. Why are you so surprised? That's where my origins are. Actually, acting has made me lazy. I want to go back to direction. I know the technique. I am working towards realising this. Of course, its thanks to Ekta that I got meaty roles in two of her prestigious serials, but I have now started feeling burnt out. I want to do something else. Something special. I don't want to go on playing Babuji. By October, I will opt out of one serial. I don't know which one, but it will happen for sure.
Which other serials did you do along the way?
Nukkad and Farz.
What happened to the serial 'Dhadkan' on Sony TV wherein you were playing an obssessive father?
There was some problem with the channel and the serial got shelved.
How important is the director to you?
Of course, he is important. It's been great working with almost all the directors I have had. On television, actors develop a great rapport with directors. Sometimes we actors tell the director a few things on how and what to do. It's a very congenial atmosphere on the sets. Both these serials, Kasautii... and Kahanii... have gone on for such a long period, that to say that we actors have got into the skin of our character, would be an understatement.
Do you feel we have enough on TV? Aren't we sort of stuck with the 'saas bahu' types?
There is a lack of novelty, no doubt. As for the 'saas-bahu' serials, well, of course they are dragging. I personally feel the audience will put an end to it, one day. But... (pauses)
But we have to look at it from the other side as well. It is very difficult to be creative every day in a daily soap. And the 'janta' who watches it believes that they are script-writers, creative heads, directors... everything (shrugs his shoulders). Ekta Kapoor has tried her best.
You see so many youngsters around you. Are they professional enough in their demeanour?
Amongst the co-stars, I think Kiran Karmarkar, Saakshi Tanwar and Cezzane Khan are an ocean of talent. Mark my words, they will go far.
Even though 'Kahanii...' is not No.1 on TRP ratings, it is consistently among the top three. What makes this serial tick?
This is primarily because this serial propagates strong moral values which were present in our culture until recently. The elder generation is perturbed at the way it is being treated by its children. So, our target audience is the elderly folk. They are being told through this serial that they have a voice which needs to be raised against the ill-treatment meted out to them. The other day, Ali Asgar and I were stopped by a 50 year old man who told me that he was gaining a lot through my portrayal as the head of the family.
At first, I did not give him too much importance. But slowly, when I looked into his eyes, I realised that he was about to break down. Through me, who is the head of the family in Kahanii..., he was feeling within himself about how nice it would have been if his real life was similar to my reel life.
You said you are working towards becoming a director. Who is writing the script?
Well, I myself am writing it. Let me tell you that directng a film is my ultimate goal. I would prefer starting by directing a play, then a serial, eventually a film. I don't want to be an also-ran.
But what if a great role on television comes up?
Presently, I would bypass it.
Going back to 'Karamchand'. Why don't they make thrillers like that anymore?
Television will have to revive some old subjects. A thriller like Karamchand would be ideal in today's times when there is a huge wave of suspense rising in the cinema circuit; today, every third or fourth film is a thriller. But then, if you see some serials like Kahanii..., there is a whodunnit element in it too. Like recently, there was a lot of excitement on who had committed the murder for which Om had been implicated.
What is your opinion about comedy on television?
Where is it? Search me! So how can I give you an opinion?
So what is the reason of this malaise- no thrillers, no comedy, why do you think it's such a sad scenario on Indian television?
There is a dearth of script writers; perhaps due to the fact that our guys don't read much. If you don't read, how will you assimilate what is happening around you? Hence, you don't see much content. Television was much better in terms of content in the 1980s and 90s. All the energies are being focussed on the gloss, sheen...
Which serials do you personally like?
I 'used' to like Friends.
Is television taxing at this age?
Hey, man! I am just 52. I am a very young man at heart. I am as energetic as the young guys around me.
How much has television helped you monetarily?
Tremendously. The last three years have been very good. Touch wood.
Tell me something about your personal life if you don't mind.
Presently, I am single. I was a married man, but we parted ways amicably. Thereafter, I have been into relationships. Down the line, I have learnt a very blatant fact of life. You are all alone in this world, even if you have multiplied your family as much as you want.
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