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How Calendar, a small town boy, charted a Bollywood career

Actor-director Satish Kaushik, best known for his role as Calendar in the blockbuster film ‘Mr India’, on November 22, confessed that he never wanted to be a comedian. “I became a successful comedian after I played Calendar, and in the Hindi film industry when you succeed in one type of role, it sticks with your forever”, said Kaushik. He was speaking about his journey in the film industry during the Master Class on the topic, ‘My Journey as a Comic in Cinema’, at the International Film Festival of India 2014, held at Kala Academy.

Satish Kaushik, who started his acting career in cinema with filmmaker Shyam Benegal’s ‘Mandi’, narrated an incident that he maintained helped him get the role. “I approached Shyambabu as I had heard that he was taking actors from NSD. He agreed and told me to leave some photographs of me behind before leaving. But, I had never done a portfolio, as I was sure that no one would cast me looking at my face. Incidentally, at that time, I had my X-ray reports with me. So, I casually told him that I have my X-ray reports and I was sure that I would look more beautiful from within. Shyambabu had a hearty laugh and told me at that very moment that I was in”, said Kaushik.

Kaushik who hails from a humble background was a scared child, but he maintains that he had self confidence and that helped him not only with his acting, but also to face hardships of life. “When I came to Bombay in 1979, I started working in a textile mill at a job that paid me Rs 400, even though I was a graduate from NSD and FTII, Pune. But, I took it in my stride and my humble background helped me in this journey. I would do odd jobs on sets during which I realised that people behind the camera are more powerful, and that they are the visionaries”, he stated.

In his talk, Kaushik also gave credit to the various people who helped shape him and his career. “My teacher at NSD, Al Kazi helped shape my personality. He always told us that we should collect the best from our personality and use it”, he said. Talking about filmmakers like Kundan Shah, Shekhar Kapur, Boney Kapoor and his association with them, Kaushik who assisted Shekhar Kapur for the film ‘Masoom’ said, “For me, Shekhar was like a filmmaking school. With Mr India he created a comic book structure on screen. He has a great sense of cinema. The person who made movies like ‘Masoom’ and ‘Mr India’ also made a very different movie like ‘Bandit Queen’.”

Kaushik who has portrayed various roles in more than 100 films and directed about 14 films, also shared his failure as a filmmaker after the flop of his debut movie as a director ‘Roop Ki Rani, Choron Ka Raja.’

“The movie had the best of cast like Anil Kapoor and Sridevi, big sets, good music and all the ingredients for a box office hit. So, when it flopped, I took it very personally. My personality changed and I took to introspecting. I looked back on my career, which made me realise from where I came and how people shaped my career. I started again with positivity”, said Kaushik, who believes that one should go on re-discovering oneself. Kaushik, who is today synonymous with comic roles, mentioned that he wanted to do a variety of roles. He was offered a role in the English film ‘Brick Lane.’  “I worked very hard and tried to do full justice to the role of a Bangaladeshi person settled in London 30 years. The role was that of a person who is a failure and for me that was the most challenging”, said Kaushik, who is still unsatisfied as an artist and wants to explore himself as an actor and filmmaker.

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