RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR | NT NETWORK
Q: How did you land a role in Rajendra Talak’s bilingual film, ‘Miranda House’?
I had heard about him but unfortunately not seen any of his films. Many of my relatives are in Goa; the Shinkre family… In fact, the shooting of ‘Miranda House’ started in October, last year, and I had come to Goa a month prior to it. I am a trekker and at that time was visiting Dudhsagar along with my friend to shoot the waterfall. Incidentally, Talak called me a day before my arrival in Goa. It was a coincidence. I was told that it was a Konkani/ Marathi film and he needed me for this particular role of the mysterious man. He also knew that I was half-Konkani and could speak the language, which was a double advantage. Soon I met him in Margao, he narrated the script and then signed me on that very day. I went back, and soon we were shooting together. I am delighted to act in a Konkani film.
Q: ‘Bhatkanti’, a popular travel show on Zee Marathi channel was presented by you. Do you think its reach was restricted to Maharashtra and Goa because of the Marathi language in which it was presented and had it been made in either Hindi or English, it would have reached all over the country?
Definitely! I agree, but then basically it was a programme on Maharashtra and I was showing places from Maharashtra. In fact, the programme was based on my travel books like ‘Majhi Mulukhgiri’. Another book ‘Hawai Mulukhgiri’ has been recently published. Anyway, I did not need any script while shooting ‘Bhatkanti’ as I knew all these places in Maharashtra like the back of my hand. So it was logical that the programme be in Marathi, firstly as it was based on places from Maharashtra and then it was telecast on a Marathi television channel. However, I would definitely like to do it in Hindi too, if I get some outlet.
Q: You also served as the Brand Ambassador of Maharashtra government for forest and wildlife…
In this capacity, I tried to bring together two departments of the government of Maharashtra, Tourism and Forest, even though my main work is in the field of tourism and not forest and wildlife. Forest and wildlife however are close to my heart. In fact, during my ‘Bhatkanti’ programme, I used to also show wildlife as well as monuments such as forts. Soon people thought that I am also into forest and wildlife. Of course, I do have knowledge of forest and wildlife, but I am more into tourism. I have tremendous love for forts from Maharashtra, which are over 350 in number. Most of these forts are in a dilapidated condition and if they are not looked after properly, they are going to be totally destroyed. I tried to show all these forts in my programme and thought that if from the tourism point of view, they could be restored, they would not only be preserved, but the government could earn some revenue and the tourism would get a boost. If it could be done for 10 to 15 good forts then nothing like it. Now, most of these forts are located in jungle area, and therefore they are under the forest department. If we want to do something for the forts from tourism aspect, then the forest department naturally comes into picture. Therefore, I tried to see that both these departments come together and provide few solutions so that the forts could be given new lease of life without affecting the forest. That was the idea.
Q: ‘Everest’ a Hindi telenovela telecast by STAR Plus channel had you playing an important role. How was the experience to shoot in Himalayas?
Oh, ‘Everest’ was one of the projects of a lifetime. It was very tough shooting for this television project. I had never stayed on a glacier before shooting for ‘Everest’. For 20 continuous days we stayed there at a height of around 12,000 feet. The moment the sun went down, the temperature dropped between –5° and –10° and we were staying on a ice slab, the glacier, in a tent. It was so cold that we had to use sleeping bags. The early mornings used to be difficult. And it was not just staying there, but we were acting too, with all those clothes and the make-up… The oxygen also used to be less at that location so we had difficulty in breathing. In short, we were actually moving like the mountaineers and shooting. A difficult task!
Q: What do you like playing, a lead actor, a villain or a character role, having enacted all during your career?
Irrespective of what information is there on google, the actual number of films I have done is 250, in all languages, including around 210 in Hindi and 15 to 20 Marathi films, besides Punjabi and South Indian movies. The roles close to my heart include the one in my first big hit ‘Fareb’. In fact, the people in North India identify me with the song from the film, ‘Yeh Aankhen Jhooki Jhooki’. In Western Maharashtra, they call me Bapu Biru as I had played the title role in ‘Bapu Biru Vategaonkar’ and it was a big hit. It was released in the same year as ‘Shwaas’. Then I had acted in the song, ‘Aika Dajiba’. So also they call me Dajiba in Maharashtra. However, the film very close to my heart is ‘Godmother’, in which I acted with Shabana Azmi, and she even said some good words about my acting. Then there was ‘Virasat’. But as an actor for me every role that comes is important.
Q: Why are you not active on stage, especially when Maharashtra has long and illustrious tradition of theatre art?
My career itself started as a model. I was the Digjam model. I was never interested in acting. Then filmmaker Govind Nihalani saw my advertisement and picked me up for his film, ‘Drohkaal’. As I was not an actor, I had no attraction for theatre. However, Nihalani made me do theatre with Pt Satyadev Dubey to get the experience. So I did only that much of stage. After I came into films my career skyrocketed very fast, and I was only doing films and not anything else. I can still think about coming on the stage if the role is really good, but I am more comfortable before the camera.