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‘Mahabharat’ was ‘Sholay’ of the small screen: … says the man who played Krishna


“The television serial ‘Mahabharat’, which was telecast on Doordarshan during the late 1980s can be easily compared to the immortal silver screen blockbuster, ‘Sholay’. Both these big screen and small screen productions were perfect in all departments of production and acting”, said Nitish Bharadwaj, who enacted the role of Lord Krishna in the highly popular tele-series.

“Even today people remember me as Lord Krishna”, he stated, maintaining that not every television serial can attain the phenomenal height B R Chopra’s ‘Mahabharata’ achieved.

Nitish, who had been away from the Indian audiences for nearly a decade-and-a-half, said that he was in London for many years building a career in theatre. “I did contemporary plays as well as those based on classics like ‘Ramayan’, besides doing some productions for BBC Radio 4”, he informed, pointing out that the western society is slowly opening up to the Indian culture and traditions. In fact, the libraries in the UK greatly influenced Nitish.

Following his ‘incarnation’ of Lord Krishna in ‘Mahabharat’, Nitish had acted in several Marathi as well as Hindi films including Nabendu Ghosh’s ‘Trishagni’ opposite Pallavi Joshi and K Vishwanath’s ‘Sangeet’ opposite Madhuri Dixit. And then he entered politics contesting Parliamentary elections from Jamshedpur as a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate.

“I subsequently realised that politics was not my calling. I lost interest in electoral politics. Nevertheless, I will try to do as much as possible for social causes from the political platform”, Nitish said, shrugging off any possibility of contesting elections in the future.

Speaking further, Nitish said that after spending considerable time on the British stage he felt that his real interest lay in films. “And that’s when I decided to return to my roots”, he stated, pointing out, “In this way, I came to direct ‘Pitruroon’, a Marathi film based on a story by Sudha Murthy.”

‘Pitruroon’, which Nitish describes as his directorial debut, starred Tanuja and narrated the emotional story of a romance failed by a cruel twist of fate; a confrontation of shattered family values and rebuilding of human bonds. The film won critical acclaim as well as several awards and provided the much needed shot in the arm for Nitish.

“I have no language barriers as a director, and would like to direct Marathi as well as Hindi films”, Nitish said, adding that he wanted an emotional story, which could allow him to handle the sensitive side of life, and that’s how ‘Pitruroon’ happened. “I would also like to direct similar subjects in the future”, he mentioned, informing that ‘Yaksh’, his latest film as an actor, is presently complete and into final mixing stages in the laboratory, and should release by early next year. The film is a psychological thriller directed by Mukul Abhyankar.

Nitish, who began his career as a Marathi newsreader with Mumbai Doordarshan, further said that today his focus is films and not television. “Anyway, I did go back to television recently as a judge for a Marathi dance reality show – Jallosh Survanayugacha – on ETV Marathi”, he said, noting that he would, however, not like to act in television programmes, although anchoring for television shows could be considered.

Interestingly, following his role of Lord Krishna, Nitish went back to mythology and television in 2003 and enacted the role of Lord Vishnu for the television serial, ‘Vishnu Puran’. It, however, did not attain the same popularity as ‘Mahabharata’. But then as Nitish himself has said, “Every serial cannot attain the heights achieved by ‘Mahabharat’.”

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