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Bollywood sojourn of Shammi



Former Doordarshan newsreader, Shammi Narang.

WHILE THE film "Maqbool'' released in theatres across the country this past fortnight has brought together some of the finest of talent from Bollywood, it also features a first-timer who probably has done his first and last role. And while people might recognise this Doordarshan newsreader doing the character of a politician, Mr. Bhonsle, in "Maqbool'', it was, by his own admission, a nice experience for him.

"The best part of the film is that even the smallest character has an identity. And though I play a shadow character and appear in only seven scenes, I am discussed throughout the film,'' says Shammi Narang, who has made a foray into Bollywood by accepting this role. "Every character in the film adds value to it and has not been picked up just to fill the frame.''

It was in March last year that he got a call from Vishal Bhardwaj, the film's director, that there was a role tailor-made for him and whether he would accept it. "It is a voice-oriented role,'' I was told. "And I decided to give it a shot.''

Having had no experience in acting except for a lead role in the film "Uttejna'' made in 1986 - a film which was screened only on the festival circuit - Shammi along with others in the film was given an orientation by the veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah.

"It was a good learning experience working among such big stars as Om Puri, Pankaj Kapoor, Irfan and Tabu,'' says the former Doordarshan newsreader who now has his own studio at Hauz Khas in Delhi. "I was very fortunate to be in the cream of talent.''

Well, Shammi had, in the past, given voice-overs to many corporate films made by the producer of Maqbool, Bobby Bedi. As for Vishal, he has always been a good friend and wanted to involve him in something creative. "I play the role of a main politician in the film who is attached to the king - a role ably essayed by Pankaj Kapoor. Mr. Bhonsle, the Minister, can go to any part of his room. I save him, get the cops transferred and so on.''

However, Shammi is quick to point out that his role is not a cheap one. Instead, it is a well-read educated person who knows how to manipulate.

"Pankaj Kapoor's character is more like that of Marlon Brando - even if he wants to kill someone, he does it quietly. But I am there to save him whenever he gets into trouble. The entire gang knows that Mr. Bhonsle is there to help them.''

Satisfied with what comes his way, the 46-year-old Shammi says he was not making any effort to use the opportunity to act in more films.

"Doordarshan has given me the kind of recognition I wanted,'' says Shammi, adding: "It is too late for me to start looking for opportunities as an actor.''

And of course, the man who has been reading news regularly on Doordarshan for the past 20 years has no regrets staying in Delhi. "In Mumbai, every Friday decides your fate. The more involvement you have with films, the more is the insecurity. I am quite satisfied with what life has given me,'' he says.

By Kannan K

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