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Actor-filmmaker Satish Kaushik shares his mid-career perspective and exciting outlook for the future



LOOKING AHEAD Satish Kaushik

Satish Kaushik is hard to box and categorise. From stand-up comedy on television and sensitive celluloid portrayals to mainstream film direction and substantive theatre — he's done it all. Kaushik was in New Delhi recently to promote the film distribution company (UV News) he has set up in partnership with long time associate Pramod Sharma.

“I'm excited by the trend of new age, crossover cinema and feel the time is right to get into distribution on a pan Indian as well as international scale,” he says.

Born in a village in Haryana, Kaushik grew up in the bustling Delhi. In 1972 he enrolled in the prestigious National School of Drama (NSD) in the Capital. He went on to get a diploma from the Film and Television Institute (FTII) in Pune.

“In 1983 (after FTII) I began work as a dialogue writer for Kundan Shah's ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron' followed by assisting Shekhar Kapoor in ‘Masoom'. This was also my first film as an actor and a big learning experience,” he recalls. However, the movie that gave him a peg in public imagination was the immensely popular 1987 release “Mr. India”. Kaushik's rendition of Calendar, the delightfully eccentric housekeeper who manages a bunch of rambunctious orphans, won many hearts.Character roles in other films followed at fairly regular intervals. However it was not until much later that he got a “truly meaty role to dig one's teeth into”. In the 2007 British production “Brick Lane”, Kaushik turned in a finely layered performance as Chanu Ahmed. Based on a novel by Monica Ali, the film gave him an opportunity to breathe life into the persona of a Bangladeshi immigrant in 1970s Britain. Film direction is a sphere where Kaushik has had mixed results. Although he's tackled a range of genres, from a comic caper (“Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja”) and a love story (“Prem”), a musical (“Karzz”), most of his effort failed to excite the box office. “Hum Aapke Ke Dil Mein Rahte Hain” in 1999 was one of the exceptions.

Kaushik fondly recalls his time on television — a relatively brief stint made memorable by distinctive work. His conception and rendition of the bumbling brothers from Phagwara, Punjab, who anchored a film song countdown was a runaway hit. Does Kaushik concur with the dictum that theatre is the paramount forum to test one's acting chops? “No doubt there is a satisfaction that is very unique to the stage — to being in the same physical space as your audience.”Kaushik is brimming with ideas for the future. On why he's kept a low profile during the past couple of years he says, “I have used the time to grow as an artiste — reading novels and plays, watching a range of regional and international films as well as working on scripts. This sabbatical has given me material to do work that will keep me busy for several years to come.”

NUPUR SHARMA

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