The first ever screen appearance that I remember of Amole Gupte, was in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. He wore a grey blazer and was doing a running commentary on the last cycle race … Sidharth Sharma reporting from the first check point at Pykara Junction …. etc. That was more than a decade and half ago, and things have changed since then.
When his name flashed allover the media as a result of his fantastic story/scripting of Taare Zameen Par, I just could not relate the two faces. The similarity between the younger Amole and the older one was zilch, I just wondered how Joker[TDK] would look with his make-up ripped off. It was a similar kind of feeling, seeing Amole with those long strands of silken hair falling allover the face. But that was just the beginning of the surprise. Sometime later when I learnt that he would be playing Priyanka Chopra’s brother Bhope Bhau in Vishal Bharadwaj‘s movie Kaminey, I freaked out. My mind started swirling as I began imagining him playing the creepy character from the underbelly of Mumbai, and at the same time I was confused. How would a sensitive guy, who wrote TZP with such sincerity and innocence, pull off an underworld character who is supposed to be ruthless, gripy, wicked, whacky!
But even before TZP was in the making I fleetingly recalled that Amole was the host of a talk-show called Bindaas Bol which was telecast on SonyTv in the mid-90’s. It was more of a discussion forum, much like We The People, hosted by NDTV which started years later, much after Bindaas Bol had come and gone. Even in Bindaas Bol, Amole was a fiery host/moderator with a ponytail. I don’t remember all the episodes, but two of them I can vividly recall. One of the topics of discussion was on ‘Acceptance Of Gays In Our Society’ and I was quite impressed by the depth and maturity of the chat that took place, way ahead of times for mid-90’s. I was really appreciative of the guy. The other topic was about ‘techno-chor’ where they were discussing how to cheat in exams using technology. Sanjay Dutt did that in Munnabhai MBBS, much much later, using hands-free. But the guys who participated in the discussion were using satellite communication and had that connected to their watches and other gadgets which was their own small-time inventions. It blew me off, I too wanted to do that for my 10th Board Exams back then. Well, he raked up a few other politically relevant issues in his show, some controversial and others not so much. But I don’t seem to remember other episodes so well.
Anyways, Amole is a multi-talented personality. Being a product of FTII – Pune, he spent more than a decade there, learning all the various facets of film-making. He was a fantastic painter during his schooling days. I guess we all know that the characrter of Nikumb was based on his school teacher. Even in TZP, those paintings and caricatures/cartoons were all done by him. He put a lot of himself in the movie. Not just painted, he also wrote the song Mera Jahan:
A Little Sweet, A Little Sour
A Little Close Not Too Far
All I Need, All I Need
All I Need Is To Be Free
What a beautiful thought told with such innocence and child-like feelings, simple and straight. And here’s the best part of that lyrical piece by him:
Udne Ko Sau Pankh Diye Hai
Chadhne Ko Khula Aasmaan
Mudne Ko Hai Karwat Karwat
Aur Badhne Ko Mera Jahan
The flights of fantasy that we all want to indulge in, but always skeptical of our own potential is very well worded here. The will to break free was always there. Then of course, the age old philosophy of one-life so live it well on our own terms. Beautifully expressed!
Bachpan Ke Din Chaar
Na Aayenge Baar Baar
Jee Le Jee Le Mere Yaar
Jeib Khaali To Udhaar
I am still surprised that Children’s Film Society of India [CFSI] turned down the script. All the panelists had approved of it, but the head Sai Paranjpe. She rejected it. Of all people, Sai Paranjpe, I am actually more than surprised, I am shcoked. Anyways, destiny works in weird ways.
He wished Akshaye Khanna could play the character of Ramshankar Nikumb. Reason being that, he was impressed with Akshay’s portrayal of a sensitive painter who goes against societal norms, Sid in DCH. He went around with his script but never could meet Akshaye. That’s when Aamir borrowed the script and read it, with due permission of course, and he wished to be a part of it. What transpired between them, I seriously don’t know. All I know is that, TZP was made well, an awesome movie that swept the awards, was India’s entry to the Oscars etc. Neither Amole nor Aamir want to broach this topic, again. Its a karmic cycle which will catch-up with either of the two or both, soon enough.
By the way, even before his freak appearance in JJWS[Tom Alter was supposed to play the part of the commentator, but that did not happen since he failed to turn up], he had done a movie with Aamir Khan. It was Ketan Mehta’s movie Holi. A movie that I am still looking for, wonder if anybody can provide me some exclusive viewing of this. His association with Ketan Mehta was not new, he was the Assisstant Director of Mirch Masala, another fabulous movie by Ketan Mehta.
Coming back to the Bhope Bhau character in Kaminey, I am dying to see him perform. I wonder what he would bring to the screen. And not just this movie, I am also looking forward to his next venture Sapno Ko Ginte Ginte. It’s a film revolving around children, I hear. Lets wait and watch!