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A Small Tribute To Ravi Baswani

It came as a rude shock to me when I learnt that Ravi Baswani is no more. He passed away today, due to a major cardiac arrest. In another 2 months he would’ve celebrated his 65th birthday, but fate had other plans.

Last week sometime I was reading an interview of his where he was questioned about the reason for doing such few movies and he candidly said that he did not wish to be typecast as a faltering bumpkin. All the roles that he got after the success of Chashme Buddoor and the critically acclaimed Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was that of a comedian. But we all know that Ravi Baswani was more than a comic actor, he had potential for lot more, but no opportunity to showcase that.

In JBDY itself he portrayed a range of emotions, from being a scared-shit guy who does not wish to visit the park at night, to the dismayed guy at the railway station who does not wish to travel ticketless, to a harmless flirt who tries to woo ShobhaJi in his photo-studio, to an idealist who believes in the system and hopes something good will come of it. His act as ‘Sudhir’ was not just something we could relate to, but also somebody we could empathise with. JBDY was his best work to date, next only to his debut movie Chashme Buddoor.

In Chashme Buddoor, Ravi played the bike-riding college student so effortlessly. The scene where he gives lift to Wini Paranjpe and she just runs away into her boyfriend’s arms while he watches on, was fantastic. I am always in splits when I see this scene, not once it has failed to make me smile. The manner in which he begs for udhaari from the paanwala and promises to pay back the moment he receives money from his dad is so well done. Playing a typical student character is not that easy because there is more room to make it caricaturist, but he stopped short of that buffonnery. His foils in the bike and interaction with Deepti Naval is a laug-riot. The manner in which he escapes down the pipe of the building when Miss.Chamko comes home for a demo or the way he tries to start his bike, putting his whole weight on the ‘kick-start’ lever but being unable to start the vehicle, all so funny. He made us laugh so easily without looking or acting stupid. His comic timing was a gift.

Although both the movies had fabulous stars like Nasseerruddin Shah, Om Puri, Satish Shah, Pankaj Kapoor, Rakesh Bedi and many more, Ravi held his own. He wasn’t overshadowed by the other performances, in fact his performance became much better.

The last I recall his presence onscreen was in Laadla where he played the factory worker alongside Anil Kapoor. In all the scenes, he was seen mouthing famous tag-lines from ads; be it ye araam ka mamla hai, apan ka choice ka mamla hai or the pepsi tag yehi hai right choice baby during the factory elections; he mouthed them all with such aplomb.

Of course, there was an odd KHKN and Bunty Aur Babli, but nothing substantial to speak of. In his last interview he did say that he was planning to direct a movie, but that shall not happen now. His last wish to direct, to be behind the camera, will sadly go unfulfilled.

To me it seems as if Ravi did his best work in the very beginning of his career. JBDY and Chashme Buddoor will be counted amongst the most  entertaining movies and that speaks a lot for the characters involved with it. And Sudhir, as an idealist, will be remembered for a long long time. So, will Ravi Baswani. Everytime someone laughs while watching his movies, it will be a homage to the comic talent of this man. May his soul rest in peace.

This post was first published on PFC

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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in bollywood, movies, personal


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Amole Gupte – Then And Now

amole_gupte_thenThe 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 Bharadwajs 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
Jee Zindagi

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.

amole_gupte_nowHe 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!


Posted by on July 22, 2009 in bollywood, movies


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