Marathi star and television actor Sai Deodhar began her career with late actor Vikram Gokhale in the National Award winning Marathi cult film Lapandav (1993). The film marked her mother Shrabani Deodhar’s directorial debut and it had Gokhale playing the protagonist. A few years later, the Saara Akaash actor collaborated with Gokhale again on a Marathi play. But the relationship shared by the Deodhars and the Gokhales go a long way, beyond celluloid.
As Gokhale breathed his last today at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Centre in Pune due to multi-organ failure, Deodhar spoke exclusively to News18. Walking down the memory lane, she gave us a sneak peek into the humble and ordinary life Gokhale lived despite being an actor par excellence and Marathi cinema’s icon.
There were two projects I worked with him on. One of them was Lapandav, where I played his daughter. At that time, I was in the third of fourth standard. And then, when I was in the eleventh grade, I did a Marathi play with him called Mogra Phulaalaa. Growing up, Vikram kaka would come home very often because he was a very close friend of both my parents. He starred in a film called Thodasa Roomani Ho Jayen (1990) where my father (Debu Deodhar) was the DoP and my mother was the chief assistant director. So, our association goes back a long way… maybe since I was born.
The way Vikram kaka would understand a character… he was an institution in himself. He had a certain ease when he would deliver his lines, be on sets and get under the skin of his characters. One would feel that he isn’t probably even doing anything, but the minute the camera would roll, he was magic! People were mesmerised by his presence and if you would look at him performing, you wouldn’t look anywhere else because he had that kind of an intensity. He was one of the finest actors we’ve had. He excelled in every medium, be it stage, films or serials.
It was very overwhelming to see an actor of his calibre performing with so much ease. You often see actors making a hue and cry about getting into a role but he used to joke around all the time and have fun. He was very hard working too. He would do all these things simultaneously and I used to joke and tell him, ‘Vikram kaka, how do you manage to do so much?’ He was into business as well.
He once took us to his farmhouse, which was beautiful. When I did the play with him, we travelled all over Maharashtra for the shows and he used to pamper me silly. He saw me growing up. His daughter Neha was in school with me… she was one year senior to me. I was like his daughter. We would go to different places and he used to call for food and make sure that I eat my meals. It was so much fun hanging out with him! He used to come over and take me to his house.
He was a people’s person. I never saw him cringe, get upset or annoyed after his shows. Marathi plays are quite long but he would finish them and meet people, who had come to interact with him, with the same gusto. That wasn’t easy. But it taught me a lot. In my growing up years, I saw what professionalism is, what being committed to your craft means and what being a good human being is. He was loved a lot. Very rarely do we see somebody who’s so immensely loved by everyone.
It was lovely to see mom, dad and him bond, laugh over things and discuss cinema. For me, it was a wholesome experience being around him. In the last few years, we kept meeting and would keep bumping into each other. There were times when mom would call him and she would pass on the phone to me. We would chat and he would ask about my husband (actor Shakti Arora).
Vikram kaka has acted with my husband as well. They did a show called Sambhav Asambhav, where Shakti played his son. He shared a different rapport with all of us. So, Shakti also has very fond memories of working with him. He was two or three shows old and he was awed and inspired by Vikram kaka. It was a tremendous learning experience for him too.
Over the last few days, we were remembering all these beautiful memories we shared with him. And these memories go back to my parents. I’ve heard stories about him from them. Lapandav was one of the pioneer films of Marathi cinema. To this day, people talk about it. The character he essayed was outstanding and references of the role are made even today. There won’t be another Vikram Gokhale.
He used to love to eat. So, we would discuss a lot of food. I know the family very closely. It’s such a big loss. Actors like him aren’t made every day. It’s rare to find such fine actors. He was truly a gem.
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