Ragesh Asthana: Can’t curb the enthusiasm.
Posted by barkha on August 16, 2011 | 6 Comment
For those of us who have grown up watching the good old Doorshan, fondly remember him as Appu Swami from the cult hit campus story “Subah”. From becoming an over night star to being out of work, Ragesh shares with us the highs and lows of his journey and what kept him going. And like they say you can’t keep a good horse down. Watch out for him in Ram Gopal Verma’s much awaited Shabri as Shadrul Seth.
You made your acting debut in 1987 with a popular Television Show “Subah”. Tell our readers about your journey as an actor and the challenges you faced?
Yes, i debuted as an actor in 1987 in the serial SUBAH directed by the Late Shri Bharat Rungachary.
Grabbing the role of Appu Swami in Subah wasn’t so easy. I had already auditioned for Prem (the role played by Kumar Bhatia) and was rejected for the same. The day i found out that i wasn’t selected i called up Bharat ji and requested him to audition me for the next best role available. He liked my confidence and called me the next day, well much to my surprise i found 35 more actors lined up for the role of Appu Swami.
The Chief Asst Director ‘s friend Jolly was the top contender for the role.
Anyway, Bharat ji asked me to say the lines of Prem all over again, I in turn requested if i could enact a Soliloquy from one of my Plays (The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams) He agreed.
Well after i had done the act, Bharat ji went into this deep thought and then suddenly looked up and addressed Manoj Agarwal his assistant what do u think he asked .. Jolly your friend or Ragesh .. Manoj Smiled and uttered my Name .. well that was it..
Subah was a cult hit, creating waves all over India. We all became overnight stars.
After Subah i was being offered similar roles to the character i played in SUBAH , i refused all of them and waited for a nice meaty role to come my way .. well nothing like that happened But i did interesting parts in episodic stories like Discovery of India by Syham Benegal and Adhikar by Manju Sinha..
It was a long struggle till Parivartan Happened. It was Bharat Rungachary again who cast me as the rebellious Nikhil Singhani in Parivartan in 1993. It was a UTV production, weekly soap,telecast on ZEE. The show was a mega hit but somehow it did not translate to getting the kind of roles i wanted.
I struggled my way through and grabbed some meaty Roles in Andaaz by Himesh Reshammiya, Shatranj produced by Raman Kumar and directed by Rakesh Sarang, Marshall, Waqt ki raftaar,and Khamoshi By Gautam Adhikari.
Shabri is Ram Gopal Verma’s much awaited film. Tell us about your character “Shadrul Seth”?
Shabri was complete and has been awaiting release for a good 4 years now.. well better late than never …
In Shabri i play Shardul Seth, a Mafia Don who once upon a time was dreaded and ruled his area in Mumbai. Now retired and waiting for an opportunity to get back his Lost Glory, he tries to Help Shabri the Protagonist get her revenge against the evil doings of the present DON played by Pradeep Rawat and in the bargain he double crosses Shabri too.
Lalit Marathe, the director of the film, auditioned me twice for the role and loved my enthusiasm and zeal. He had a condition that i apply the Henna on my hair, the typical Henna you would see on Muslim men that age, in areas like Bhendi Bazaar and Mohamed Ali Road. I agreed on the same and got that Henna applied by a professional salon headed by Maya Dewan. For at least one month i was all over the city with Henna on my hair.
How was your experience working with Ram Gopal Verma?
During the making of Shabri ,I did not get to meet Mr.Ram Gopal Varma at all, because he being the Producer of the film would hardly came on the sets.
Lalit Marathe, the director is a very efficient and knows his job to the hilt. He being a writer too knew what he wanted out of his actors and communicated with each actor accordingly.
As a producer I must say that Ramu ji is a King and treats his actors very well.
I did get to work with Ramu ji much later when i grabbed the role of the Jailer that helps Surya escape jail to kill his staunch enemy, Vivek Oberoi in Rakt Charitra – 2.
He is a great director to work with and gives a lot of freedom to his actors and room for them to improvise.
I am looking forward to doing much more work with him.
You have a very successful Casting/ talent agency? How did you venture into this aspect of film business?
The year was 1997, was a turning point in my acting career , 5 of my Serials that were on Air were pulled off AIR, for reasons best known to the Channels and the Production Houses. From this period onwards i was out of work for nearly 6 months. A lot of competition had crept in, with so many new actors coming in and so many new channels starting , actors became available at dirt cheap rates and they would agree to work for peanuts. I was not getting the right kind of roles or the money
I had to survive and then i was offered to cast for an International Film i grabbed the opportunity.
From here onwards for the next 10 years began my new journey. I have been casting for many a renowned international films and international commercials to be shot in INDIA..
I have recently launched my own casting company ExAct.