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Tea vendor sips Bollywood in dreams after Delhi-6 role

Tea vendors — or chaiwalas,to put it in the Indian context — are the flavour of the season. After Jamal Sheikh graduated from serving tea to BPO employees to winning Rs 2 crore through three hours and a quiz show...

Written by Neeraj Chauhan | New Delhi |
February 25, 2009 11:45:09 pm

Tea vendors — or chaiwalas,to put it in the Indian context — are the flavour of the season. After Jamal Sheikh graduated from serving tea to BPO employees to winning Rs 2 crore through three hours and a quiz show — Slumdog Millionaire,of course — it’s the turn of another chaiwala,in the Capital,to dream big.

And dreaming big is what Mohit Gupta does these days. Having played bit parts in three films,the latest being a restaurant owner in Rakeysh Mehra’s Delhi-6,Gupta wants to spread his wings in the big,busy world of Bollywood. Before Delhi-6,Gupta also acted bit parts in Ajay Devgan’s Sunday (released in January 2008) and the recent Abhay Deol-starrer Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

In Delhi-6,Gupta,23,enacts a restaurant (Karim’s) owner. His screen presence might have been all of five minutes but Gupta takes it seriously. Describing the shot,with hand movements going like a pro,he says,“After closing my restaurant at night,I am walking back home; suddenly I see this strange creature called ‘kala bandar’. I try to catch him (but in vain).

“In the next shot,I am interviewed by a news channel reporter — overall it was fun.”

The ‘kala bandar’ in question refers to the black monkey that surfaced in Old Delhi around five years ago — the creature apparently attacked people.

But films aside,Gupta says he also regularly acts in theatres,including a few National School of Drama (NSD) productions. He earns his living running an MCD kiosk on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg,or the ‘press area’ to be more precise — alternatively serving tea and rehearsing his scripts.

His family has been running the tea and snacks stall for the last 47 years. So what brought him to acting? Gupta’s answer is simple: a religious film-goer,he thought if “these people” (read actors in Bollywood flicks) can act,why not him? While going by the level of acting in most films that could be a well-directed cryptic comment,Gupta means it with all earnestness.

The first real opportunity,he says,appeared when he met Baldev Dogra,a theatre and part-time film actor. “He asked me to join theatre; some theatre artists who come to my stall for tea regularly also helped a lot.”

His first 70-mm shot came around a year-and-a-half back,when Baldev Dogra asked him to play a bouncer in Sunday. In Oye Lucky,he portrayed a Sikh victim of the super-thief Lucky. Up next? The Saif Ali Khan-starrer Do Duni Char,in which he expects to share screen space with the lead star for the first time. Gupta shoots for the film from February 24-28.

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