Born into acting as it were, he was a man of the movies, both Marathi and Hindi, and also theatre and television. Vikram Gokhale, the character actor seen in films such as “Agneepath” and “Natsamrat”, adapted to changing times as effortlessly as he slipped into diverse roles to make his mark in varied platforms. Gokhale, who died at a Pune hospital on Saturday, was 77.
He was the consummate actor, who was last seen in the 2021 Marathi movie “Godavari” and won the National Award for best actor for his portrayal of a man watching helplessly as his wife slips into a coma in “Anumati”.
Born on November 14, 1945, Gokhale was a third generation artiste. His father was veteran actor Chandrakant Gokhale, a leading star and singer of Marathi cinema.
His grandmother was Kamlabhai Gokhale, Indian film industry’s first female child actor.
Besides his acting career, Gokhale grabbed attention last year when he came out in support of actor Kangana Ranaut, who courted huge controversy over her claim that India attained freedom in 2014 and what it got in 1947 was “alms”. He also batted for the reunion between Maharashtra’s two political parties — BJP and Shiv Sena — after they had a falling out over the chief minister seat following the 2019 state elections.
As he oscillated between different worlds, Gokhale, who is survived by his wife and two daughters, struck a chord with his stoic dialogue delivery and expressive eyes. Amitabh Bachchan had a special part to play in the almost 50-year career.
Gokhale, who spent his early days as an actor with Marathi theatre, featuring in several plays, made his film debut with the Bachchan-starrer “Parwana” in 1971. Nineteen years later, came the 1990 action-drama “Agneepath”, also headlined by Bachchan. In the movie, Gokhale played M S Gaitonde, the upright commissioner of police, among his most notable roles.
He went on to collaborate with Bachchan on more films, including “Khuda Gawah” (1992) and “AB Aani CD” (2020).
The actor was often seen playing men in the position of authority, be it in “Agneepath”, “Bhool Bhulaiyaa” (2007), “Natsamrat” (2015), “Aiyaary”, and “Mission Mangal” (2019).
In 1999, the veteran actor featured in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”, in which he gave a riveting performance as Pundit Darbar, a doyen of classical music who takes Salman Khan’s Sameer under his tutelage.
He continued featuring in Hindi movies such as “Champion”, “Tum Bin”, “Lucky: No Time for Love”, “Main Aisa Hi Hoon” and “Bhool Bhulaiyaa”.
Gokhale turned to direction with the 2010 Marathi movie “Aaghaat”, in which he also starred. The movie took a look at the bureaucratic structure in big private hospitals and the approach of the administration towards patients and their families.
Three years later, he starred in “Anumati”, which won him his National Award.
In 2015, Gokhale featured in the critically acclaimed “Natsamrat”, considered a pioneering movie to come out of Marathi cinema.
Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, the film explored the friendship between Nana Patekar’s Ganpat and Gokhale’s Rambhau. As two contemporaries of theatre, the duo delved upon the nature of life and its challenges.
While the film centred around Patekar’s character, Gokhale as Rambhau was equally compelling, especially with the sequence on his deathbed when his character recites lines from the Mahabharata.
His career in television spanned the decades too. Among his TV shows is the still remembered “Udaan”, which ran on Doordarshan from 1989 to 1990. His small screen credits include “Alpviram”, “Sanjivani”, “Virrudh”, “Jeevan Saathi” and “Mera Naam Karegi Roshan”.
In 2020, he was seen in SonyLIV series “Avrodh: The Siege Within”. The actor had announced his retirement from stage performances in 2016 owing to a throat ailment but continued working in films.