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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

When a screen test for Tere Mere Sapne landed Chandrachur Singh the lead role in Gulzar’s Maachis

Chandrachur Singh's Maachis is completing 25 years on October 25. The 1996 film was directed by Gulzar and also starred Tabu and Jimmy Sheirgill.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 26, 2021 9:01:17 am
maachis film chandrachur singh tabuMaachis was directed by Gulzar. (Photo: Express Archives)

Actor Chandrachur Singh’s character Tej Sareen in Emmy nominated web show Aarya hums songs to his onscreen wife Sushmita Sen. In fact the trait was incorporated in Tej’s personality because Chandrachur is a singer in real life too. The actor, who impressed with his layered portrayal in just one episode of his special appearance, auditioned for his acting comeback over WhatsApp.

Aarya happened after Chandrachur remained absent from the scene for several years. Chandrachur was a name to reckon with in the late 1990s with films like Betaabi, Dil Kya Kare, Silsila Hai Pyar Ka, Josh, Daag: The Fire and more. While many would believe Chandrachur’s breakout happened right from the word go when he had two simultaneous releases in 1996, Maachis and Tere Mere Sapne, the success came to him after nearly five years of struggle. Infact, Maachis is completing 25 years of release on October 25.

Directed by Gulzar, and also starring Tabu, Jimmy Sheirgill, Om Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raj Zutshi and other, Maachis was a sensitive political drama that revolved around the Sikh insurgency in Punjab in the 1980s, and how politicians manipulate youth to get their ulterior motives fulfilled.

“I was in St Stephen’s, all set to appear for my UPSC exams, wanting to become an IAS or IFS officer. Offers came to me, and as much as I wanted to be successful, I think I also had the hunger to be known as an actor worth his salt,” Chandrachur previously told indianexpress.com.

Chandrachur came to Mumbai around 1988 and his first film went on floors in 1990. “We shot around 60-80 percent of the film, and then it was shelved. And then there were many near-misses over the next five-six years, before I landed Maachis and Tere Mere Sapne,” Chandrachur added.

According to Chandrachur, it was also the time when he doubted his career choice as he enjoyed teaching more. “I taught music in Vasant Valley, Delhi, and then went on to teach History at The Doon School in Dehradun, which happens to be my former school. So I thought in case (acting) didn’t work out, I got myself a permanent job as a teacher in Doon school.”

But opportunity came knocking from Jaya Bachchan who called him for a screen test where he got approved for Tere Mere Sapne. Gulzar saw the audition tape of Tere Mere Sapne and picked Chandrachur as his Kirpal Singh Pali in Maachis.

“I had gone to his office with a stubble. I had no idea that he was looking for someone with a stubble. He asked me if I had work to show, and I told him that I’d done a screen test for Mrs Bachchan. He called her up because they were really close, having worked in films like Parichay and more. He asked for my screen test, saw it and approved. By the time I reached home, I was told that I had been cast in Maachis. It was a very pleasant surprise, that it all happened so smoothly. Apparently, he waited really long to cast the character of Kirpal,” Chandrachur told us.

chandrachur singh arshad warsi films tere mere sapne Tere Mere Sapne (1996) marked the Bollywood debut of Chandrachur Singh and Arshad Warsi.

But Chandrachur claims things fell out of place post 1997 when many films either failed to take off or never saw light of the day. “There were many films whose promos and songs had come out, but the films never released in the theaters. There was this movie I did with Shilpa Shetty called Junoon, and there was another one with Sonali Kulkarni. There was one with Sanjay Dutt and Shamita Shetty called Mohabbat Ho Gayi Hai Tumse, and there were other big projects that I don’t want to revisit. It’s just a case of many slips between the cup and the lip.”

Chandrachur appeared in Zila Ghaziabad (2013) after his good friend Arshad Warsi recommended him. Chandrachur reveals he’s just a phone call away from his co-star from Tere Mere Sapne and Betaabi. Chandrachur was also seen in The Reluctant Fundamentalist in the same year. “I was supposed to work with Mira Nair in a film in the 2000s. She was making Buddha. However, that didn’t work out. When she approached me for this role through her casting directors, I said why not!”

Now that Chandrachur Singh has impressed with his short yet impactful performance in Aarya, here’s hoping to see more of him onscreen.

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