By Priyanka Bhadani
Filmmaker, actor Satish Kaushik, who plays the central character of Nawab Jung Bahadur, in the recently-launched ‘The Great Indian Family Drama’ on Sab TV, talks about the television medium and his role in it.
What is The Great Indian Family Drama (TGIFD) all about?
TGIFD is a comedy show about a family comprising Nawab Jung Bahadur and his wife, Begum Paro (played by Archana Puran Singh). Besides Navneet Nishan, it also has many other interesting characters.
How did the show come about?
It was during a chat that Anooj (Kapoor, Channel head, Sab TV) hinted at the role. I quite liked the idea of playing a Nawab. Later, when the concept of the show and the full character sketch was narrated to me, I thought it would be interesting to play the central character with a Lucknowi adab.
Are you excited about doing television?
I’m doing television after a long, long time. It’s been more than a decade and half that I did Philips Top 10 (a record chart show that aired on Zee TV) along with Pankaj Kapur. It was a major hit and in terms of humour, it was iconic. Again, the humour in TGIFD is really palpable, and the fact that we will be performing in front of a live audience is exciting in itself.
Is it somewhere along the lines of Comedy Nights With Kapil?
TGIFD won’t have celeb interviews, etc. The only similarity would be that it has the presence of a live audience who would have an instant reaction to the act that we put up. Other than that, it’s very character-oriented.
You said you liked the Lucknowi adab in the character. Do you remember doing anything similar earlier?
I am doing a full-fledged character of a Nawab for the first time. However, when I came to Mumbai in 1979, my first play at Prithvi Theatre, Bichoo directed by Ranjit Kapoor, saw me as Nawab Panne Miyan. The play had a stellar cast comprising Om Puri, Rohini Hattangadi, Ratna Pathak and Karan Razdan. I got the role because one of the actors was absent and Kapoor thought that since I had seen the play earlier, I could play the part. It’s interesting to speak the ‘delicious’ language once again.
Did you stay away from TV deliberately for so long?
I got busy with film production and direction. Because of that, people also assumed that I wouldn’t be interested in acting and very few roles came my way. But I keep insisting that I am always available for acting. After all, I have studied acting at the National School of Drama.
But why comeback on TV with a comic role when you could have done something more intense like what you did in Lakshmi?
This character of the Nawab is interesting. It isn’t a show that would poke fun at someone. It is just for laughs and I like doing such characters. In fact, it is the simplistic humour that has made my comic characters like Calendar (Mr India), Pappu Pager (Deewana Mastana) and Airport (Swarg) become so popular. But then it is the characters like Sr Reddy in Lakshmi, or Chanu Ahmed in Brick Lane, or Om in Road, Movie that defines the real Satish Kaushik. I wish I could have got more opportunities like that. That’s also one of the reasons for me to have kept low as an actor. I would act more if I am challenged as an actor.
TGIFD has been produced by a well-known TV production company. Didn’t you think about producing it as a lot of film-makers are working in television these days?
I am on it. This was a role offered to me which I took up, but otherwise I would love to produce shows for TV. Anil Kapoor’s 24 has opened up options for film-makers to explore television in shorter formats. Ashutosh Gowariker’s Everest and Vipul Shah’s Pukaar are all amazing. When I see shows like Mahakumbh that has been made on a large scale, I feel TV shows are now being approached like cinema, which is really good. Long back, I had produced shows like O Maria (Sony Entertainment Television) and Mujhe Chand Chahiye (Zee TV), which were made like films. I would like to do a limited-edition series, something that is very dramatic. In fact, I have the rights of a book which I want to adapt into a TV series.
Can you give more details about the book?
It’s an Indian emotional-thriller, written superbly. I have pitched it to a channel. But these things take time.