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Friday, May 07, 2021

Anang Desai decodes Khichdi’s success: ‘Even if the show was about idiosyncrasies of a dysfunctional family, it had a logic’

Anang Desai, popularly remembered for playing Tulsidas Parekh aka Babuji in Khichdi, revisited the hit TV show, how he landed the role and why it continues to click with the audience.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
May 4, 2021 10:53:02 am
khichdi babujiKhichdi premiered on Indian television in 2002.

Anang Desai has done work across mediums in his 40-year-long acting career. But the veteran actor believes his fan favourite character of Tulsidas Parekh aka Babuji in television series Khichdi is his landmark role.

“When I began my journey on television, I got mostly positive roles. Then there was a phase when I did loads of negative roles. Then Khichdi happened and I received a lot of love. Post that I started getting comedy roles. Today, I’m known more in comic genre. Though I’m glad I got to do varied roles on television, but Khichdi gave me a new identity,” Desai exclusively told indianexpress.com.

The actor, who celebrates his birthday today, revisited how he landed the blockbuster TV show. He shared, “I was already doing television, mostly serious roles. One day, the show’s writer-director Aatish Kapadia and producer JD Majethia called me to offer Khichdi. They wanted me to hear the script of the first episode and then take a call. They were adamant that I do this role.

“Aatish’s narration is brilliant. It was so good, I was floored with its unusual concept. We hadn’t seen such kind of a show ever. Even if it was about the idiosyncrasies of a dysfunctional family, it had a logic. I instantly agreed. Khichdi became a blockbuster, a brand. You don’t get to do such roles often,” he added.

khichdi tv show Khichdi also starred Rajeev Mehta, Supriya Pathak, Vandana Pathak and others. (Photo: Hotstar)

The USP of Khichdi is the comic timing of its characters and the dialogues. Desai revealed that the entire cast spoke in the rhythm of Aatish Kapadia’s writing.

“The writing of Aatish is very specific. He visualises the character very distinctly and definitely. The humour comes from the way his lines are written. We didn’t tamper with it much. The fun is when characters speak in that rhythm. So, every actor tried to improve the performance, but obviously in consultation with the director,” Desai said.

“Initially, all we wanted was to make a good product. We didn’t think about its popularity then,” the actor added.

Khichdi first premiered on television in 2002 and aired two seasons – Khichdi and Instant Khichdi (2005). It had a third run in 2018 titled Khichdi Returns. In the meantime, Khichdi: The Movie (2010) was also made, that became the first film in Hindi cinema to be based on a TV show.

Commenting on how many felt the film wasn’t at par with the TV show, Desai opined, “The popularity of the TV show was the reason why we got the idea of making the film. Of course we cannot compare with the collections of films with big stars. Overall, the film did decently well. Even today when it is telecast, people watch it happily.”

So, how does he compare the humour of today with that of Khichdi, or similar sitcoms back then? “Till the time it has good characters and script, it’s good. But, even comedy should have a timing and flavour, just like the identity of any show. Comedy doesn’t only mean making faces.”

Commenting on the change he sees in the entertainment industry as compared to the early 2000s, Desai shared, “There’s been a great technical advancement, be it any medium. People are reaping opportunities from digitalisation. The professionalism has also improved.”

But Desai also has his preferences when it is about taking up an OTT project. “It’s a good opportunity and I’m open to doing it. But, I won’t do anything in foul language or nudity. I’m very specific about it,” he said.

As an advice to the aspiring actors, he pointed out, “There might be new opportunities, but there is uncertainty of work in the entertainment industry. So, have the strength to handle any bleak period of life. It’s good to pay attention to looks and body, but a training in acting is better any day. Nobody has the time to train you on set. Also understanding of the language in which you plan to perform is important.”

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