Anang Desai can be easily called the universal ‘Babuji’. The adorable patriarch of one of Indian television’s most favourite sitcoms – Khichdi is elated that his Parekh family is set for a grand return after about 8 years to tickle the funny bones with its upcoming new season. So, we’ll have all the elders with their idiosyncrasies and funny banter along with two kids of the house who claim to be the smartest of the lot. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Anang Desai reveals what all awaits viewers in the new season.
“While doing other projects, the members of the Parekh family were missing their respective roles too because these are the roles which are very close to our hearts. All these years I was missing my character too. Secondly, wherever we went, people told us – ‘when is it coming back… why did it stop…’ So, we kept telling Aatish (Kapadia) and JD (Majethia), that let’s bring it back. Finally, a creative call was taken and here we are. So, all of us are very glad that the show is coming back,” he shared.
Khichdi debuted on TV in 2002 and in the next two years won hearts and acquired a cult status. Also starring actors Rajeev Mehta, Supriya Pathak, Vandana Pathak and the producer himself, JD Majethia, the show traces the daily life of a Gujarati family, their regular challenges and the unique ways with which it solves every issue.
“It is not kind of a slapstick or buffoonery in that space. The characters are very distinct and grounded. In spite of their craziness you can identify with them. They have created a world of their own. Also, the way Aatish (Kapadia) has written these characters and the whole of Khichdi, that is the USP. The brilliant content is the USP. That is why it has become a cult show and a brand,” said Khichdi’s Babuji.
Khichdi is one of the earliest TV shows which returned as seasons. Its second season aired between 2005 and 2006 under the title, Instant Khichdi. Infact, there was even a film made in 2010 which became the first Hindi movie to be based on a TV show.
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Desai told us how it was reuniting on the sets with all the actors. He said, “It was wonderful meeting again. We are so happy. It’s all fun and there will be more magic this season. Our chemistry has always worked and this shows in our product.”
Another show from the same banner, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai made its comeback last year but couldn’t connect well with the audience. Speaking on whether he has any concerns about Khichdi striking a chord again after so many years, Desai said, “Anxiety is surely there because when it is a benchmark serial, obviously there are a lot of expectations with its new season. Surely people are expecting good results from us, but we are very hopeful not to disappoint our viewers.”
And what about handling the competition, now that the small screen is loaded with sitcoms and comedy shows? “We have really worked hard, especially Aatish as a writer-director. Khichdi became very popular and a brand then, so we wish the new season will be accepted too. The response we have got from the promos is very positive,” he said.
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Taking us back in time, when Khichdi was offered to him, Desai shared why he was ‘awestruck’. “When Aatish narrated the script to me and the way he had conceived the characters, I was absolutely awestruck. These are very unusual characters. I’m also portraying a very unusual character. I consider it a landmark in my career because you don’t get to portray such characters always.”
Apart from television, Desai has also done films like Rustom, Salaam-e-Ishq, Baghban, Tere Naam, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum and Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai among others, all with varied roles, sometimes even with grey shades. But he agrees that it was comedy that was liked by fans. “I have played varied roles, but I think Babuji is my most important one. When Khichdi was first offered to me, I was only doing serious roles which were positive or negative. So, credit goes to Aatish and JD for casting me in a role where they were confident I’ll pull off comedy,” he shared.
An alumnus of the National School of Drama, Desai also feels having a theatre background is very important for any aspiring actor. “Theatre has been very helpful for me. I personally feel anyone who wants to do films or TV should have some experience or training of theatre. And in Khichdi our (co-actors) chemistry is working because all of us are from theatre background.”
In his final words during the interview, he assured, “There’s a lot more fun and craziness. You’ll all enjoy watching Khichdi. And Babuji-Praful’s Tom and Jerry or Laurel and Hardy will be funnier than before.”
“We will not disappoint!”, he signs off.
The new Khichdi will premiere on Star Plus on April 14, and air every weekend at 8pm.