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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Krishna Janmashtami: How Nitish Bharadwaj was cast as Lord Krishna despite his refusal to play the role

On Krishna Janmashtami today, here's recounting the series of events that led to actor Nitish Bharadwaj being cast as Lord Krishna in BR Chopra's Mahabharat despite his reluctance.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
August 30, 2021 11:15:01 am
krishna janmashtami nitish bharadwaj mahabharatNitish Bharadwaj played Lord Krishna in Mahabharat for two years. (Photo: DD National)

For many, Lord Krishna brings to mind the face of Nitish Bharadwaj. The veteran actor who played Krishna in BR Chopra’s iconic television show Mahabharat, had, however, refused to play the role when it was first offered to him. On Krishna Janmashtami today, here’s revisiting the episode from making of the iconic TV show.

Bharadwaj was initially cast as Vidur, but got replaced and a lot transpired after that. “I was first cast as Vidur and called to the Seth studios for the shooting. When I was in the makeup room, Virendra Razdan came up in costume and said he was playing Vidur. I said, ‘How can you play Vidur? They have called me for the shoot’. I went inside to meet Ravi ji (Ravi Chopra). He told me, ‘You are hardly 23-24. After a few episodes, Vidur is going to be an old man. It won’t look appropriate’. After that, I was jobless as far as Mahabharat was concerned,” the actor had said in 2020 when Mahabharat was being screened again during the pandemic.

Bharadwaj was approached by BR Chopra yet again, this time to play Nakul and Sahdev. But the artiste wanted to do Abhimanyu. “I knew Mahabharat story and wanted to do something better. Before pack-up, he asked me what I really wanted to do. I told him that I wanted to play Abhimanyu.” BR Chopra assured that his team would think over Bharadwaj’s desire.

Nitish Bharadwaj was ultimately offered the lead role of Lord Krishna. This was when he was shooting for his second Marathi feature film in Kolhapur and was away on a outdoor shoot for many days. “In those days, we would get messages only via landlines when we used to come back to the hotel.” He shared that his mother informed him how Gufi Paintal was trying to reach out to him. “They wanted to screen test me for Krishna.”

mahabharat stills doordarshan Mahabharat aired on Doordarshan between 1988-1990 and emerged as one of the channel’s flagship shows. (Photo: DD National)

Gufi Paintal, who was the casting incharge, also played Shakuni. “I told my mother to say no as I felt I couldn’t do it. She used her wisdom and told Gufi that I was shooting in Kolhapur and she would be able to inform me about his offer only when I return,” Bharadwaj added.

The actor did not reach out to BR Chopra upon his return, instead he moved on to his next project. But destiny has its way, he bumped into Chopra later and who confronted him with avoiding his offer. “I told him ‘You need a more experienced person, how can you have a new person playing the mahanayak (Krishna)’.”

Upon BR Chopra’s persuasion to “at least appear for the screen test” Bharadwaj went ahead, and ended up playing Lord Krishna for two years. Mahabharat aired on Doordarshan between 1988-1990 and emerged as one of the channel’s flagship shows.

Rest, as they say, is history!

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