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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Mahabharat actor Pankaj Dheer: I played Karna with massive restraint

Mahabharat actor Pankaj Dheer says he continues to be loved for the role he played decades ago.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai |
Updated: May 28, 2020 8:40:28 am
Pankal Dheer, Mahabharat Mahabharat is currently airing on Colors. (Photo: Pankaj Dheer/Instagram)

After a successful comeback on Doordarshan, Mahabharat is currently re-airing on Colors. The BR Chopra magnum opus originally aired in 1988. However, the show still continues to find an audience.

Pankaj Dheer, who played the role of Karna, credits the writing of Mahabharat for the same.

“When it comes to the show Mahabharat, it was an assembly of great minds. We had great writers like Pandit Narendra Sharma collaborating with Rahi Masoom Reza backed by BR Chopra and Ravi Chopra. Also, the casting was amazing. It was very peculiar. You cannot think of another Shakuni or Bheeshma or Krishna or Duryodhan,” the actor said.

Sharing his experience of getting into the skin of his character Karna, Pankaj Dheer said, “We did not have any reference for Karna. There was just one film that was made on Mahabharat, which was a two-hour film in which a very inconsequential actor played Karna. So, how would Karna walk, talk or sit, was something we did not know. How would he deal with a situation? So, all these things were discovered by me as an actor using my intellect. Not to forget that I had two very dramatic characters next to me which were Duryodhan and Shakuni. Between them, if I would be melodramatic, it would be odd. So, I had to underplay the role of Karna.”

He added, “I played it with massive restraint which worked for me. People loved me for it. That created sympathy. Also, there were so many actors in the cast, whenever you got a scene or a moment, you had to make it count. There was a healthy competition on the set of Mahabharat. Also, everything was against us. We did not have digital cameras. There were no special effects or graphics. There was no modern equipment, which is required to make a project beautiful and massive like Baahubali. So, without all that, with a very normal video camera, we shot on a trial and error method. That speaks volumes of all that went into making the Mahabharat.”

Stating that he continues to be loved for the role he played decades ago, Pankaj Dheer revealed that there are two temples built for him in India – one in Karnal and the other in Bastar. He shared that his fans worship him as Karna till date. “People have loved me and adored me over the years. Even in history books used in schools, if they have a reference to Karna, they use my picture there. I have also been to the temples built for me. There is an eight-feet tall statue of mine, and people come there and worship it. Whenever I visit it, people reach out to me with so much love. This goes to show that they have accepted me as Karna.”

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Mahabharat tour-London

A post shared by Pankaj Dheer (@pankajdheer999) on

Dheer added that he was offered roles in other versions of Mahabharat, but chose to refuse it. “I have also been offered roles in other versions of Mahabharat, but I refused it. I have played Karna, and that is it for me. It is not about money. I can make money otherwise. But I don’t want to confuse my fans. It won’t be justice to their love,” shared the 63-year-old actor.

When asked to share an anecdote from his shooting days, Pankaj Dheer said, “It’s interesting to know how Samay’s (Harish Bhimani) character was created. It was Dr Rahi Masoom Raza who took the call. At first, everyone was considering a lot of other actors as the narrator, but the makers could not decide on whether to have a narrator in the physical form. That was when Rahi saab came up with the idea of samay (time) as the narrator. That became the trump card. These were simple but truly great ideas. It was a brilliant move to have an interesting voice play the role of time.”

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