June 25, 2021 8:13:04 am
Veteran actor Raghubir Yadav’s Bhura was in the news recently as Lagaan completed 20 years. The actor played a poultry farmer in the Aamir Khan-starrer who had enviable fielding skills. Given Raghubir Yadav’s filmography, his career is full of such characters that have aged well over the decades. Those growing up in India during the 90s will remember one such character with fondness — the day-dreamer Mungerilal from the TV show Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne.
As Yadav turns 64 today, we speak to him about Mungerilal, and how he came onboard as the lead of the Prakash Jha directed show, which was reportedly inspired by James Thurber’s story Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
“Prakash Jha knew me. We had met when I was doing theatre in Delhi. And I had already done Massey Sahib by then. He thought I was the best candidate to play Mungerilal. Even I liked the character after I read the script,” Yadav reminisced about getting cast.
Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne revolved around a middle-class clerk, who gets bossed around at his workplace, and at home. His father-in-law diminishes his stature further by exaggerating his achievements as a successful cop. As a means to escape this daily nagging, he resorts to daydreaming where he takes revenge from his boss and father-in-law. In his dreams, he also dates his colleague, but his wife invariably ruined his dreams by waking him up.
“Mungerilal was a character picked from our real life. He depicted the struggles of a common man. Despite being qualified, if you don’t end up getting the right job or achieving your dreams, you end up imagining things in your mind, just like him. Most of us live in our own dreams even today,” Yadav said, explaining why Mungerilal will connect with the masses even after three decades.
Yadav also revealed how Mungerilal’s look, especially his one eye flicker was added to the character. While the Charlie Chaplin moustache was director Prakash Jha’s input, “I picked the movement of Mungerilal’s eye from our scriptwriter Manohar Shyam Joshi, who did that while speaking. Joshi had told me ‘Mungerilal ka ek ang phadakne lagta hai (Mungerilal’s one body part starts to tremble)’ when he goes into his dreams. I said why not copy Joshi only and do that with my eye. That’s how this character was created.”
Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne debuted on Doordarshan in 1989 and ran for 13 episodes, which was shot over a span of 3-4 months. Yadav opined that given the current business making trend on the small screen, recreating a show like this can be tad difficult, unless one puts the same heart and soul into it.
According to him, “Those times were different. Today, with so many channels coming in, it’s more like they are running a factory. If you see it as a money making commodity, you’ll invest in it to generate profit. If you put the same amount of talent and hardwork in a project like Mungerilal, I’m sure it’ll work even today. But if they continue churning out shows like a factory, it’ll go on the lines of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.”
Raghubir Yadav was seen in recent projects like Pagglait and Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar too. He personally loved his characters in Mullah Nasruddin, Panchayat and Jamun. On a concluding note, he revealed that the second season of Panchayat is ready to go on floors. “We are waiting for the situation to ease out,” he said.
Happy birthday, Raghubir Yadav!
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