I think I’m doing one of the toughest jobs an actor could ever do — comedy. I personally feel it’s one of the most underrated genres and you can’t take it so lightly,” says film and television actor Sumeet Raghavan, well-known for his role as Dr Sahil Sarabhai in Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai. “It’s very difficult to make people laugh. When you do an emotional scene, you have various things to fall back on — you can use glycerin and camera work, among others. But in comedy, you are absolutely exposed as an actor so I’m really happy that people consider me as a bankable actor for decent comedy,” adds Raghavan, who has acted in several hit television serials as well as block-buster Hindi and Marathi films.
One of his latest ones is Madhuri Dixit’s Marathi debut, Bucket List, in which Raghavan played the lead role. He will soon be seen playing veteran actor Shriram Lagoo in an upcoming Marathi film, Ani… Dr Kashinath Ghanekar alongside actor Subodh Bhave. “As an actor, you wait for good roles because you want people to see some other side of you as an actor,” says Raghavan, during a press meet in Pune.
“When I met Dr Lagoo at his residence, he kept asking me if they (filmmakers) had any role for him,” recalls Raghavan when asked about his preparation for the role of the legendary actor. Stating that it wasn’t really difficult for him to get under the skin of Dr Lagoo’s character, Raghavan says that the kind of “acting pattern” which the former followed, is the same as him and that he didn’t really have to alter his acting style.
The biopic, which revolves around the genius of Dr Ghanekar — the man whose overt theatrics amazed fans, and who was often disapproved by another doctor turned actor of the time, Dr Lagoo. Raghavan, who plays the latter in the film, says that despite their differences, both managed to carve a niche for themselves. “Being impractical and being practical was the basic difference between the two. It’s true that their acting patterns were completely different, so someone may have disapproved someone’s theatrics. But that still doesn’t stop the other person from doing what he does. Dr Ghanekar, though being a doctor, got trapped into his own aura where he couldn’t see beyond it. And because he came in late, he brought in a lot maturity and dignity. And because of his vision, he travelled the world,” he says.
Raghavan praised his co-star Bhave getting into television after a long time with his hit-series, Tula Pahate Re, and talked about the medium being more advantageous than celluloid. “With television, you get instant feedback, unlike a play or a film,” he says.
For someone who has been a TV star for years now, ask him about the current trend of reprising old hit TV shows like Kasautti Ziindagi Kay for small screen and the newer digital mediums or his own show Sarabhai V/s Sarabhai for the web, his reply is rather diplomatic. “I am not saying that 20 years down the line, some people will talk about the show which is going on right now. But that anything good is palatable and will be consumed whenever you produce it,” says Raghavan.
On reprising Zabaan Sambhal Ke, in which he will play Mohan Bharti — the character played by ace actor Pankaj Kapur in the original, Raghavan says that the remake is a completely different from the original. “Everything is fresh. We’ve got a different cast, different actors who are playing different students this time and the students are more wacky and crazy. This time the humor that the writers and the creators have used is innuendo-laden. As far as my character goes, I’ve maintained the innocence of Mohan Bharti, I’ve tried to keep the essence intact,” says Raghavan, who adds that playing a character which is remembered by people is quite a challenge. “That’s like walking a tightrope because there are many associations, memories attached and you don’t want to take the wrong foot forward. So my only brief to myself has been that I’m not to going to ape anyone,” he says.
Raghavan, who is no stranger to new age content platforms, having acted in quite a few projects himself, admits that such platforms are forcing a change in the content delivered to audiences. “Digital platforms are a great thing due to which a lot of original content is coming ahead. Yes, there were some subjects which were taboo as far as television was concerned. You couldn’t show bold scenes and couldn’t use cuss words, but these platforms have given the creative mind a longer rope, to come up with subjects which are unconventional,” he concludes.