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In search of soul

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY strikes up a conversation with gifted actor Kanwaljeet Singh on his films and serial, on love and fear.

Photo: R.V. Moorthy.

From "Saans" to "Kaanch"... Kanwaljeet Singh in New Delhi.

IN THE hugely successful tele-serial Saans on Star Plus some years ago, if Neena Gupta as the wronged wife Priya, reaped all the sympathy, actor Kanwaljeet as the adulterous husband Gautam, too picked his share of viewer empathy. The credit for it definitely goes to the sure-fire script as well as to Kanwaljeet's acting prowess. Ask around you and even today, many a viewer would say that it was difficult to accuse this handsome, caring and true-to-life man as the wrongdoer, the home-breaker. So to cage Gautam in the straightjacket of `a man and his obvious story of adultery' was a hard task, not just for Priya but for the viewers as well.

"I would give the credit of its success to the script and superb direction of Neena. I always say if the quality of tele-serials is going down now, it is not the viewers, not the actors, but those dishing them out who are to be blamed. We gave them an intense, realistic drama with Saans and the viewers lapped it up. It is the lack of willingness to make good shows now that saddens me the most," Kanwaljeet says it all, as if waiting for his turn to let his heart out on the subject.

Not that he doesn't do these "dumbing down" roles.

"But I have a reason for this. We as actors need to survive. So for money, we need to do these roles," he defends, adding, "But I try to do justice to the roles till the script permits."

Having entered the small screen at a time when it was not such a popular medium, as the illegitimate son in Ramesh Sippy's Buniyaad, this FTII graduate won many hearts even then. As years rolled on, we saw him in many serials across the channels. Doing serious to comic roles. From Siski, Dard to the now showing Family No 1 on Sony TV to Saara Akaash on Star Plus to Kkaanch on Doordarshan and more. To his credit are also films like Hum Rahe Na Hum, Satte Pe Satta, Sharaat, Dastan-e-Laila, Maachis and Pierce Brosnan starrer The Deceivers.

Aparna Sen's film

And to quench the thirst of his rooh (soul), Kanwaljeet is at present "doing a small role" in Aparna Sen's forthcoming film 15, Park Avenue. "I was with my wife and kids at my farm house in Lonavala some time back and Shabana Azmi called me saying there is a role going, not a very lengthy one but has very good scope for emoting. And she passed on the phone to Aparna. I at once told her yes, you need good roles to satisfy your soul too," recounts Kanwaljeet. And just a few days back, he returned from shooting for the film in Bhutan and would "soon" pack his bags for Kolkata.

Also, on April 2, we would see him as Colonel Bubbles in a comedy crossover film Kuch Meetha Ho Jai.

Besides working for "such meaningful films," he has thought many times to do plays for rooh satisfaction. "But somehow, I am afraid of theatre. Many times, I thought of plunging into it but always managed to stop myself. It could be the fear of a live audience and no retakes. I am primarily a perfectionist. But recently, Om Kataria has got in touch with me for a play but I still have not said yes to him," he states.

Let's hope he jumps into it this time. Mumbai theatre this way would get hold of yet another talent.

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