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A bit for the soul

ACTING Myriad roles later, sensitive actor Kanwaljeet is eager to play characters with depth



STAR SPEAK: There isn't enough for the rooh PHOTO: R.V. Moorthy

IN THE hugely successful soap 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 got his share of viewer empathy.

The credit for it definitely goes to the sure-fire script as well as Kanwaljeet's acting prowess.

Ask around and even today, many a viewer would insist it was difficult to accuse this handsome, caring and true-to-life man as the wrongdoer, the home-breaker.

So to put Gautam in the straightjacket of "the adulterous man" was a hard task, not just for Priya but for the viewers as well.

Power-packed script

"I would attribute its success to the script and superb direction of Neena. I always say that if the quality of teleserials is going down now, it is not because of the viewers or actors, but because of those dishing them out. 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," says Kanwaljeet.

Not that he doesn't do dumbed down roles.

"But we as actors need to survive. So for money, we need to do these roles," he justifies. "But I try to do justice to the roles to the extent 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 several channels, doing serious to comic roles. From Siski, Dard to the now showing Family No. 1 on Sony TV, Saara Akaash on Star Plus and Kkaanch on Doordarshan.

To his credit are also films such as Hum Rahe Na Hum, Satte Pe Satta, Sharaat, Dastan-e-Laila, Maachis and the Pierce Brosnan starrer The Deceivers.

Aparna Sen's film

And to quench "the thirst of his rooh (soul)" as he calls it, Kanwaljeet is at present "doing a small role" in Aparna Sen's 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 good scope for emoting. And she passed on the phone to Aparna. I at once said yes. You need good roles to satisfy your soul too."

Surrendering to the soul

Earlier this month, we also saw him as Colonel Bubbles in the crossover comedy Kuch Meetha Ho Jai.

Besides working for "such meaningful films", he has thought many times about doing plays for satisfying his rooh.

"But somehow, I am afraid of theatre. Many times, I thought of plunging into it but always stopped myself. It could be the fear of a live audience and having no retakes! But recently, Om Kataria has got in touch with me for a play. I still have not said yes to him."

Let's hope he takes the plunge this time.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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