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Monday, March 19, 2001

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Dead actors walking

It is inevitable. In real or reel life. The only difference is in reel life the script writers kill you off. But for the viewers the responses are often similar. So religious followers of two popular soaps Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Saaya will have been terribly saddened over the death of their favourite characters Mihir Virani and Jagat Narayan.

Both the actors had appeared in the two soaps for over a 100 episodes before they were killed off. What to do. Life (and death) are like that only. And the actors knew it was coming. ‘‘I knew I would die after 125 episodes,’’ reveals Upadhyay who played the straight-forward, honest, loving Mihir, ‘‘I was told right in the beginning. But it was such an amazing role that I still couldn’t say no,’’ Mihir was the perfect man.

Rajendra Gupta the kind of husband or father no one would want also knew he was to die. His death, he believes, is part of the winding up of Saaya. ‘‘And no problem dying: when a serial or a character is extremely popular it should not be dragged beyond a limit.’’

Nevertheless, the day their deaths were aired, it was difficult. Seeing a garland on Mihir’s photo frame, Amar’s mother and wife were in tears and he had a tough time consoling them. ‘‘They cried like hell. I had to switch off the television,’’ he says. At Gupta’s home the scene wasn’t so dramatic. His wife only told him that ‘‘Aise scenes to mat kiya karo aap’’.

Kyunki... airs between 10.30 pm-11.00 pm so the day Mihir died it was 11.50 pm when Amar’s phones started ringing incessantly. ‘‘And mind you, I have two lines and a cell phone and all three were ringing and there were calls from Madras and Hyderabad and all over the place,’’ continues Upadhyay, Gupta has also been receiving calls and meeting people who want to know why they killed him. ‘‘I got a very good response: I think people liked me a lot. But I didn’t know they liked me so much,’’ admits Gupta, with surprise.

Undoubtedly, for both actors, these soaps have been one of their finest experiences. For Gupta it’s been in a career spanning 30 years and for Amar it’s a decade since he began acting. ‘‘A fantastic experience and my career has taken a good turn,’’ feels Upadhyay, ‘‘Many more doors have opened up and I am picking up the best. There are offers not only from television producers but film people also. But I am going slow.’’ For Gupta? ‘‘I can’t define it, but I would always look forward to the shoot of Saaya. I could see the actor within me working hard.” Gupta won the RAPA award last year for his performance in Saaya and last week Amar was at Delhi’s Teen Murti Bhavan auditorium to collect the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award for his achievements from the former Lok Sabha Speaker, Balram Jhakar.

For fans of Amar Upadhyay there is hope that he might be back keep your fingers crossed. As far as Rajendra Gupta goes you should feel happy when you remember his photo hanging on the wall because while Jagat Narayan was a wonderful character, he was an awful nuisance, too.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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