The Satish Kaushik You Never Knew

‘I did a small role in Masoom.’
‘Do you remember the scene where an old man brings Jugal Hansraj to Naseer’s house?’
‘I put on the full make-up of an old man and stood in front of Shekhar.’
‘He had no choice but to take me.’

Patcy N/ interviewed Satish Kaushik thrice.

The first time was in 2007, when his acclaimed international film Brick Lane was making waves.

The most recent time was in 2022, when he spoke about the changes in Indian Cinema.

He has always been very modest and fun, speaking to you as if you are an old friend.

Patcy recalls interesting excerpts of a conversation about how he became a part of the film industry 40 years ago.

“On August 8, 1979, actor Raja Bundela and I came to Mumbai. It was Raksha Bandhan. When we reach Virar bridge (a township north of Mumbai), we removed the rakhi from our wrists and threw them in the water, asking for our sisters’ blessings. It was totally filmi.”

‘NSD changed my whole perception about acting’

“As a child, I never got attention because of my looks.

I was an attention seeker, so I would do antics and make people laugh.

I wanted to play basketball but was too short.

I wanted to become a doctor, but as I was a Brahmin, cutting a frog was out of question. My family was not fine with the idea.

Whatever I wanted to do, there would be some problem in it.

I was a movie buff, so I would bunk school and watch films.

I would take money from my mom’s pocket and go for the movies.

Once my brother caught me. He saw a newspaper in which all the movie names were crossed, and realised that I had seen all of them.

He bashed me up.

One day, I saw my cousin performing a mono act at a wedding.

I really liked it and improvised on it. I performed at my school farewell and everybody loved it.

I felt I was recognised on the last day of school.

I decided to go to a college where dramatics was given importance, so I joined the Kirori Mal College, where Amitabh Bachchan had also studied.

My professor pushed me into acting.

Because of him, I joined NSD (the National School Of Drama).

NSD changed my whole perception about acting and the way I looked never bothered me after that.”

‘Bombay was very tough’

“I wanted to make it big in Mumbai.

After passing out, I did not even think of going to the Film and Television Institute Of India (FTII) because I knew it would be tougher. But I got a chance to study at FTII for six months.

Bombay was very tough.

I struggled a lot.

I took up a job at Premiere Textile Mills for one year.

My boss was very kind to me, so in the evenings, I would perform in plays outside Prithvi Theatre and collect money.

Om Puri, Karan Razdan, Raja Bundela and I would survive on that money.

We would sleep at Prithvi.

When I first came to the city, I stayed with my relatives in Byculla (central Mumbai).

When they came to know that I had come to act, they stopped talking to me.

I left that place and got a paying guest accommodation opposite Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow.”

‘Naseeruddin Shah put in a good word for me’

“How I joined Shekhar Kapur is an interesting story.

I was working as an assistant on a film called Aadharshila, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Anita Kanwar.

I met Shashi Kapoor’s spot boy who told me that Shekhar Kapur was starting a new film and was looking for an assistant.

I ran after him, but did not get him. I would keep calling his home, but no luck.

Then somebody told me he was going to the airport to drop someone off, so I reached the airport.

He thought I was catching a flight, but I told him I had come to ask him for work. He asked me to meet him after three days.

When I met him, he told me all posts were full.

I was upset.

I told him, ‘You will miss a good assistant.’

Naseeruddin Shah put in a good word for me, and I got the job to assist him in Masoom.

We became brothers.

I started living in his house.

In fact, I did a small role in Masoom. Do you remember the scene where an old man brings Jugal Hansraj to Naseer’s house?

I put on the full make-up of an old man and stood in front of Shekhar. He had no choice but to take me.

I assisted him on Joshilay, Mr India and after that, I wrote the dialogues for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro.

Soon, I started getting roles.”

‘Anil Kapoor helped me a lot’

“People started noticing me after I played Calendar in Mr India.

There is a funny incident as to how I got that role.

Javed Akhtar was writing the script.

I would sit with him on the writing sessions and had suggested the name ‘Calendar’.

I worked on the role — that the character should be a pansy. In the end, I got it.

I also acted in Jalwa.

Anil Kapoor helped me a lot.

‘People appreciated my work, but my films did not do well’

“I got to direct Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja because of Anil Kapoor and Boney Kapoor.

It was a very big budget film, but did not work. The same thing happened again with Prem.

People appreciated my work, but my films did not do well.

It was depressing.

But I was getting acting roles, so that was satisfying.

When I directed Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain, I got my groove and started giving hits.

Then I did Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hain, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, Badhai Ho Badhai and Tere Naam. All of them worked.

‘I have done lovable comedy, never vulgar’

“I improvise on my characters and coin my lines, as I am a writer — whether it was Saajan Chale Sasural‘s Muthu Swami or Deewana Mastana‘s Pappu Pager.

I have done lovable comedy, never vulgar.

Brick Lane changed everything for me as an actor.

‘Your roots always remind you of good days’

“My production house is called Karol Bagh Film & Entertainment Private Ltd for a reason.

Anupam Kher would come to eat parathas at my house in Karol Bagh, Delhi, when we were studying in NSD.

So when I started a production house and asked Anupam to come on board, he suggested Karol Bagh.

Your roots always remind you of good days.”

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