I've been enjoying reading thebollywoodfan's tweets and blog posts
for the annual celebration of "Lagaan week." It occurred to me that not only was Lagaan
my first Bollywood film, and the film that started my interest in Indian film, but it also was the source of my fandom/obsession with filmi character actors.
I watched Lagaan
sometime in early 2002 (it was on two VHS tapes, from the local blockbuster.) The story, the visuals, and the music all sucked me in, but I was especially impressed by the actors playing the team members. I also had a "Hey! It's That Guy!" moment in Lagaan.
The (discontinued) pop-culture website Fametracker had an ongoing feature about the supporting players you'd see a lot in Hollywood films:
So how do you become a Hey! It's That Guy!? Well, it's pretty simple. Number one, you have to be in a lot of movies. Number two, it helps if you usually play exactly the same kind of role. Number three, you can't have a high name-recognition factor among the general public.
The "That Guy" of Lagaan
was Kulbhushan Kharbanda,
who played the local landlord, Raja Puran Singh:
His was a familiar face, because earlier that winter I'd seen the not-quite-Bollywood Monsoon Wedding
, in which he played one of the bride's uncles.
Many, many films later, I still have a little thrill of pleasure when Kharbanda shows up in a film.
Another character who made a strong impression in Lagaan
, was Guran, played by Rajesh Vivek
I watched a few Hindi films here and there in the years after I saw Lagaan,
but about 2 years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole of watching several films a week (thanks to Netflix and my local library.) One of the first films I watched was Jodhaa Akbar,
and I was happy to see two old friends:
A few months later, I was working my way through various Shahrukh Khan films, and there was Rajesh Vivek, playing the postmaster in Swades:
When I had the idea for this post, I was looking up the cast members, and to my delight discovered that Pradeep Rawat
played Deva, the Sikh sepoy:
|Fun wikipedia fact: SI film stalwart Mukesh Rishi was the first choice for this part!|
As I've watched more and more (and more) South Indian films, Pradeep Rawat has shown up quite a bit. Usually he plays a mustachioed villain (see the Tamil and Hindi versions of Ghajini
), and most recently, I saw him going head to head with Prakash Raj
in the Telugu film Bhadra:
It's nice to know that the work of interesting supporting Indian film actors circles back from my current film fixation to the first Bollywood film I ever saw!