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Updated: July 6, 2011 19:33 IST

Insights into an actor

Vijay George
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Renowned actor Dr. Mohan Agashe Photo: Mohammed Yousuf.
The Hindu
Renowned actor Dr. Mohan Agashe Photo: Mohammed Yousuf.

Veteran actor and psychiatrist Dr. Mohan Agashe talks about striking a balance between his profession and his passion for acting. He debuts in Mollywood in a cameo in Shaji Kailas' forthcoming The King and the Commissioner

He deals with the intricacies of the human mind and emotions, both as a psychiatrist and also as an actor. But Mohan Agashe finds it surprising when he is asked how he deals with his career as a medico and his incessant passion for acting. “You have to maintain a balance between what you have to do and what you like to do,” says Dr. Agashe, who is debuting in Malayalam cinema with a guest role in director Shaji Kailas' Mammootty-Suresh Gopi starrer The King and the Commissioner, the shooting of which is going on in Kochi.

Matters of survival

“You have to strike a balance between the right and the left. Biologically we have been given a right and a left, and just like we have two legs, two eyes, and so on, we also need two professions to maintain that balance. The profession you choose for survival need not necessarily be the profession that gives meaning to your survival. So you need one to survive and another one to make that survival worth it. Of course, there are some lucky people who get to do what they like.”

Dr. Agashe has been into theatre since his schooldays and throughout his medical career. His passion for theatre took a new direction when he started associating with luminaries such as Jabbar Patel and Satish Alekar during his college days. And theatre has never left him since. Currently, he is busy with the play Katkon Trikon (Right-angled Triangle) that opened last year, which talks about the impact of the generation gap on relationships.

Quiz him about his fascination for acting and he says: “It's another myth. We all start our lives by acting. I don't know of any child who hasn't acted even when he/she was a toddler. Some of them are lucky to continue acting. Others are not so lucky and that is the only difference. In my case, I eventually became a psychiatrist, but by choice.” He thinks that the difference in acting on stage and in movies is like “drinking a fresh fruit juice and canned juice.”

So then what excites him more, theatre or the movies? His reply is, in fact, another question: “Which is more exciting, real life or virtual life?”

Dr. Agashe is quite impressed by the relaxed atmosphere at the location of The King and the Commissioner and says that he is enjoying every moment of it. “It was Mammootty, whom I had known from the time he was shooting for Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who suggested my name. I have seen some of Mammootty's films and have great respect for him.”

He feels that regional language films are particularly strong in India and believes that film societies in Kerala have been instrumental in bringing in a strong film culture here. Having been a part of Marathi cinema for long he feels that there is some kind of a resurgence happening in the industry, particularly in the last 10 years. “With Mumbai being the main centre of Hindi film industry, the going has never been easy for Marathi cinema. But quite a number of young filmmakers have come up with competent films,” he says.

Regional theatre

However, like Maharashtra, Kerala too has had a strong history of theatre. But why is it that it has lost its popularity only here? “In Maharashtra theatre probably survives because there is a good crop of young writers and also a receptive audience, particularly for contemporary theatre,” says the artiste, who has in the past held the post of the Director of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.

Dr. Agashe is also quite selective about accepting films. His roles in offbeat films such as Rang de Basanti, Ab tak Chappan, Gangaajal, Hu Tu Tu, Train to Pakistan, and Mrityudand, among many others have been well appreciated. He has also done a few commercials, the latest being an Airtel ad along with young actor Rajat Barmecha. “I don't do too many films. I believe that one must be careful about exposure as an actor. The exposure should be just right, not too much and not too little.”