Alok Nath shares the travails of being typecast.
"In our industry people would do anything to satisfy the star egos and often neglect the character artistes, who are equally important to the script."
His very name reminds one of a doting father but, curiously, Alok Nath started his film career as a hero opposite Tina Munim in a film called “Kamagni”.
“Few know that it was my first and last film as a hero. The film was ahead of its times as it was about a married woman who used to dream about an ideal man. It talked about female sexuality which was taboo in those days.” Yes, those were the days – year 1987 to be precise – when the television audience were besotted with the idealist Haveli Ram.
“‘Buniyaad’ catapulted me to popularity. I had just arrived from Delhi after a stint at NSD and was looking for an opportunity in the industry when the Sippys offered me the serial. Haveli Ram was a well-etched out character that allowed me to portray a range of emotions. I was just 26 then.” Today at 51, Alok says the serial satisfied the actor in him but he was typecast as an elderly person in the years to come. “‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ consolidated the image on the big screen,” quips Alok.
‘Ten year older to Salman’
“I am just ten years older to Salman. As it was the first film of Sooraj, we all had put extra effort and the film is still special for me.” He was so natural that he went on to play father to Amitabh Bachchan as well in “Agneepath”. “I never got bored as acting is my first love but, yes, a certain monotony did creep into my career.".
"Since an actor can’t do different roles unless offered, I tried to play different kinds of father. Here some novel concepts on television like “Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai” and “Astitva” helped. I once again got to show the actor in me.” Alok says there is something called an actor’s ego, which he never allowed to die. “In our industry people would do anything to satisfy the star egos and often neglect the character artistes, who are equally important to the script.”
Talking of the audience and the critics, Alok feels both of them are partly responsible for an actor getting typecast.
“When I played a villain in ‘Bol Radha Bol’, people remarked why have they made such a good man play a negative role? How do you think a director will take the courage to try something different with me again? This way Alok Nath will remain a ready-made father.”
At one point, Alok says, tired of the monotony, he wanted to quit. “Television schedules are so hectic that there is hardly any time to improvise and nobody pushes you either."
Alok maintains the only advantage he gets by virtue of being a senior in the industry is that he can come a little late and leave a little early.
“I tried production but it didn’t work out. Then I thought it is better to be part of the race rather than sit out and watch.”
So no farewell to the doting father as Alok returns as Prakash Chand with “Sapna Babul Ka…Bidaai” on Star Plus.
An interesting subject focussing on how our society still discriminates between girls on the basis of colour, Alok shares he plays father to two girls one of whom is adopted.
The serial also talks about how beauty which is considered to be the biggest asset of a girl can also become her greatest curse.
“The adopted one, Sadhna, is fair while my own daughter, Ragini, is dark complexioned. While I am totally devoted to both my wife thinks I discriminate between the two and she harbours ill-will against the adopted daughter. Then there is neighbourhood nagging, which is common in smaller towns. So it’s a role where I have to keep the delicate balance going,” explains Alok.
The good thing, adds Alok, is that the girls are best friends.” Set in Agra, newcomers Parul Chauhan and Sarah Khan are playing Ragini and Sadhna respectively.
The serial starts from this coming Monday.