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Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.

That one night, changed the life of Anupam Kher forever

14

Those days a young man who had gone bald before his time and who was a brilliant student of acting from the National School Of Drama was a struggler who lived on fresh air, the many smells and fragrances of the city of dreams and bags full of promises that were the only riches and wealth he had. His name was Anupam Kher and was moving from one paying guest accommodation to another with his younger brother Raju Kher who worked in a tin factory where he earned 10 rupees a day which helped the two brothers to keep hunger away. ..Ali Peter John 

He made the rounds of studios and offices where he met disappointment and false hopes which he stored in his heart and returned home with the determination to not give up hope, come what may. And the next morning he would get dressed up in his khadi kurta and pyjama (he had only two pairs of them) and start his trek to find work and success all over again

It was during these treks that he found one man who was willing to listen to his stories and gave him hope and more and more dreams in return which gave the struggling Anupam Kher the courage and the confidence to carry on in a city where he knew no one and had disappointment and disillusionment as his twin beloveds.

It was with these beloveds that he kept pursuing Mahesh Bhatt, the man who many young men and women saw and treated as a messiah.

And his dedication finally worked wonders for him when Mahesh Bhatt told him that he was considering him for a major role in a film to be produced by Rajshri Productions and Anupam believed that his long trek had come to an end.

Days passed and Anupam kept meeting Mahesh Bhatt who kept feeding him with empty promises.

Anupam had a close friend called Suhas Khandke who was his classmate at the NSD and who had helped him to come to Bombay and live with him in his large.house in Walkeshwar. Suhas had started off as a hero in one of the films produced by Rajshri Productions and when he realised that he couldn’t make it as a hero, he had started working in the direction department of the company.

One evening Suhas overheard a conversation between Mahesh Bhatt and the Barjatya brothers and they were talking about casting Sanjeev Kumar and Smita Patil in the film they were planning to make. Suhas had heard Anupam telling him about Mahesh casting him in a lead role. He took a guess that what Mahesh and the producers were discussing could be the same film Anupam was hoping to be cast in.

That same evening Suhas told Anupam about the discussion he had overheard and Anupam didn’t sleep that night.

The next morning Anupam packed his bags, but first went to where Mahesh Bhatt lived and abused and cursed Mahesh for taking him for a ride and cheating him. It was a ” performance” that shook up Mahesh Bhatt. He came down to where Anupam was standing with his bag and told him that his anger and anguish was what he wanted to see. Mahesh went up to his room and called the Barjatyas and told them that he would make the film only with Anupam Kher and no other actor

The film was” Saraansh” Anupam who was 27 was cast in the role of a 67 year old retired father of a young son who dies in America and Rohini Hattangady who had just played the role of Kasturba in “Gandhi” was chosen to play Anupam’s wife. And when the film was ready, it was first shown to Sanjeev Kumar who was so moved by Anupam’s performance that he called Anupam to congratulate him and told him and others that he would not have been able to play the role as well as Anupam had. Dilip Kumar who saw the film was another actor who confessed that Anupam was born to play the role and he couldn’t think about playing the role like Anupam had……

And that was the beginning of the unusual saga of an unusual actor who is still raring and daring to touch the sky of success matched with passion, perseverance and excellence. 40 years ago could Anupam or even the greatest astrologer’s and prophets imagine or predict what Anupam Kher from Shimla would be what he is today