Nana Patekar The Common Man Hero
Ali Peter John
As it is time to usher in another era of Nana Patekar, the Apla Manush(common man) of our times it will only be in the fitness of things to try and know the real Nana behind the Nana everyone in the industry and outside hold in so much of awe and admiration too….
- Nana has been a typical Mumbai boy with his roots firmly in the soil. He was born in a lower middle class family but had developed a penchant for all that was artistic, whether it was painting , music or Marathi theatre.
- He studied art at the J.J School of Art where he had colleagues like Amol Palekar and his first wife Chitra, Nitin Chandrakant Desai and Atmanand and Vivek (Studio Link). He was recognized as one of the best sketch artists and his fame spread so wide that the police sought him help to sketch criminals even when he was a student.
- He had to make a choice between being a painter or a sketch artist or take to Marathi theatre for which he had a great fascination. He decided to get involved in theatre. Nana started out as a helping hand and came in touch with great actors and directors like Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Neelu Phule, Amol Palekar, Yashwant Dutt and the late Reema Lagoo among many others who recognized him for his hard work back stage.
- There is a story about how one of the key role players failed to report for a show and all the veterans like Vijay Tendulkar and Vijaya Rajadhyaksha were in a state of confusion as the tickets were already sold out. They were still discussing what to do when the humble back stage worker Nana approached them and said that he could do the role as he knew all the lines and the timing and the movements of the character the actor who was absent was to play. The veterans decided to take a very big risk and Nana was on stage playing one of his live or die performances and when the curtain came down , a great actor called Nana Patekar was born.
- He did several Marathi plays later and established himself as a brand and an actor in a class of his own who could play the most ruthless and the most comic roles
- He shot to national fame when he did a Marathi film called “Maaficha Saakshidaar” which was a realistic film based on the infamous Abhyankar- Joshi murder case in south Mumbai. He played one of the ruthless killers and the way he played it sent shivers down the spines of the audience. His chilling performance led the censor to ban the film but the ban was lifted later. However, the film gave Nana a very strong foundation to build his career as an actor.
- He did another menacing character in a Marathi play called “Purush” in which he had Smita Patil as his co-star and Smita was so carried away by Nana’s performance that she not only inspired him to try Hindi films but also recommended him for the role of a villain in “Aaj Ki Aawaz” being directed by the veteran filmmaker B.R Chopra and starring Raj Babbar and Smita. Nana played his role with such cool efficiency that more than the film and Raj and Smita , it was Nana who stole the show completely and everyone in the Industry wanted to know who this new actor was.
- Nana continued to play very strong roles in Hindi films and was recognized as an all-rounder in two films of N. Chandra, the director who was once an assistant editor of filmmakers like Bapu from the south and Gulzar.
- He however became a superstar in his own right when he played the krantikariin Mehul Kumar “Krantiveer” which created a sensation all over and even a legend like Dilip Kumar said he could never play the role Nana had played in the film. Nana worked more wonders in films like “Tirangaa” in which he was teamed with the eccentric Raaj Kumar and many felt that the two mad men would destroy Mehul Kumar who was the director, but they got along like a house on fire and the film was another landmark in Nana’s career.
- Nana directed only one film called “Prahaar” which had most of the actors including him playing commandos. It was the first film of Sham Kaushal as an action director, but Nana had some bad experiences with the producer and never directed a film again.
- Nana is a great admirer of stalwarts like Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand. He was moved to tears when I told him how much Dilip Kumar loved his performance in “Krantiveer”. He was dubbing at Anand Recording Studio which belonged to Dev Anand. I met him in the lobby and for the heck of it asked him if he had ever met Dev Anand and he became very emotional and said he had not. I asked him if he would like to meet him and he folded his hands and said , “ Mee tuza haa upkar kadhi visarnaar naahi” and I called Dev Sahab in his pent house and told him that I was bringing an actor called Nana Patekar to see him.” Bring him..bring him.. I have heard so much about him”. Nana seemed like a school boy who was about to see the star he was a fan of. He couldn’t believe that he was seeing Dev Anand face to face. He did not say a word , but only sat at Dev Sahab’s feet and cried for the next fifteen minutes and Dev Sahab could not stop him and told him that he was a great actor with a grand future. Nana started crying louder.
- Nana has a famous Marathi actress NeelKanti as his wife and a son called Malhaar who looks after his business issues
- He lives in a two bed room flat allotted him in the artist quota and for a long time cooked his own meals and made his own tea. He has recently acquired another flat in the same building which he uses as his office. He also uses the office for the movement he has started to help farmers. He has his own house which is like a hut in Pune where he goes whenever he has the time. He lives there like any ordinary farmer and has his own farm where he grows vegetables and is always dressed like a farmer at work, in a simple kaastha(langot).
- He has friends among every political party but has not sought favours from them because he knows that he can run them down any time.
- There was a time when I could walk into his house any time , but only recently I realized that one had to take an appointment and then go through a strict security check.
“ DOES THIS CHANGE MEAN THAT THE COMMON MAN , THE APLA MANUSH HAS CHANGED ???”
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