VIRENDRA SAXENA “TV has given me money to live”

The veteran actor who prefers to be low profile laments that though TV has given him money to live, quality has been sidelined for quantity.

By Jyothi Venkatesh
You have not been seen in any TV serial for quite some time. Why?
Though I confess that it is only my stint in TV that has given me money to live decently, you would not believe it but every month I have been refusing in the last five years at least five different offers to act in TV serials. I excuse myself by telling the producers that I do not shoot beyond Mira Road.
In how many TV serials have you acted till date?
I have acted in around 150 TV serials till date. If you ask me which are my best, I would name Jassi Jaisi Koyi Nahin, Afsar Bitiya, Ajnabi, Kis Des Mein Hai Mera Dil, Teacher, Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai, Dil Dariya, Ummeed and Shatranj.

What do you think of TV serials these days?
The reason is that the standard of television has come down. The emphasis is unfortunately no longer on quality but on quantity and everything is geared towards increase in TRP’s.
Is it true that you acted in a play after a long period of time recently?
Yes. I acted in a play called Jaana Tha Roshanpura recently with my wife Samta Sagar. It was after a long gap of almost thirty years. Though I hail from theatre, unfortunately of late theatre in Mumbai is predominantly TV or film oriented and most of the people who are working in theatre do it only to get noticed by people who matter and not because they are genuinely passionate about theatre.

What is your approach as an actor? how do you approach each role of yours, whether in TV , film or theatre?
As an actor, it has always been my endeavour not to slot myself in any particular kind of a role though I know for a fact that an image helps an actor to attain stardom. To my credit, I have as many as 130 films till date. I am proud to state that I have never run after money or for that matter not repeated even one role and have always strived to essay different kinds of roles to prove my versatility as an actor.
Which are your forthcoming films?
In Rahat Kazmi’s latest film Mantosthan, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival recently, I play a retired judge. As I myself hail from a very small town, it was not difficult at all for me to get into the skin of my character with ease.
Can you tell me more about your film Mantosthan?
The film Mantosthan has the late Manto’s soul. The film has four different segments of Manto’s stories. I am part of the segment called Assignment, the original Urdu title of which was Gurmukhsingh Ki Waseehat.
What do you like about Manto?
The best thing about Manto is that he was bigger than his stories. Both Manto and Premchand Munshiji were writers who were very rooted to the soil
Is it true that you are also acting with Amitabh Bachchan in a film?
Yes. I am working in Prasoon Panday’s Love In Mathura with Bachchansaab. Besides Bachchansaab and I, the film also has four boys and three girls, besides a 9 year old kid. Besides Love in Mathura, I am also acting in Vivek Hai’s Dil Patang Hai and Hemant Verma’s Peeda for which I shot for 9 days in one single location.

Which are your five best films as an actor?
Bichchu, Bardaasht, Shool, Arjun Pandit and Tamas are my best films till date.


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