Sadashiv Amrapurkar never really belonged to commercial cinema. Despite playing a variety of roles in Bollywood — even winning awards for his fine performances — his heart was somewhere else; he wanted to use his skills and resources for social causes. As a performer, he was quite talented and hard working. But he was more of a social activist than an actor.
I remember him as someone who was very down to earth when we worked together around two decades ago for Samajik Krutadnyata Nidhi (SKN), a social gratitude fund founded by Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Dr Shreeram Lagoo and some others, including me. (This fund was aimed at expressing gratitude towards social activists across the state by raising funds for them; well-known activist Medha Patkar was one of the beneficiaries). Amrapurkar was among the few actors to join the SKN early on. He always questioned the need for foreign funding for activists, and played his part to ensure they had locally raised resources.
The fund got a major financial boost after a tour of Acharya Atre’s play Lagnachi Bedi, which had Amrapurkar as part of the big cast, besides Tanuja, Reema Lagoo and Rohini Hattangadi. The play was staged more than 20 times across the state.
Amrapurkar also lent his support to the Anna Hazare movement in 2011 and was quite active in engaging citizens during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections by holding several discussions to make voters aware of their rights.
In fact, one of his notable initiatives for his hometown Ahmednagar, which is located between Pune and Aurangabad, was an association that sought to uplift sex workers.
He may have achieved stardom and recognition through iconic performances early on in Bollywood, especially his role in 1983’s Ardh Satya, Amrapurkar knew the limitations of commercial cinema, and often strayed to other mediums. Those who knew him were well aware of this side to his personality.
Pushpa Bhave is a social activist, educationist and writer
(As told to Swati Goel Sharma)