A poor mechanic in blockbuster hit Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), schoolmaster Deenanath Chauhan in Agneepath (1990), Kailash Nath in Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994), Suraj Dev in Pardes (1997), Tara Babu in Taal (1999) and Ramkishen in Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999) — veteran Bollywood actor Alok Nath is one of the few character artistes who wouldn’t complain of being typecast as a father in most films, because his characters are etched in public memory.
Was playing the ‘darling papa’ of 70 mm a conscious decision? “There are roles that one wishes to do, such as playing the characters that Salman [Khan] got to play. But, does that help? Destiny, circumstances and helplessness landed me here. What do you do when you don’t have money to buy food or a house to live in? You accept whatever you get and incidentally, you are typecast in a particular role. And if you say no, eventually someone else will end up doing it, which will lead to an increase in the competition. People liked me in the character of an old person and I started liking that too,” he says.
About the beginning of his journey in Mumbai, Nath shares, “I did schooling and graduation from Delhi and then went to the National School of Drama. The first film that I did was Gandhi in 1979 that helped me earn some money and go to Mumbai when I was 23 years old. But my major break in the world of entertainment was with TV serial Buniyaad, in which I acted when I was 26. In the serial, I was shown to have aged and the last episode saw me playing an 80-year-old. But, I was only 28 then.”
The actor says he is now used to playing a father. “I don’t take it as a compliment, but as a way of life. Initially, I thought, ‘Main jawani mein hi budhapa apna raha hun’ (I am adopting old age in my youth). But then, I needed to do it to survive. I still don’t have any regrets. I got what was destined, did it to the best of my capacity and with good intentions. A great philosopher once said, ‘The happiest man is he who goes smiling to his grave.’ I’m happy, as I’m still working,” says Nath, who is currently seen on Zee TV’s serial, Do Dil Bandhe Ek Dori Se.
After having spent more than 30 years in the Hindi film and TV industry, Nath summarises his experience. “The entire industry is a great commune. People from all walks of life come here — Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Now, our films are also getting international recognition. We are making not just commercial films but also off-beat ones that are critically acclaimed. There are lakhs of people working in the industry, from writers, directors, technicians and assistants to light boys, junior artistes etc. It’s like one big family,” Nath says.
The actor is not hanging up his boots just yet. Mention his Punjabi roots and the actor says he would like to do a Punjabi film next. “I’m looking forward to doing a Punjabi film. My sister Vineeta Malik recently played a role in the upcoming film Surkhaab. I saw the film’s trailer and really liked it. The film has bagged various awards such as the Platinum Remi at the Houston International Film Festival and was screened at the St Tropez International Film Festival in France,” he tells us.
Talking of Punjab, Nath doesn’t forget to mention that his wife is from Chandigarh. “She used to study at Government College in the city, came to Mumbai to do journalism, started assisting in a serial in which I was acting and the rest is history,” he says, with his trademark angelic smile.