He has bought tickets for the film he acted in and has seen days when artistes collected money from the audience after their show. But, as Satish Kaushik puts it, ‘it’s been a journey worth cherishing’.
Your earliest memory of him might be that of Ashok Namboodiripad — Pankaj Kapur’s character, Tarneja’s assistant in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983). “I had written the dialogues for the film with Ranjit Kapoor and also acted in it alongside big names of the industry such as Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur, Om Puri and Satish Shah. When this film came out, the ‘budget frenzy’ had not kicked in. I still remember reaching the film’s premiere and being told by Kundan Shah (the director) to buy the tickets. It was Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, we had to!” recalls Satish, in Chandigarh on Monday for the live performance of bhajan singer Anup Jalota.
Terming Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro an example of cinematic excellence, Kaushik goes on to say, “I am trying to recreate the magic of similar humour with Gang of Ghosts — remake of Bengali film Bhooter Bhobishyot. The film, which stars Anupam Kher, Mahie Gill and Sharman Joshi, would not fail to tickle audience’s funny bone.”
When in conversation with the man himself, we possibly couldn’t forget bringing up ‘chota kaun? Bada kaun?’. About playing the younger one in Zee TV’s much loved Top Ten: Old Indian Countdown Show with Pankaj Kapur, Kaushik says, “Tittu & Tony came about during my trip to Canada, where I met a lot of Sikh gentlemen and instantly got inspired. I returned with the idea of having a show with the flavour of Punjab. Everyone was hesitant, since Punjabi was not ‘in fashion’ then. But, thanks to our comic timing, the show worked wonders.”
After graduating from National School of Drama, Satish went to Mumbai in 1979, the journey after which, he says, has not been a cakewalk. “At the time, people were pouring in in hundreds everyday to be a part of the industry; I was one of them. Nobody really cared and knew about NSD then. It was because of people like Om Puri and Naseerudin Shah that people started taking notice of NSD products. Prithvi Theater (Mumbai) looked after my bread till the time I got established in the film industry.
I have seen those days when, after the play, artistes like me used to spread out their kurtas to collect money from the audience. But, today when I look back, I cherish the struggle period.” Despite doing a majority of comic roles, Kaushik doesn’t take kindly to being called a comedian.
“Comedy is an art; the one who performs it is to be called an actor. ‘Comedian’ seems incomplete for someone who has worked so hard to make the audience laugh. For me, comedy has never been about having a laugh at the cost of others; it’s been about making them laugh at me.”