Of Laughter and Spirituality

  • Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 17, 2015 19:55 IST

The greatness of some celebrities certainly can never be put into words. Veteran Punjabi film comedian Mehar Mittal, 81, is one among them.A man who not only ruled Punjabi cinema at one point but also gave birth to unlimited laughter through his comic roles in a variety of films between early seventies and mid-nineties.

Today, he may be an octogenarian but is still brimful of ebullience and energy. The actor claims that medi- tation is the secret behind his energetic avatar. A spiritual person, Mittal joined Brahma Kumari World Spiritual University (WSU) eight years ago and has settled down at the university’s headquarters at Rajasthan’s Mount Abu.

In Ludhiana, on Sunday to attend the Baisakhi celebrations at the local WSU branch, Mittal did some Bhangra and shared few jokes other than his message on spirituality.

HT City exclusively interacted with the veteran actor about his motivation to follow the spiritual path, views on the scene of comedy today and the current status of Punjabi cinema and more.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

What encouraged you to take this spiritual path? Has life changed in any way?

I am often asked this question by all my fans but all I can say is that the world of spirituality is beyond any comparison and it makes one’s life very beautiful and satisfying. I have four daughters but I am really grateful to two of them who are part of this organisation for the past 20 years and inspired me to sail in the same boat. Such paths make old age very peaceful and rejuvenating. Always, remember whatever knowledge and talent we posses is because of God’s blessing.

Now for your rich experience in the Punjabi film industry, please share your most memorable roles with us. (Laughs) Each and every role is memorable and close to my heart but sometimes, I laugh on my own when I think of the various comic roles I enacted. In fact, these roles made my life very interesting and I am elated that I have been successful to make the best medicine – laughter for my fans. But some films that gave me a high were Do Madari, Valiati Babu, Jeeja Saali, Kunwara Mama and Jatti.

How will you compare today’s comedy with your days in seventies and eighties and what are your views about the current scene of Punjabi cinema?

Today, comedy has become very artificial but in my time, it was very natural. All characters that I played were very much the real examples of various villages which is why people today have still not forgotten those roles. And generally, in those days most comic scripts had a social message to give as well. For cinema, it is a matter of pride that it has made great progress and trying its best to match steps with Bollywood but there is need to explore more genres and subjects.

As you have made people laugh for several years, why do you think children today are so stressed?

Depression and suicide rates are on the rise in our country. I will blame the parents and educational system for the same. Heavy school bags, pressure from parents to not to score less than 90% marks, tuitions and lot more which makes me feel uncomfortable whenever I think about this state. Due to this scenario, depression and suicide rates are not going down.

I would like to reveal today that I also used to think of opening my own school but had I opened, I would have never let any child to take the kind of pressure they do nowadays. We must realise the importance of giving our childrenenough freedom so that they can explore their talent and focus on their overall development. People of all age groups must keep in mind that ‘life is like an ice cream, enjoy it before it melts’.

And, finally what is your advice to those who hide their age?

During my young age, I also never revealed my real age but all I can say is that a man is as old as he feels and a woman is as old as she looks. In my case, my spiritual path and indulgence in meditation never lets me feel as though I am old. It is a state of mind.

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