As veteran Punjabi actor Mehar Mittal passed away at the age 81 on Saturday, here’s an interview that he gave to HT last year. He was in Ludhiana in April 2015 to attend Baisakhi celebrations at the local Brahma Kumari World Spiritual University (WSU) branch. He did some bhangra and shared several jokes other than his message on spirituality.
Mittal had joined the Brahma Kumari movement nine years ago and has settled down at the university’s headquarters at Rajasthan’s Mount Abu, where he breathed his last. He talked about his motivation to follow the spiritual path, views on the scene of comedy today, the current status of Punjabi cinema, and more. Excerpts:
What encouraged you to take this spiritual path? Has life changed in any way?
I am often asked this question by all my fans. 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; 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 that whatever knowledge and talent we posses is because of God’s blessings.
Now for your rich experience in the Punjabi film industry, please share your most memorable roles with us.
Each and every role is memorable and close to my heart but sometimes, I laugh to myself 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, Valaiti Babu, Jeeja Saali, Kunwara Mama, and Jatti.
How will you compare today’s comedy with your days in the seventies and eighties; and what are your views about the current scene of Punjabi cinema?
Today, comedy has become very artificial. 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... I also used to think of opening my own school. Had I opened it, I would have never let any child to take the kind of pressure they do nowadays. We must realise the importance of giving our children enough 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. 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 meditation never lets me feel old. It is a state of mind.