Once a well-known Bollywood villain and character actor, Gurudarshan Singh Josan's life has been a roller coaster ride from being a popular face from Hindi cinema to a lonely resident of Red Cross Senior Citizens Home in Sarabha Nagar.
Sharing a love-hate relationship with the world of Hindi movies at present, Josan is now mulling a comeback, though not exactly in the world of films.
Popularly known by his screen name Darshan, the 85-year-old is considering return to theatre to face audience all over again.
Living in the old age home for a decade now, the veteran actor was coaxed into reconsidering a comeback due to persistent efforts of city-based theatre actor-director Tirlochan Singh Panesar.
President of theatre group 'Rangmanch Rangnagri', Panesar said he approached the octogenarian actor after he heard about him a few weeks ago from a friend.
"I was surprised to know that an actor who has worked with almost all top Hindi movie stars in the 60s and 70s is living an obscure life in an old-age home. I have heard how he feels despaired and defeated in life. I don't want him to go away from the world unsung, and to think that society doesn't care for him anymore," remarked Panesar.
Born in Nabha, Josan was an ace football player during college. Owing to frequent transfers of his father, who worked with Indian army, the family moved to Mumbai. Following an accident that made him bed-ridden for six months, Darshan gave up football and through connections, entered cinema.
Josan began his career as a villain with Rono Mukherjee's 1965 film 'Tu Hi Meri Zindagi'. An instant hit, Darshan signed one film after another with negative roles, only to return the signing amount a year later as his wife never approved of his movie career in the beginning.
Five years later, Darshan returned, but realised that popular faces such as Amrish Puri, Ranjeet and Prem Chopra had taken over roles with negative shades.
Heeding the advice of film producer Subodh Mukherjee, Darshan took up character role in Mukherjee's next venture 'Sharmilee'. The 1971 film starring Shashi Kapoor and Rakhi went on to become a major hit and celebrated silver jubilee across the country.
Darshan was again in demand and, for the next decade, there was never a dearth of work. "I did three shifts in a day. Money was good. I was neck deep in work and was enjoying every moment," a nostalgic Darshan recalled, who even worked as a dialogue writer for a couple of films, including 1977 release 'Haiwan'.
After his wife passed away in 1984, Darshan spiralled into depression. "I was not me anymore. I didn't know what was happening around me when friends and relatives took away whatever money I had earned, whatever assets I possessed. I moved to Madras to live in an old age home. But a relative staying in Ludhiana called me here and settled me in this home," he narrated.
About his comeback, the actor says, "Panesar asked me to make a comeback, repeatedly. I feel honoured, but apprehensive also. These days, the weather is too cold for any movement. But I think I will join the group in the coming summers. I do not know what I can offer now or what the audience should expect of me. Let's see how it turns out," he concluded.