Moved by the tragic story of veteran lead actor Satish Kaul, Punjabi University here has come forward to give it a happy ending.The man who ruled Punjabi cinema for more than 30 years now lives in poverty and isolation in Patiala.
It is this story in HT on Wednesday that prompted university vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh to call up the reporter in the morning to know the whereabouts of the forgotten actor. In the afternoon, he met Kaul and offered him special fellowship in honour of his huge body of work in more than 250 Punjabi and Hindi films.
The fellowship will pay Kaul Rs. 12,000 a month for at least three years. It will help him begin his rehabilitation and fulfil his dream of sharing his experience with the students of drama and acting in the state. "It's painful that an actor of his stature has not been asked for by anyone," said the V-C. "So what if destiny has cheated him; the university will help him," he added.
The HT had highlighted how the screen hero struggled for two square meals in real life and taught in a small private acting school for income to survive. Having sold his only house in Mumbai for the passion to run an acting school in Ludhiana, which failed two years ago, Kaul would be homeless but for the hostel accommodation arranged by his employer.
One of his popular co-actors, Priti Sapru, who is settled in Mumbai, also called up Kaul and HT on Wednesday, and offered him lead role in a Punjabi film that will go into production next month. "It will be my privilege to work again with Satish Kaul, with whom I grew up in the profession," she said, appealing the rest of the Punjabi filmmakers to help the man who helped Punjabi cinema survive the tough phase when actors were not paid well.
Sensing the beginning of a new life after help from Punjabi University and former co-star, Kaul hoped for a comeback to silver screen. Kaul's wife divorced him seven years ago, and he has no children.
New-generation actor Binu Dhillon also feels sorry for Kaul. "New actors should show respect for Kaul and come forward to help him," he said. "The irony is that everybody talks about it but nobody takes the step. I tried (to get everyone together for the cause) a few months ago but nothing came of the effort."
Satirist Bhagwant Mann, who is also a leader of the People's Party of Punjab (PPP), said it was unfortunate that the most successful hero ever of Punjabi cinema was condemned to a life of poverty. "Once I complete the shooting of my latest film, I will make efforts to bring all present-day Punjabi film stars together to help senior artistes," he said.
Others who have helped
Priti Sapru, former co-star, has offered Kaul lead role in a Punjabi film that will go into production next month, has appealed Punjabi filmmakers to help the man who helped Punjabi cinema survive the tough phase when actors were not paid well Binu Dhillon, new-generation actor, says new actors should show respect for Kaul and come forward to help him. He tried to mobilise them a few months ago as well Bhagwant Mann, satirist and leader of the PPP, will bring all present-day Punjabi film stars to the aid of struggling senior artistes once he complete shooting for his latest film.