Kroor Singh Cost Me Many Wedding Proposals: Akhilendra Mishra

Kroor Singh Cost Me Many Wedding Proposals: Akhilendra Mishra

Actor says golden period of TV will never return; films, TV, web series of today lack content

SmitaUpdated: Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 01:17 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): ‘Yakku’ - most of us remember this catchphrase from the famous ‘Chandrakanta,’ TV Series which was telecast during primetime by Doordarshan in the mid-1990s. The character “Kroor Singh’ played by actor Akhilendra Mishra, won the hearts of millions and he later got many significant roles in many Bollywood flicks, one of them (Lagaan) was nominated for the Oscars.

His acting was much applauded and the actor won name and fame. The actor, who has won many awards, was in the city of lakes for a shoot. In an exclusive chat with the Free Press, he talked about his famous role as Kroor Singh, his journey as an actor and his views on the present scenario in the world of acting.

Excerpts:

How did you land Kroor Singh’s role in the TV series Chandrakanta?

At the time, I was in Mumbai and was into theatre and was associated with IPTA and Ekjut theatre groups. Nirja Guleri flew to Mumbai for casting for Chandrakanta. She met me and her first question was whether I had read ‘Chandrakanta Santati’. I said I haven’t but I have heard about it from my father. She offered me the role of the villain in the series. I agreed. She told me that the serial was being produced for DD and also that Kroor Singh, the villain, would die in the 12th episode. That was how I was signed for the role. And it changed my life. In fact, I lost many marriage proposals because I came to be seen as a villain even in real life.

How did the word ‘Yakku’ come to be associated with Kroor Singh’s character?

While reading the script, it somehow struck me that the sound ‘Yak’ should be the catchphrase of this character. I pitched the idea with Nirja ji, conceptualising how ‘Yak’ would sound in the nine Rasas. She said okay. The catchphrase was a hit, especially among the children, and they started addressing me as ‘Yakku Uncle’ - so much so that if I was missing from an episode, lakhs of children wrote letters to DD. My absence saddened them to such an extent that they used to cry.

Chandrakanta and some other TV serials were so popular that people used to wait for them and when they were telcast, the people used to remain glued to their TV screens. Why are such serials not being produced today?

That was the golden period of TV. It will never return. The TV serials of today don’t have that kind of content.

Moreover, the serials are telecast every day, not once a week, as was earlier. Nowadays, people don’t read literature and so serials based on literary works are no longer made. The serials of today are mainly based on family intrigues, Saas-Bahu conspiracies and so on. There is no content even in the films.

Which of the three - theatre, TV and films - are your favourite?

I am an actor and I do my best whether it is a play or a TV serial or a film. Yes, films have a bigger canvas and a greater reach. But there is no match to theatre. I still do theatre. My first and last love is theatre. Presently, I am working on a play ‘Swami Vivekananda Ka Punarpath’ based on the life and works of Swami Vivekananda. I have scripted, directed and acted in the play.

Hopefully, you will be able to watch it at Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal, soon.

Tell us something about your journey as an actor.

I come from an educated Brahmin family. My father was a Superintendent, Customs and Central Excise. My mother wanted me to become an engineer. I could not clear the engineering entrance exam and did graduation in physics. I lived with my father but my vacations were spent in our ancestral village in Siwan district of Bihar. A Bhojpuri play on child marriage ‘Gauna Ke Raat’ was being staged in the village. I played the lead role and it was much appreciated. That was how I discovered my acting talent. But it took me a year to persuade my parents to allow me to join the field. Once they said yes, I shifted to Mumbai.

How was the struggle in Mumbai?

It was tough. I used to walk from Santacruz Railway Station to Juhu just to save bus fare and used the money to buy bananas to fill my stomach. I was short on money but that was not the biggest problem for me. My eyes were set on my objective. I worked in many serials including Discovery of India, Udaan. But as I told you, Chandrakanta was the turning point of my life.

You haven’t been seen in any web series?

I do get offers. I ask the producers two questions: Is there vulgarity in it? Are abusive words used in it? The answer is yes and I ask the caller to hang up. Now, however, some good web series are being made. After all, for how long can you draw people with vulgarity?

Your message to wannabe actors.

First deserve, then desire. Understand yourself. Develop good command of language, study literature and recite poems. Acting does not come easy. Begin with theatre for that is the first step in the right direction. Acting is a spiritual practice and an actor is a spiritual person.

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