FPJ Opinion: Vikram Gokhale was a candid actor with strong opinions

He never minced words or compromised his principles, and he faced the consequences gracefully. A man who started with a bang, went into hibernation for a decade before rising again like the proverbial phoenix.

Shruti PanditUpdated: Sunday, November 27, 2022, 11:45 AM IST
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FPJ Opinion: Vikram Gokhale was a candid actor with strong opinions | File Photo

Vikram Gokhale, best remembered for his roles in Marathi plays like Barrister, Mahasagar and Doosra Saamna and Hindi films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Agneepath, Mission Mangal, to name just a few, died due to multi-organ failure on Nov 26 at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune, where he was admitted on Nov 5.

After false alarms three days ago, the actor’s doctors and wife had issued a statement that he is very much alive, though critical. However, he succumbed after putting up a strong fight for 20 days. The film fraternity, politicians and his numerous fans took to social media to express their grief and extend condolences to the family.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Vikram Gokhale ji was a creative and versatile actor. He will be remembered for many interesting roles in his long acting career. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and friends.”

Quite a few fans attached his poignant portrayal in the film Natasamrat as a tribute. Ironically, the last statement of the character played by him – where he tells his co-star Nana Patekar that despite being more handsome and talented, it was Nana who was more successful – was the truth of his life.

Vikram Gokhale started with a bang in the 1970s with plays like Jaswandi, Swami, and the superhits Mahasagar and Barrister. His first film in Marathi, Mahananda, was a superhit as well. Barrister was a play from the late 1970s that he is still remembered for, and which he re-enacted for a show after 33 years a decade ago. He often mentioned that acting under the guidance of Vijaya Mehta as the Barrister was like going to an acting school, where he learnt lessons of lifetime.

However, somewhere, he was not satisfied with the work he was doing and decided to take a sabbatical. He resorted to a farmer’s life in a remote village for almost a decade.

This hard work, according to him, helped him introspect. He realised that there were a few flaws that prevented him from doing justice to his characters. He relentlessly worked on them and came back with a new vigour. He was welcomed with open arms by the Marathi theatre. He did Doosra Saamna, a play supposed to be the sequel of the 1970s film Saamna as a comeback. But it was his film Maaherchi Saadi that proved to be a superhit and got him attention of the film industry.

Later, he was candid enough to admit on a public platform that his voice was no longer strong enough for theatre, and therefore he decided not to perform on stage. He, however, continued to do cameos and lead roles in films.

Actress Pallavi Joshi, who is currently in the US, expressed deep shock. “After so many mixed reports, to hear this is shocking,” she said. “As an actor, I have played his daughter, wife and mother… as a person, we had an invincible bond. I had invited him for The Kashmir Files premiere in Pune, which he couldn’t attend because he was unwell. But he went and saw the film in the theater once he was well and immediately called me… his appreciation meant a lot to me…”

Vijay Kenkre, a Marathi theatre director, said that his candidness helped Gokhale portray characters on screen and stage with absolute honesty. “His pause technique was unique. He was an actor who evolved with time and medium. However, he never got his due for his comic timing,” said Kenkre who had directed Gokhale in four plays. “I was lucky to have seen him as an actor from his first play to his last performance last week.”

Godavari, Marathi film released last week, was the last time Vikram Gokhale was seen on screen.

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