The master of deadpan and understatement — Pankaj Kapur, who turns 67 today, entered the quintessential Indian middle-class household with his shows like Office Office where he braves the country's rampant corruption and bureaucracy, among others.
Pankaj Kapur is an actor par excellence and has proved his mettle over and over again through his acting career of almost four decades. The three-time National Award-winning actor might not be someone you see on-screen frequently as the gifted actor picks his projects carefully, but when he takes over the screen, he leaves the audience in awe.
While his films have gotten him prestigious awards, it was his stint in TV that made him a household name. When Kapur did television, it was not just an idiot box, but a window to real talent. On Pankaj Kapur’s birthday, here are five of his most memorable television shows from the yesteryears.
Pankaj Kapur played the lead role of an astute detective, Karamchand in his first TV series. Karamchand is fondly remembered as India’s version of Sherlock. With this show Pankaj gave the Indian television audience something they had never seen as Karamchand helps the local police solve murders in his inimitable style, always munching on carrots and often playing chess with the police inspector. Karamchand originally launched on Doordarshan, and was then rebooted for Sony Entertainment Television in 2007 where the actor reprised his role as a carrot chomping, mystery solving detective.
As television became more popular in India, show-runners started remaking famous and successful international shows in Hindi. The 1993 show Zabaan Sambhalke is one such example as it is a remake of 1977 British sitcom, Mind Your Language. Kapur as Mohan Bharti had our hearts, he was not as charming as Mr Brown, the English teacher in Mind Your Language, but an engineer who is forced to take up teaching as a job to make a living. His character told the story of India’s displaced talent. The show also starred the late Viju Khote, Shubha Khote and Tom Alter amongst others.
After the huge success of Zabaan Sambhalke, Kapur featured as a lead in Phatichar, a satirical comedy where Kapur’s character — the title character Phatichar, lives in a huge cement pipe with the sign ‘home sweet home’ hung at the mouth of the pipe. The Doordarshan show’s story was a bittersweet representation of how Indians below poverty line lived and survived in the city.
Office Office became an instant hit amongst the television viewing audience. Kapur played the lead role of Mussadilal, a common man who struggles to get his work done at various government offices amid rampant corruption and inefficiency. The show was a satirical commentary on India’s ‘babudom’ or bureaucratic set-up. Office Office first aired in 2001, and was loved by the audience for its performances.
Mohandas B.A.L.L.B. was quite a modern spin on Mahatma Gandhi’s life as it was based on a character who is a lawyer, played by Kapur. The show showed the actor in a different light, as before this he had done a series of comedies on TV. Mohandas fights the system with his wit and intelligence. The show also starred Supriya Pathak as Mohandas’ wife. Pankaj Kapur made his directorial debut with this show which he and Supriya Pathak Kapur also produced under their production banner Grace films. Mohandas B.A.L.L.B. only had one season and ended its run on the channel in the year 1998. Along with these two, the show also featured Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
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