It is 15 years today since iconic Hindi film Lagaan released. Yet, wherever Aditya Lakhia goes, there are whispers of ‘Look… Kachra’. Film Lagaan’s character Kachra, that Aditya played in the rustic tale of oppressed villagers taking on uptight British officers, became synonymous with the actor, no matter the number of films and television serials he worked in thereafter.
I have seen it happen every time I have met the actor in Ahmedabad. Remind him he was Kachra for the nation, 15 years ago this day, and he unabashedly says, “I still am!” following it up with an easy laugh. Aditya cherishes the film, the character of the untouchable and disabled guy he so effortlessly played. And that, I realise, is the magic of a good body of work. It stays with you forever. How it all started for him is interesting to know. “I took Literature in class XI-XII in Mayo College and did a lot of plays. I would sing on stage and I loved it. The ability to be another person, to be applauded, all this drew me in. While still in class XII, I did Kamal Swaroop’s Om Dar Badar,” says the 48-year-old actor who grew up in an environment that celebrated art, films, etc. “My mother is an art director who’s done films like Bhavni Bhavai, Mirch Masala… having those like Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Ketan Mehta come and stay home and being in an atmosphere that celebrates films, I was simply drawn in,” says Aditya, who has worked in films Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Shaurya, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Stanley Ka Dabba, Ramji Londonwale, Red Alert, to name a few.
Recalling shooting for Rihaee with Vinod Khanna while at St Xavier’s College here, Aditya then went on to doing a few episodes for telly series Mr Yogi. “While in college, I’d go to Mumbai and keep coming back but I always knew I would shift to Mumbai eventually. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar was a break I got in 1990 and that got me hooked on to Hindi films. Then, during the making of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, I got friendly with Ashutosh Gowarikar; I already knew Deepak Tijori from Jo Jeeta…days and the two were planning film Pehla Nasha. I guess it is important to form your own circle in Mumbai, especially people from the same line. It gives you an edge,” says Aditya, who also did television show Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo in 2009 for which he received an IITA award for Best Supporting Actor.
After about 20 odd years in Mumbai, he returned to Ahmedabad a couple of years ago. And, it was tough. “It can be quite a shocker; for me it was quite frustrating. My elder brother, writer-painter-filmmaker Ashish Lakhia passed away four years ago and I began coming to Ahmedabad more often. Subsequently, my dad suffered a heart attack, required dialysis too, and I decided to be here longer. It was depressing until acting came back to me,” he says of his journey.
Aditya’s love for acting isn’t obviously restricted to Hindi films. “Films are films…and now with Gujarati films having contemporary subjects, there’s a world that has opened up for Gujarati cinema. From being in the avoidable category, government is now giving incentives to Gujarati films. There’s a well of opportunities,” says the actor who recently shot for Aditi Thakore’s Bhanwar. “She was doing a Gujarati film and found me apt for one of the major characters in it. There are offers now and I am also working on producing and acting in a Gujarati film; the shoot will begin this year-end. I am also doing a few Hindi films. One also heard of him being actor and executive producer for a Gujarati film, the Mills and Boon young girl-elder guy kind… “Oh yes, that’s shelved! I got the actors, producer and director together but compromise on ethics made me leave the project. There is something equally or more interesting coming up though!” says Aditya, who has also readied the script for a Hindi film which he will begin directing next year.
Any interests, besides films? “After being part of about 50 films, all I know is my heart lies here. It is the only thing I know. But if not this, I’d have been a chef. Also, I am a lover of rock and pop music from the 1960s and ’70s,” says the owner of over 2000 CDs, several comics and numerous records. But, for the record, it’s acting now and forever.
Photographs : Marmik Shah
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