By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) Years after his epic embodiment of Lord Krishna in B.R. Chopra’s “Mahabharata” in the late 1980s, veteran actor Nitish Bharadwaj has found his peace in working on his journey as a film director, indulging in organic farming, supporting causes and no politics.
May 2019, he says, marks a “completely new phase” in his life, where unless something sparks the fire in his belly, he is happy chasing the goals he has set for himself.
An offer to play ‘guru’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a web series wasn’t a pull enough for the actor, who is confident — as a citizen over a former Member of Parliament — that Modi will return to power.
“It’s nice to play Narendra Modi’s guru, but it was a very small role. If people can’t think beyond that, it doesn’t fire me,” Nitish told IANS here, adding that the “infinite” nature of television soaps also does not excite him.
On the big screen, he was seen in “Kedarnath” last year and before that, he featured in the 2016 film “Mohenjo Daro”.
Theatre is one passion which he continues to pursue through the stage production “Chakravyuh”. What else keeps him busy now?
“I have started directing films. Four years ago, I directed Marathi film ‘Pitruroon’ with Tanujaji. It was encouraging that the film won several awards. Cinema fires me. It is finite. You put in your best and you try to reach near perfection. Whereas in a soap, after one month, the makers themselves question its repeat value.
“Television is becoming drab and artistes like me are not enthused to be a part of that space, whereas that space has made me what I am. I am unable to go back to the space,” said the Mumbai-based veteran.
His small screen career is dotted with mythological tales, and he has worked in the cinema medium too. But then he shifted to London for a bit.
“I went away from the industry. Then when I came back, I went back to television rather than going into cinema. I produced and directed a mega show called ‘Gita Rahasya’ on the Bhagavad Gita, with Irrfan Khan playing Kans.
“My own decisions probably pushed me back into mythology and took me away from commercial cinema which I was already doing. I can only blame it on myself. It’s not industry’s fault at all,” he said, explaining of being image trapped in the industry.
Now, he talks of his future with a focus as sharp as that of Arjuna of “Mahabharata”.
“My life has been diverse, and fortunately I have a landmark in politics, a landmark in TV and in cinema as a director. I want to create further landmarks. I don’t want to come to the same position where I am today after five years.
“I should have another two landmarks in five years, otherwise I will feel it’s a waste of time,” added the actor, who quipped about his age saying he was “5,000 years old” and that “in the industry, your age is what you look”.
On the directorial front, Nitish has completed the screenplay of his next project, a Hindi period film, which he was unwilling to talk more about.
But another exciting aspect of life he is working on is developing a small organic farm in Khadakwasla, on the outskirts of Pune.
“It is fully organic, and not even a spoon of inorganic chemical fertilizers would go into that area. I want to eat and breathe healthy. It’s a beautiful location overlooking the backwaters of a dam. I want to meditate over there, want to spend some time there writing my scripts. It’s like actually going to my childhood.
“Haath mitti mein daalna chahta hun (I want to put my hands in the soil). I want to create my own heaven there. I want to see those plants growing,” he said as he spoke passionately about growing fruits and flowers and eventually making it into a “commercially viable farm”.
“I am a nature person,” he asserted, recounting how when he was in Madhya Pradesh as a politician, he used to rush to the forests off and on.
Politics is not on his radar again for now.
“Not at the moment,” he said when asked if he was ready to return.
“It is my Guru Aadesh that I should pursue my film career,” added Nitish, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Jamshedpur in 1996, and then lost in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections from Rajgarh in Madhya Pradesh.
“Though there was a little ripple in the waters that this time I was asked to contest from a particular constituency in Madhya Pradesh, but not really. It didn’t fire me. I had that fire in my belly once. But now I have a different goal ahead of me. I want to make wonderful cinema. ‘Pitruroon’ has given me a lot of confidence… Let me do that for a while.”
Having said that, as a citizen, he is confident Modi will come back in power with majority.
“Besides his ability to connect with people, his strengths are many. A) He has the guts to think out of box. B) He has the guts to implement those ideas and policies. When you think out of the box, out of 10 ideas, two may misfire, fair enough. But eight are good.
“Israel, Japan and (modern) India were founded around the same time. Where is Israel? Where is Japan? Where are we? We need to be in fast track, and this man has the guts to take our nation fast track… We can’t afford slow track anymore. So I want him to come back.”
Talking of the ongoing election season, Nitish said: “I think his (Modi’s) biggest marketing tool is Mr. Rahul Gandhi. I think Mr Modi should stop campaigning… Why is he campaigning? Let Mr. Rahul Gandhi campaign all the way… Modi will come.”
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])