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The rare gravitas of Vikram Gokhale- Cinema express

The rare gravitas of Vikram Gokhale

The thespian was sometimes stern, other times astute and always impactful on screen

Published: 26th November 2022
Vikram Gokhale

Vikram Gokhale, doyen of Marathi film and theatre –  as well as an indelible figure of decades of popular Hindi cinema – passed away in Pune following prolonged illness. He was 77. 

Born to a line of actors (his great grandmother, Durgabai Kamat, was the first female actor of the Indian screen, while his grandmother, Kamlabai Gokhale, was our first female child actor and his father Chandrakant Gokhale was a veteran Marathi film and stage actor), Vikram Gokhale was known for his gravitas and mastery of craft. 

Bearing a stern, thoughtful face that could just as easily break into a smile, and keen, expressive eyes, he played patriarchs and policemen, fathers and authority figures. He made his film debut in the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Parwana in 1971. The association would spark a lifelong friendship, with the actors reuniting on Khuda Gawah (1992) Agneepath (1990and most recently in Ab Aani CD (2020).

Bachchan also helped the late actor at one of his lowest phases in life. In an interview, Vikram Gokhale had shared he got him a house when he had no roof over his head in Mumbai. 

"I went through a lot of struggle when I entered this industry. I was going through a huge financial crunch and was looking for shelter in Mumbai. When Amitabh Bachchan came to know about this, he personally wrote a letter to Manohar Joshi, who was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra during 1995-99. And I got a house from the government only because of his recommendation. I still have that letter with me, which I have framed,” he had said.

Vikram Gokhale won the National Award for the Marathi film Anumati (2013). He had an illustrious TV career, in the Doordarshan shows Udaan (1989), Kshitij Ye Nahi (1992) and Natkhat Narad (1985). He also shared screen space with Smriti Irani in the Sony soap Virrudh (2007).

Yet, to a younger generation, he's perhaps best remembered as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's dour and domineering father from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). The way he says 'Nandini' - in a grim, disapproving baritone - continues to upset and unsettle thousands of invested fans, lost as they were in the Salman-Aishwarya romance onscreen (it doesn't work out). 

Others still may recall the mystic Acharya Yagyaprakash Bharti from the horror-comedy Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007); the authoritative Maharaja from Hey Ram (2000) and the truth-telling friend from Natsamrat (2015).

Vikram Gokhale, who worked across genres and styles, on stage and in films, was always memorable in a sure, sober, self-assured way. Working in a vast range of supporting roles, he knew schmaltz and melodrama, hysteria and farce -  yet never played wholly into those tones. He could fade into the background of a scene, quietly bidding his time till his attention - or anger - was engaged.

After his demise, condolences poured in from film industry stalwarts. Akshay Kumar remembered how he learnt “so much from the actor.” “Very sad to know of the demise of Vikram Gokhale ji. Worked with him in films like Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Mission Mangal, had so much to learn from him. Om Shanti,” he tweeted. 

Remembering the time he shared space with Vikram Gokhale in Aiyyari (2018), Manoj Vajpayee wrote, “Indian cinema lost a gem of an actor. Had the privilege of working with him in Aiyyari and shared few great moments with him on the set ! Saddened to hear about Shri Vikram Gokhale ji’s demise. My thoughts & prayers are with the family.” 

Actors Anupam Kher, Ravi Kishan, chef Ranveer Brar and MP Prakash Javadekar also posted condolence messages for the late actor.

Director Sanjay Gupta tweeted, “Rest in peace sir. You truly were one of a kind.”

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