An actor par excellence, Pankaj Kapur has proven his mettle time and again through his acting career spanning nearly four decades. The three-time National Award-winning actor may not be someone you often see on screen as the gifted actor chooses his projects carefully, but when he takes over the screen, he leaves the audience in awe.
While his films have earned him prestigious awards, it was his stint in TV that made him a household name. When Kapur made television, it was not just an idiot box, but a window into real talent. On Pankaj Kapur’s birthday, here are five of his most memorable TV shows of yesteryear.
Pankaj Kapur played the lead role of an astute detective, Karamchand in his first TV series. Karamchand is fondly remembered as the Indian version of Sherlock. With this show, Pankaj gave Indian television audiences something they had never seen before as Karamchand helps the local police solve murders in his inimitable style, always nibbling on carrots and often playing chess with the police inspector. Karamchand originally launched on Doordarshan and then rebooted for Sony Entertainment Television in 2007, where the actor reprise his role as a carrot-chewing, mystery-solving detective.
As television became more popular in India, showrunners started to recreate famous and successful international shows in Hindi. The 1993 show Zabaan Sambhalke is one such example, as it is a remake of the 1977 British sitcom, Mind Your Language. Kapur as Mohan Bharti had our hearts, was not as charming as Mr Brown, the English teacher in Mind Your Language, but an engineer forced to teach as a job to earn 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, among others.
After the huge success of Zabaan Sambhalke, Kapur starred in Phatichar, a satirical comedy in which Kapur’s character – the title character Phatichar, lives in a huge concrete pipe with the ‘home sweet home’ sign at the mouth of the pipe. The story of the Doordarshan show was a bittersweet portrayal of how Indians lived and survived below the poverty line in the city.
Office Office became an instant hit among television viewers. Kapur played the lead role of Mussadilal, an ordinary man struggling to get his job 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 public for its performances.
Mohandas BALLB was quite a modern twist on Mahatma Gandhi’s life as it was based on a character who is a lawyer played by Kapur. The show brought the actor in a different light, having previously done a series of comedies on TV. Mohandas fights the system with his wit and intelligence. The show also starred Supriya Pathak as Mohandas’s 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 BALLB had only one season and ended on the channel in 1998. Along with these two, the show also featured Nawazuddin Siddiqui.