Vighnesh Joshi Interview
Vighnesh Joshi started his career on stage as a harmonium player. "During those times, "he says, "Sangeet Natak were in fashion and I got my first break. I worked in RADHESHYAM MAHARAJ, SWAYAMWAR etc. as a harmonium player. It so happened that Prabhakar Panshikar's harmonium player was not able to make it and I was asked if I can manage the show, which of-course I agreed to. Panshikar possibly liked my performance which was hardly for 15 minutes and from there my career picked up. I was then asked if I would like to enact a role in a play. I didn't have any experience apart from performing at Ganeshotsav Pandals and had never done that. Still Prabhakarji insisted. He told me that there was a show coming up in 15 days, which I could try for. Which I did and read the script as directed. They liked my reading and selected me for the role. I could read and remember the whole play script in a span of about 45 days. Going forward, apart from playing female roles, I almost played every available character in a play. I also used to sing well and I started singing as well."

 By Neha Paranjpe

"Similarly, there was a character named Shyam Sarangapani, which was exactly my age. I thought, I am getting to learn so many things from Panshikars, I decided to give it a shot. I took my own clothes and performed. It was a very small role but a central one. This also gave me good exposure.

"In another instance, I was called to play the role of Appa as the actor who hailed from Pune was not well and could not make it. I was able to perform well and was liked by the audience. This play was ASHRUNCHI ZALI PHULE, which was very famous. Panshikar was planning to make the next Sangeet Natak KATYAR KALJAT GHUSLI, because after 1967 there were no shows and he wanted to revive it in 1998. The main harmonium player, because of some heart ailment, could not make it to Mumbai. Panshikar said, no problem, I will make sure that Vighnesh is ready by that time. In the autobiography of Panshikar, he has mentioned that the mouth organ played during the first show of KATYAR KALJAT GHUSLI, used by Vasantrao Deshpande, was given to me as a gift. Earlier, I did not have any experience of this genre, but it was an experience in itself. Playing qawwali and other songs of different types was made possible by help from others.

"During this play, I got to know Mohan Wagh Sir. He was planning to start the PLAY ALL THE BEST and he wanted to create another team. He gave me the role of the blind person. But then, VARYAVARCHI VARAAT was being scheduled and Mohan Sir asked me to concentrate on this play instead of ALL THE BEST. Since I had the habit of memorizing the complete play, I kept on getting more and more roles one after the other. BATATYACHI CHAWL, VARYAVARCHI VARAAT were the most famous ones."

He admits that he got many roles because another actor could not make it. "Many times, it so happens that we may not be the best in what we are doing but we can still perform and win the audiences. That's how Ravi Shastri also is recognized as he was a useful player to the team. Similarly, my case was. I was fresh, I was very sincere and that's why Panshikar always liked me and I started getting many roles."

Vighnesh names Chandrakant Kulkarni as one of his all-time favourite directors. "I performed for him in plays like VARYAVARCHI VARAAT and BATATYACHI CHAWL. In one of the plays SHANTATA COURT CHALU AAHE, I played a very small role. I remember, on the first day, he said, your role is very small but it has been written by Vijay Tendulkar. So, this one is a core role and it is really suitable for your type of nature. Chandu Sir explained to me the role with all its expressions and glory. I still cherish that experience, and all credit goes to Vijay Tendulkar's writing style and the direction of Chandu Sir. Similar is the case of HIMALAYACHI SAWALI. I only performed the way I was taught by Pradhyapak Vasant Kanetkar and director Rajesh Deshpande. That's why it is always said, the writer and director make almost 90% of the roles performed by any actor. It is the duty of the actor to only put in the rest of 10% to make it complete. The most cherished comments were provided by the brother of Ashok Saraf. He mentioned that Ashok performed this well, but your style is different and it makes the role more memorable. This compliment was really special to me. Mohandas Sukhtankar, Jayant Sawarkar and some other renowned artistes also provided me with great compliments. Nirmitee Sawant actually hugged me and said, you have shown to the world that a vagabond person can also be made lovable. One of my personal favorites was BECHKI, but it did not do well commercially. I had acted the role of Satish Lokhande and was really well written. Chinmay Mandlekar was the writer, producer and director. The role of the villain was really liked by audiences."

Vighnesh is very fond of reading, particularly classics. "I may not be able to sum how much and how many writers and books I have read. I have most of the plays by heart and hence, I had to read a lot of books again and again. At my home, me, my wife and my son, all love to read books. My wife sings with the tambura, I play a bit of harmonium and we can make a musical event out of nowhere. Our programmes are called Tapalseva."

He also runs a business and has to toss between what he loves more. "I love to run the mango business, maybe more than acting. Though my passion will always remain acting. Plays will be always deep within my heart, but once you grow old, there are times when you have to think how to make ends meet and that's where the business comes into picture. To quote from Pu La's ANTU BARWA, Jawai Bapu, natak karta te thik pan pota panyasaathi kaay karta? (Doing theatre is all very well, but what do you do for a living?) "

*Neha Paranjpe is an anchor, radio jockey and actor

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