On A rainy Monday evening, actor Satish Kaushik has chosen to enjoy the comfort of the beautiful weather, locked inside an Andheri studio. Here, in between sipping hot tea, he engages actress Meghna Malik in light-hearted banter. Sometimes teasing, sometimes flirting, Kaushik’s effortless style draws many a smile from the popular television actress. The atmosphere is both surreal and romantic, and, had it not been for the crew pacing the dimly lit studio, one would have believed this playful repartee was for real.

Actor Satish Kaushik, who has been cast opposite Meghna Malik in Mr & Mrs Muralilal, returns to theatre after a four-year break. Pic/Satej Shinde
Actor Satish Kaushik, who has been cast opposite Meghna Malik in Mr & Mrs Muralilal, returns to theatre after a four-year break. Pic/Satej Shinde

When we caught Kaushik a while later, the rigours of the four-hour-long rehearsal for his new Hindi play, Mr & Mrs Murarilal, had done nothing to dampen his jovial self. “My life is a celebration,” Kaushik tell us, as he sits down for the interview. “And that’s why I chose to play this character. Mr Muralilal is a lot like me. He sings, dances, enjoys life and feeds on happiness, despite his own share of grief and sadness.”

Satish Kaushik
Satish Kaushik

The veteran actor is making a comeback on stage after a four-year hiatus. His last role as Salesman Ramlal in the Hindi-language adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman saw Kaushik take the American playwright’s protagonist Willy Loman to dizzying heights. “I played Ramlal for 14 years,” he says. “And then I thought, I needed a break.”

“Ramlal was not only a difficult character to bring alive on stage, it was also emotionally draining. I still remember having nervous breakdowns during the initial shows. I think that happened because I saw my own father in Ramlal. I come from a poor family and my father struggled as a salesman, travelling between small cities, to make ends meet,” recalls Kaushik.

When Saif Hyder Hasan brought Mr & Mrs Murarilal to Kaushik recently, the National School of Drama alumni knew this was the script he had been waiting for. “I have always done plays adapted from works by great playwrights like (Henrik) Ibsen, (Bertolt) Brecht, (William) Shakespeare and Miller. This is the first time that I am doing an original play. And, I’ll be honest, I was nervous before going ahead,” says Kaushik, though he is quick to clarify that it was because he was moving away from doing character roles on stage.

“As an actor, you have to be worried about every performance,” says the veteran. “Acting is a process of learning and unlearning, and until you don’t swim in that nervous energy, you won’t be able to get the best out of yourself.”

Mr & Mrs Murarilal is a love story about two people — Kaushik and Malik, who meet in a park one night, and are interrupted by a watchman (Amit Pathak), who is zealously guarding the premises. As the night unfolds, secrets are revealed, and the characters slowly begin to let their guard down.

“I think that’s what drew me to Hasan’s plot. It’s realistic, breezy, entertaining and has depth,” says Kaushik, adding that it also helped him tap into his serious acting side, steering away from the Bollywood films, where he has been usually typecast as the funny man, be it Calendar (Mr India), BBC (Jamai Raja), or his recent role as Tommy Singh’s tayaji (paternal uncle) in Udta Punjab. “Frankly speaking, I have always been a very serious actor. I just ended up getting funny roles. While I am not complaining, I feel it’s time that I take up roles that have vigour and intensity. I’d like to be taken more seriously.”

When: July 16 & 17,7.30 PM
Where: Rangsharda Auditorium, Near Lilavati Hospital, KC Marg, Bandra (West)
Entry: Rs 500 – Rs 2,500
Call: 26401919