Amol Palekar on mentor Shreeram Lagoo: He gave me invaluable lessons in acting

Updated: Dec 19, 2019, 08:25 IST | Shaheen Parkar | Mumbai

Theatre veteran Amol Palekar remembers mentor Shreeram Lagoo after he died of cardiac arrest.

Amol Palekar. Pic/AFP
Amol Palekar. Pic/AFP

A day after veteran actor Shreeram Lagoo, a stalwart in Marathi theatre and Indian cinema, succumbed to a cardiac arrest in Pune, his Gharonda (1977) co-star Amol Palekar remembers him as a hero "who was far bigger than any great actor."

Having belonged to the same city of Pune, and with their work as theatre and cinema actors often bringing them together, Lagoo and Palekar shared a bond. "We would frequently meet. I remember, when I filed a plea in the Bombay High Court challenging censorship in theatre, he was among the first to sign the affidavit. Ironically, Girish Karnad and Alyque Padamsee, who are also signatories, have also passed away. But, our fight will continue."

It was in 1968 that Palekar first interacted with Lagoo as part of their individual theatrical projects. "I was in my 20s then, and as a young stage enthusiast, I felt privileged to watch him from close quarters. He gave me an invaluable lesson in under-acting and showed me how to avoid [exaggerated] gestures that looked unwanted. By the time we acted in Gharonda, we had [forged a] strong bond. Working with him was a pleasure. He was a huge star in commercial Marathi theatre. His performance in V Shantaram's Marathi film Pinjara [1972] earned him much acclaim."

ShriramShreeram Lagoo. Pic/AFP

Palekar coaxed Lagoo to be part of Gharonda by pitching the film as an offbeat venture. "We believed in experimentation; [that understanding] kept us together." The film, co-starring Zarina Wahab, dealt with housing woes in the city, and the extent that people go to, to buy their dream abode. "Gharonda was shot in actual locations across Mumbai. Given how our characters were written, we did not share a lot of screen space. But the camaraderie forged during our days in theatre would come alive in the few scenes we had together. We had lovely gupshups. He was highly intellectual and never scared to take a stand on social issues."

Lagoo's last rites will be held tomorrow after son Anand, who is in the US, returns to the country.

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