Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah turns 10: Actors say no show tackles social issues the way we do
As Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah turns 10, five of its most loved characters meet mid-day for a nostalgic look back
As we set foot in Film City, it's easy to recognise the residential complex, with its bright yellow and blue hues. After all, almost each one of us has been witness to the laughter and learnings, the friendships and fights that have unfolded in Gokuldham Society over the past decade. The set is bathed in lights to commemorate the special occasion. As Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah celebrates its 10th anniversary, we catch up with Dilip Joshi, Mandar Chandwadkar, Shyam Pathak, Tanmay Vekaria and Ghanshyam Nayak for a chat.
Vividly remembering his first day of shoot, Joshi, who plays protagonist Jethaalal Gada, says he had little idea the show would become historic. "My first shot had my character being kidnapped by some comic goons. It has been a smooth sail since then."
Tanmay Vekaria aka Bagha
Vekaria recollects how he would do bit roles on the show, before the writers etched out the part of Bagha for him. "I've done several roles — from a cop to a taxi driver to a school teacher [before playing Bagha]," he says.
Mandar Chandwakar who plays the role of Atmaram Tukaram Bhide
Chandwadkar aka Bhide thinks it is the breezy equation shared by co-stars that helps the show deliver a laugh a minute. Stating that they sometimes incorporate their off-screen antics into the show, he says, "Amit [Bhatt] is hilarious, which is quite at odds with his character [Champakklal]. If someone were to record his antics, it would make for amazing viral content." Nayak, who plays Nattu Kaka, points out that he often ends up being the butt of their jokes. "But I don't mind," he says good-naturedly.
Shayam Pathak aka Popatlal Pandey
From the affable Dayaben to the eternal bachelor Popatlal Pandey, the distinct characters - each with their quirks - are so deeply entrenched into the public consciousness that it is difficult to imagine anyone else play them. However, Chandwadkar says he would love to step into Tanuj Mahashabde [Iyer]'s shoes. "Bhide is perfect. But from an actor's point of view, I would say Iyer's role has an interesting graph."
Ghanshyam Nayak aka Nattu Kaka
In an industry where makers have to resort to generation leaps to keep the audience engaged, the situational comedy has found a loyal fan base without resorting to antics.
Vekaria feels the social commentary on the struggles of the middle-class society resonates with viewers. "Taarak Mehta has discussed so many topics, including education, health policies, old age homes, and so on. No other show does that."
Nayak recalls how a fan, who was battling depression, had the show to thank for his change in attitude. "I know of a viewer who was contemplating suicide. But an episode made him see things in new light."
Joshi credits the team of writers for the show's long-standing success. "Our USP is that we churn out relatable content day in and day out, and still bring on the laughs. Comedy is a difficult genre. When we do our reading, if a particular joke feels forced, we don't let it go. We all brainstorm and improvise on it."
But he is quick to add that the team should now consider following the seasonal format that is popular in the West. "That way, writers will get some relief and the creative output will be better."
Over the years, the sitcom has seen many celebrities - from Shah Rukh Khan to Salman Khan, to Hrithik Roshan - make special appearances. "But the thrill of sharing screen space with [Amitabh] Bachchan sir was beyond words," says Nayak.
Admitting to being a fan of Bachchan, Joshi adds, "When I'd watch him on screen, I didn't imagine I'd share screen space with him someday. This show gave me that opportunity."
Bachchan's compliment to Vekaria during the shoot, is one he holds dear. "The scene required me to mouth Bachchan sir's dialogue, 'I can talk English, walk English'. After we canned the shot, he said, 'Bhai, tum meri jagah aa jao, main tumhari jagah aata hoon'. It was a mind-blowing moment."
One last question:
Your favourite section in Gokuldham Society?
Dilip Joshi: It has to be Jethaalal's balcony. It gives you a complete view of
One character you would like to swap your role with?
Shyam Pathak: I'd love to play Champakklal [Jethaalal's father played by Amit Bhatt].
Your favourite couple from the show?
Ghanshyam Nayak: Bhide and Madhavi [played by Mandar Chandwadkar and Sonalika Joshi]. In fact, I often tell Madhavi, 'You're so beautiful. You look good in anything you wear. Kudrat
ne tumhe bahut fursat se banaya hai.'
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