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Home > Sunday Mid Day News > Wed tell Satish tu baddi ktti cheez hai

We’d tell Satish, tu baddi k*tti cheez hai!

Updated on: 12 March,2023 09:22 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Aastha Atray Banan |

It was at Delhi’s Kirori Mal College’s Players Theatre Society that Satish Kaushik decided he would not pursue science. Friends from back in the day remember the veteran who rarely forgot to acknowledge where he came from

We’d tell Satish, tu baddi k*tti cheez hai!

Satish Kaushik (second from left) receives an award for dramatics at Kirori Mal College (KMC), New Delhi

He came to the college to study science, but by the time he had left, it was to make a career in theatre. We see this a lot today, but Satish was one of the first to have done it successfully.”

Keval Arora, theatre critic and former staff advisor at Delhi’s Kirori Mal College (KMC) Players Theatre Society is speaking to us on the day when the news of veteran Satish Kaushik’s sudden passing at 67, has hit headlines. Arora, who took over in 1980 from Players founder Frank Thakurdas, retired from the position in 2022. It was here that Kaushik began his creative innings in 1972. Arora acknowledges Kaushik’s achievement as unique because he didn’t have too much going for him except talent and determination. “No ‘looks’ for sure, and no family pedigree to open doors for him,” says Arora. Straddling both, an unforgiving film industry and Hindi theatre, Kaushik became a master at having the best of both worlds. He was equally famous for playing small, but hit roles in blockbuster films like Ram Lakhan and Mr India as carrying stage productions like Salesman Ramlal, an adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman, on his shoulders.

In a file photo from 2017, Kaushik (centre) is seen at the KMC Alumni Meet to raise funds for the renovation of the Frank Thakurdas Memorial Auditorium. Pic/Getty ImagesIn a file photo from 2017, Kaushik (centre) is seen at the KMC Alumni Meet to raise funds for the renovation of the Frank Thakurdas Memorial Auditorium. Pic/Getty Images

The college theatre society that was once the experimentation ground for legend Amitabh Bachchan, was one that Kaushik admitted he was indebted to too. “There’s a certain honesty and humility to a famous person who constantly acknowledges his or her roots. It would serve us all well to emulate this, and credit the people and institutions that shaped us. Satish’s generosity and equal interaction with young graduates from Players when he’d visit the campus reflected this mindset,” says Arora.

Director Manmohan Bhasin was Kaushik’s classmate in New Delhi’s Harcourt Butler School, and the two friends continued to be together as they made their way to KMC. “In 1972, when we joined KMC together, an inter-class competition was underway at Players. I decided to participate and wrote a play called Shatranj and shared it with Satish, who readily agreed to join in. This was the first play of our lives; we knew no place to rehearse so we all went to Buddha Jayanti Park. On the day of the competition, the hall was packed and the students were booing down most acts. Many groups were demoralised and the curtains were called halfway. I told Satish, we will continue through till the last scene despite the deafening hooting and flying tomatoes and paper planes. After the show, we hugged as if we had won the competition. It was our first lesson on stage, that the show must go on.”

Friends Manmohan Bhasin (standing) and Satish Kaushik on stageFriends Manmohan Bhasin (standing) and Satish Kaushik on stage

Bhasin went on to direct a young Kaushik in several plays after and watched as the actor developed a unique style with perfect comic timing. “He called me a hard taskmaster. You know they say, har dost kamina hota hai. We were all trying to take our time on stage and make our presence felt while staying true to character. His sense of humour was the best and when he’d crack a joke, we used to tell him, ‘tu badi k*tti cheez hai’.”

For those who came after him and are now part of the Hindi film industry, Kaushik offered them hope. Himanshu Sharma, who wrote Tanu Weds Manu (2011) and Raanjhanna (2013), says that the theatre society was always full of stories of “seniors like Bachchan saab, Kulbhushan ji [Kharbanda] and Satish ji”. Sharma gives credit to the society for lending young students a perspective on life and team playing, while manifesting your individual vision.” Actor Zeeshan Ayyub, who we know from films like Article 15, says that he had no idea about The Players till he joined KMC in 2000. “I realised then that greats had been a part of this society. For me, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was a standout movie, and that he [Kaushik] wrote the dialogues for it, made it even more amazing. With Players, we all learnt that when we went up on stage, we had to look beautiful. And by that I mean, the audience had to mesmerised by your [stunning] character.” Ex-Player and actor, Sushant Singh of Satya fame, sums it well when he says, “For the lack of an equal gender word, I wil say that it was a brotherhood, and we all are better for it.”

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